William Lane Craig uses pseudoscience to deal with the problem of animal suffering

Somehow, I missed this when I watched Craig’s debate with Stephen Law–I guess I tuned it out, because I think the standard problem of evils suffered by humans is devastating and the theistic responses suck, so I don’t find the problem of animal suffering very interesting–but in the debate, Craig claimed that:

Animals like horses, dogs, and cats would experience this second level pain awareness. But they do not experience a third level pain awareness, which is the awareness of second order pain, that is, the awareness that one is oneself in pain. For that sort of pain awareness requires self-awareness, and this is centered in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, a section of the brain that is missing in all animals except for the higher primates and human beings. And therefore, even though animals are in pain, they aren’t aware of it. They don’t have this third order pain awareness. They are not aware of pain, and therefore they do not suffer as human beings do.

Scientists do debate exactly what “awareness” is and how we can tell if animals have it, but the claim I’ve bolded is nonsense.

I was alerted to this because Law posted a video explaining why:

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  • DR

    Even if one accepted that the prefrontal cortex is necessary to the so-called “third-level” awareness of pain, Craig himself admits that higher primates do have such a system in their brain, and that they would then be capable of the same pain awareness as humans. Which, considering that Craig refuses to admit to any actual relation between humans and higher primates (since he’s a cut-and-dry creationist), does nothing to help him in his argument. It’s pure legerdemaine.

  • Gordon

    Craig’s arguments are painful, but is he aware of it?

    Except, while that works to make a parallel, I think he is well aware that his arguments are awful. He’s said his reason for believing is the testimony of the holy spirit, not any of the arguments he uses.

    • Amakudari

      Third-level logical coherence is centered in the neocortex, a section of the brain that is underdeveloped or altogether missing in apologists.

  • Steven Carr

    I wonder if people in Hell have a pre-frontal cortex and so can experience pain.

    Is Craig presupposing that minds depend upon physical bodies to exist?

    Craig the naturalist!

    • eric

      If they don’t, God would have to insert the spiritual equivalent just so they can experience suffering. Eeeevil.

  • MNb

    “I don’t find the problem of animal suffering very interesting”

    You might change your mind after watching the Lion Family happily nibbling the belly and the innards of an antelope who is still living and dying a long, prolonged death in agony. I don’t care about first, second or a zillionth level of awareness. That kind of suffering is completely needless.

  • http://chessconfessions.blogspot.com Blue Devil Knight

    So this means that WJC is a materialist about consciousness. Sweet.