Darwinism Evolution Intelligent Design

Dembski on “No Free Lunch”

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I’ve just learned that the New Yorker is doing a major piece on intelligent design next week written by Allen Orr. Apparently my use of the No Free Lunch theorems is again on the table for criticism, with Orr arguing that I misapply them to evolutionary biology. For my previous encounter with him on this question, go here. From what I’ve learned of the article, I expect Orr to recycle his old objections. For my most recent work in this area (as well as an elegant measure-theoretic formulation and proof of a No Free Lunch theorem), see my article “Searching Large Spaces.” Note that I never argued that NFL shows that conventional evolutionary theory does not work. The argument was always more subtle: NFL shows that the searches that could make evolution work have to be suitably constrained. These constraints, I then argue, must result from intelligence. To make this argument work, I introduce the key notion of displacement. Displacement, not No Free Lunch, is where the action is.

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