Dembski (1998d) has written, "As Christians we know that naturalism is false" (14). Obviously, if one "knows" something, this ends a discussion. Since 1998, his attitude does not seem to have changed. Recently (2002d), he asserted that the ID advocates will never capitulate to their detractors. If so, then his statement testifies to a fact noted by critics of the ID "theory": ID is not science. Scientists normally admit that, no matter what theories are commonly accepted at any time, there is always a chance they may be overturned by new evidence. Genuine scientists would not make statements about never capitulating to their detractors, no matter what.

The following points encapsulate the gist of this chapter:

• Dembski's critique of Dawkins's targeted evolutionary algorithm fails to repudiate the illustrative value of Dawkins's example, which demonstrates how supplementing random changes with a suitable law increases the rate of evolution by many orders of magnitude.

• Dembski ignores Dawkins's targetless evolutionary algorithm, which successfully illustrates spontaneous increase of complexity in an evolutionary process.

• Contrary to Dembski's assertions, evolutionary algorithms routinely outperform a random search.

• Contrary to Dembski assertion, the NFL theorems do not make Darwinian evolution impossible. Dembski's attempt to invoke the theorems to prove otherwise ignores the fact that they assert the equal performance of all algorithms only if averaged over all fitness functions.

• Dembski's constant references to targets when he discusses optimization searches are based on his misinterpretation of the NFL theorems, which entail no concept of a target. Moreover, his discourse is irrelevant to Darwinian evolution, which is targetless.

• The so-called displacement problem, touted by Dembski as the core of his thesis, is a phantom because evolutionary algorithms face given, specific fitness landscapes. The landscape supplies sufficient information to continue and (when appropriate) complete a search; there is no need to search the higher-order information-resource space.

• The question "Why are the evolutionary algorithms actually observed in the biosphere well adjusted to the actually observed fitness functions?" belongs in the general discussion of anthropic coincidences. The arguments showing that the anthropic coincidences do not require the hypothesis of a supernatural intelligence also answer the questions about the compatibility of fitness functions and evolutionary algorithms.


I had the privilege of advice from David H. Wolpert, co-author of the no-free-lunch theorems, who shared ideas pertaining both to the essence of the theorems and to Dembski's treatment of them. I also appreciate comments by Taner Edis, Gordon Elliott, Thomas D. Schneider, Jeffrey Shallit, Erik Tellgren, Matt Young, and especially Brendan McKay. Of course, the opinions and arguments in this chapter, and even more so possible errors, are mine.

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