No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence / Edition 1

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Darwin's greatest accomplishment was to show how life might be explained as the result of natural selection. But does Darwin's theory mean that life was unintended? William A. Dembski argues that it does not. In this book Dembski extends his theory of intelligent design. Building on his earlier work in The Design Inference (Cambridge, 1998), he defends that life must be the product of intelligent design. Critics of Dembski's work have argued that evolutionary algorithms show that life can be explained apart from intelligence. But by employing powerful recent results from the No Free Lunch Theory, Dembski addresses and decisively refutes such claims. As the leading proponent of intelligent design, Dembski reveals a designer capable of originating the complexity and specificity found throughout the cosmos. Scientists and theologians alike will find this book of interest as it brings the question of creation firmly into the realm of scientific debate.

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Editorial Reviews

The valid philosophical arguments and historical examples make the study really agreeable to a large audience.
Research News and Opportunities In Science and Theology
No Free Lunch is written for scholars and is filled with equations and careful technical definitions. Much of the text, however, is accessible for a broad audience and the book should prove useful to anyone wishing to explore the degree to which intelligent design can be formulated in a mathematically rigorous way.
Journal of Scientific Exploration
One of the best books available about ID.
Frank J. Tipler
In No Free Lunch, William Dembski gives the most profound challenge to the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution since this theory was first formulated in the 1930s. I differ from Dembski on some points, mainly in ways which strengthen his conclusion.
Martin Poenie
In this book, William Dembski takes his statistical work on inferring design and translates it into an information-theoretic apparatus relevant to understanding biological fitness. In doing so, he has brought his argument for intelligent design into a domain that overlaps current work in evolutionary biology. As I see it, this is a landmark for intelligent design theory because, for the first time, it makes it possible to objectively evaluate the claims of evolutionary biology and intelligent design on common ground.
Moshe Koppel
Dembski lays the foundations for a research project aimed at answering one of the most fundamental scientific questions of our time: What is the maximal specified complexity that can be reasonably expected to emerge (in a given time frame) with and without various design assumptions?
Muzaffar Iqbal
This sequel to The Design Inference further enhances the credibility of Intelligent Design as a sound research program. Through solid historical and philosophical arguments, Dembski succeeds in showing how specified complexity reliably detects design. His critique of Darwinian and other naturalistic accounts of evolution is built on a set of powerful and lucid arguments; his formulation of an alternative to these accounts is simply compelling.
Michael Ruse
I disagree strongly with the position taken by William Dembski. But I do think that he argues strongly and that those of us who do not accept his conclusions should read his book and form our own opinions and counterarguments. He should not be ignored.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742512979
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 11/15/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

William A. Dembski is associate research professor in the conceptual foundations of science at Baylor University and senior fellow with Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture in Seattle.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 List of Illustrations Part 2 Preface Part 3 The Third Mode of Explanation Chapter 4 Necessity, Chance, and Design Chapter 5 Rehabilitating Design Chapter 6 The Complexity-Specification Criterion Chapter 7 Specification Chapter 8 Probabilistic Resources Chapter 9 False Negatives and False Positives Chapter 10 Why the Criterion Works Chapter 11 The Darwinian Challenge to Design Chapter 12 The Constraning of Contingency Chapter 13 The Darwinian Extrapolation Part 14 Another Way to Detect Design? Chapter 15 Fisher's Approach to Eliminating Chance Chapter 16 Generalizing Fisher's Approach Chapter 17 Case Study: Nicholas Caputo Chapter 18 Case Study: The Comprehensibility of Bit Strings Chapter 19 Detachability Chapter 20 Sweeping the Field of Chance Hypotheses Chapter 21 Justifying the Generalization Chapter 22 The Inflation of Probabilistic Resources Chapter 23 Design by Comparison Chapter 24 Design by Elimination Part 25 Specified Complexity as Information Chapter 26 Information Chapter 27 Syntactic, Statistical, and Algorithmic Information Chapter 28 Information in Context Chapter 29 Conceptual and Physical Information Chapter 30 Complex Specified Information Chapter 31 Semantic Information Chapter 32 Biological Information Chapter 33 The Origin of Comlex Specified Information Chapter 34 The Law of Conservation of Information Chapter 35 A Fourth Law of Thermodynamics? Part 36 Evolutionary Algorithms Chapter 37 METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL Chapter 38 Optimization Chapter 39 Statement of the Problem Chapter 40 Choosing the Right Fitness Function Chapter 41 Blind Search Chapter 42 The No Free Lunch Theorems Chapter 43 The Displacement Problem Chapter 44 Darwinian Evolution in Nature Chapter 45 Following the Information Trail Chapter 46 Coevolving Fitness Landscapes Part 47 The Emergence of Irreducibly Complex Systems Chapter 48 The Casual Specificity Problem Chapter 49 The Challenge of Irreducible Complexity Chapter 50 Scaffolding and Roman Arches Chapter 51 Co-optation, Patchwork, and Bricolage Chapter 52 Incremental Indispensability Chapter 53 Reducible Complexity Chapter 54 Miscellaneous Objections Chapter 55 The Logic of Invariants Chapter 56 Fine-Tuning Irreducible Complexity Chapter 57 Doing the Calculation Part 58 Design as a Scientific Research Program Chapter 59 Outline of a Positive Research Program Chapter 60 The Pattern of Evolution Chapter 61 The Incompleteness of Natural Laws Chapter 62 Does Specified Complexity Have a Mechanism? Chapter 63 The Nature of Nature Chapter 64 Must All Design in Nature Be Front-Loaded? Chapter 65 Embodied and Unembodied Designers Chapter 66 Who Designed the Designer? Chapter 67 Testability Chapter 68 Magic, Mechanism, and Design Part 69 Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2002

    Magical lunch.

    After reading Dembski's NFL, several of his articles, and TDI, I have come to several conclusions: 1. He would be taken much more seriously if you include a variety of biological systems other than bacterial flagellum. For example, some which are fairly well represented in the fossil record. 2. He could be more forthcoming about the conclusions that can be drawn in quantifying probabilities from unknown conditions and mechanisms. It does us no good to use statistical procedures to analyze the probability that the flagellum developed when we can only guess under what conditions and from what it developed. Make sense? 3. He needs to provide some type of positive evidence or explanation about from whence the ID of biological organisms comes. Rather than just detecting Design (?) and calling it quits. If it is a designer, who, when, where, and how (the same level of evidence he demands from Biologists). Would such a designer himself possess irreducible complexity? If so would we find ourselves with an infinite supply of designers or is there at long last a natural causal process?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2002

    Excellent Summation of Dembski's Most Current Thinking

    No Free Lunch straddles the line between being a popular science book and providing the technically sophisticated some real meat to chew on. Dembski lays out what he believes to be serious challenges to the power of Darwinian natural selection. In doing this, Dembski develops a rigorous method for detecting objects/events that have been designed by intelligent agents. He thus draws a dichotomy between the causal powers of natural law, chance, and intelligent agency, arguing that there are certain forms of 'specified complexity' which can only be the result of the actions of an intelligent agent. Dembski uses information and probability theory to develop the theoretical underpinnings of this very insightful intuition. Dembski defines a Law of Conservation of Information, applies it to the Maxwell Demon problem, introduces a proposed 4th Law of Thermodynamics. He even applies his work to a biological system: the bacterial flagellum. All in all, I found the book a pleasure to read. Dembski uses many examples from popular culture to drive his points home, and in doing so makes the implications of his work crystal clear.

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