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Nature Red in Tooth and Claw: Theism and the Problem of Animal Suffering Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0199596324 ISBN-10: 0199596328

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Nature Red in Tooth and Claw: Theism and the Problem of Animal Suffering + The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution, and the Problem of Evil
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (April 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199596328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199596324
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"carefully argued, historically grounded, and insightful work." --American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

About the Author

Michael Murray is the Arthur and Katherine Shadek Professor in the Humanities and Philosophy at Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, P.A.). He received his B.A. at Franklin and Marshall College, and his MA and Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame. He has held fellowships from the Institute for Research in the Humanities (Madison, Wisconsin), the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Reader on January 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Originally published in 2008 by Oxford University Press, Michael Murray's "Nature Red in Tooth & Claw" examines the relationship between animal pain and theism. The following comments pertain to the 2011 paperback edition.

The issue of animal pain is an important and increasingly popular topic within the so-called evidential problem of evil. The evidential argument contends that while evil is not logically incompatible with theism, certain types of evil make the existence of God unlikely. The argument can be formulated as:

Premise A. Gratuitous evil is inconsistent with God
Premise B. An all powerful God could and would eliminate gratuitous evil
Premise C. Gratuitous evil exists
Conclusion. It is unlikely that God exists

Within the evidential argument animal pain is often used as a paradigm example of gratuitous evil (evil which does not serve any greater good). This is particularly seen to be the case with animal pain and suffering that occurred prior to man's arrival on the scene and thus not clearly amenable to certain theistic arguments such as `The Fall'.

In the text, Murray provides a detailed discussion of the relationship between animal pain and theism looking at many of the different challenges and responses it has triggered. From my perspective the most interesting aspect of the book is the chapter that discusses the relationship between cognition and pain (based on a 2006 article co-authored with Glenn Ross `Neo-Cartesianism and the Problem of animal suffering'). In considering the relevant contemporary philosophical and scientific thought, Murray suggests that animal pain and suffering is linked to neurological complexity - greater the complexity greater pain awareness.
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14 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Craig on August 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
The biological homework of this theologian is dubious, often misleading, and based on false premises. A particularly egregious example:

"Furthermore, these cases confirm that in human beings the 'affective' pathway terminates in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the mammalian brain which was the last to evolve (and so occurs only in humanoid primates)." Michael Murray, 'Nature Red in Tooth and Claw', page 68, 1st paragraph

As any biologist could inform Murray, all mammals have a pre-frontal cortex - not just "humanoid primates". Murray has a lengthy discussion of the importance of pathways in the human pre-frontal cortex and the relation of these pathways to the human experience of pain. What he doesn't seem to realize is that in much of the laboratory research that determined these pre-frontal cortex pathways for pain experiences - the test subjects were rats.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pricilla L. Martinez on November 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I initially had my reservations with this book as I heard some say he goes on with one topic after another changing to topics which are irrelevant after reading the book however I I find this to be a false assertion. The book is extremely well written even the type is beautiful (though may be small for those with really bad sight).

1. In Chapter one he explains about both Moral and Natural Evil and the arguments usually mounted by non-Christians for an argument from evil against the existence of God. Michael Murray displays the arguments from the Christian side which shows that this simply holds no water against Christian Theism. What I found amazing is that he treated this separately as it is inccredibly important before he discussed about animals so is a great read on the problem of moral and natural evil in general.

2. Chapter two explains both the Cartesian position that animals don't feel pain to a new view called Neo-Cartesian which shows that animals feel pain but are not aware that they themselves are in pain (except higher primates) it is likened to the phenomenom known as blindpain this mainly has to do with animals lacking the second neural pathway.

3. This section is awesome it explains Animal Suffering in connection with 'the Fall', he looks at different views even Young Earth Creationism and their view though he certainly shows himself to be an Old Earth Theorist he gives great defenses for both sides and what he considers to be their weakness as he did in the second chapter even pseudopigraphic texts are quoted in support. So even if one disagees one can choose one of the alternatives.

4. This Chapter assumes Chapter 2 is false and therefore defends moral and natural evils done to animals treating them as persons.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By W. Sid Vogel on July 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow, this is not really a book for the casual reader. This is at times a tough read, but in the end it is a very insightful study of pain and suffering in the earth. This book attempts a scientific look at the question "If God is so good and great, why is there so much animal and human suffering in the world?" Good question. In fact, this is really the only question that atheists have to stand on as they struggle to try and justify their position of hating God and denying the existence of a supreme intelligence acting in the world. This study does not shy away from the description of the amazing amount of pain that is going on all around us, and always has, as one creature lives a little longer by devouring another. Billions and billions of creatures have and are dying miserable deaths of pain and agony, and infact all creatures are doomed to a death in pain and agony. Man worst of all, because he alone can spend his life worrying about his death, and has the mental capacity to experience pain in way that the lower order animals do not. Man knows he is in pain, and is afraid he is in physical trouble and is dying! Wow, thanks God! Great life you gave us down here! However, do not dispair, all is not lost, in Nature Red in Tooth and Claw we come to realize that we can see a glimpse of God's great plan for His creation, and our role in that plan, the role of our free will, and the serious responsibility we have to our creator.
This is a book for Christians or religious people, but not for the casual reader. This book will hit you in the gut, and then exercise your mind, and you must take the ride to the end to find the meaning in all the pain. I recommend this book for the serious seeker of the truth.
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