Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

64 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2006
No Free Lunch, the sequel to mathematician and philosopher William Dembski's Cambridge University Press book The Design Inference, explores key questions about the origin of specified complexity. Dembski explains that the Darwinian search mechanism of random mutation coupled with natural selection is incapable of generating novel complex, specified information (CSI).

This observation translates into "No Free Lunch" (NFL) theorems, which Dembski explains are inherent constraints upon natural systems. Natural Darwinian mechanisms can shuffle this information around, but only intelligence can generate novel CSI. In other words, when it comes to generating truly novel biological complexity, Darwin can have no free lunch.

Some critics have asserted that he has never applied his model for detecting design to any real biological systems. The latter half of this book debunks this fallacious objection, and provides a detailed calculation of the CSI found in the bacterial flagellum. Dembski assesses the complexity of the flagellum on various levels, including its protein parts and its assembly instructions, finding that the amount of CSI contained in the flagellum vastly outweigh the probabilistic resources available in the history of the universe to construct such a structure, absent intelligent design.

No Free Lunch demonstrates that design theory shows great promise of providing insight in the field of evolutionary computation. If Dembski is right, then the ability of genetic algorithms to solve complex problems is a function of the amount of intelligent design inputted by their programmers.
77 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2015
 I judge the quality of a book by how many index entries I give it, in this video, I provide screen captures of my index. Anything over a page is an excellent book, this gets a page and a half of index entries. The video also discusses the Dawkins Challenge, a thought experiment related to the origin of life emerging from the discipline of intelligent design that so far has not been addressed by those of the atheist persuasion.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
98 of 149 people found the following review helpful
This book is a strong addition to the growing body of literature on Intelligent Design theory and its applicability to questions of biological origins. To those who are interested in ID, its progress, its arguments, etc., No Free Lunch (NFL) should be considered required reading; it contains important, milestone arguments for that school of thought.
NFL should also be required reading for ID's critics -- *especially* those who would assume to review it! I am dumbfounded that some of this book's reviewers here on Amazon presume to criticize Dembski, the book, or ID in general while failing to in any way engage the substance of the book; e.g. Tim Beazley comments that Dembski overlooks the possibility of common descent and Intelligent Design being compatible, when nowhere does NFL claim to disprove common descent. Jean P Villard complains that ID-proponents have failed to demonstrate that Christian doctrine follows from the truth of ID, a claim that is so far outside the scope of NFL that I question whether Villard read the book or not.
In sum, No Free Lunch speaks to the question of whether genetic algorithms - and hence Darwin's mechanism - are or are not capable of creating the sort of specified complexity that we find in the biological world, as many neo-Darwinians claim (e.g., in different ways, Stuart Kauffman and Richard Dawkins). In this work, Dembski claims to demonstrate that they are not.
Those kudos and criticisms of this book which do not deal with that claim are largely irrelevant. Time will tell whether Dembski is right or wrong about the NFL theorems and their applicability to biological origins. In the meanwhile, interested readers would be well advised to stay informed about Dembski's actual arguments and the relevant responses to them from competent critics, and one cannot know the latter without knowing the former.
44 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
56 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2006
Ignore the one-star reviews. The unifying factor in all of them is an irrational hatred of Christianity, a misrepresentation of both Christian teachings and ID, and a reliance on ad hominem attacks. Really, now, I thought most people got beyond such name-calling by about, oh, the third grade.

Despite the bombast, no one has adequately answered either Behe or Dembski. I think the evolutionists would be embarrassed by now by their reliance on so many just-so stories to support an increasingly implausible theory.
44 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on January 17, 2015
Interesting concept.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on June 15, 2015
5stars
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
66 of 110 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2002
It is disappointing to see one reviewer rely on the discredited Richard Wein, and use the "God in the gaps" argument. (If there is a Designer, of course, He/She/It/They would necessraily be in the "gaps." Where else would He/She/It/They be? Since naturalistic philosophy assumes no designer, no conceivable gap could ever convince them otherwise. NeoDarwinism is just as non-falsifiable as any alternative.) The Issue, of course, is the gaps themselves. And the nature of the gaps, which at this point turns out to be the specified complexity of these marvelous nano-machines we call biological cells. And despite the zeal of the naturalists, the gaps are huge. Grand Canyon sized and getting bigger.
Dembski's book is an essential for anyone interested in the NeoDarwinism vs Intellegent Design. It is refreshing to see a genuine scientific treatment of this subject without all the young earth Bible thumping from the creationists. Dembski succeeds in showing the bankruptcy of NeoDarwinism when it comes to how cells actually acquired their specified complexity. Does this prove that there is a Designer? Of course not. And Dembski claims nothing of the sort. But it clearly demonstrates the current utter bankruptcy (or non-existence) of the NeoDarwinists explanations and approaches the question from an entirely new paradigm.
Buy this book and tell your friends to buy it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
12 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2009
This book is inspiring and well argued. I have been interested in the ultimate question - is evolution true? - for some time now - in fact it was when I read the words of PZ Myers, "I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It's time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots. If you don't care enough for the truth to fight for it, then get out of the way."

Then, when I saw videos of Dawkins and Sagan insisting that humans are related to halibuts, and oak trees, respectively, I decided to inform myself why they were so certain of this and so unwilling to entertain alternative theories. That's when I entered the chaotic, raucous, hellish parallel universe that the evolution vs. creationism debate has become. And I bought this and several other books on the topic.

I am hoping that wherever we are on 'evolutionary' continuum, we can at least take a deep breath, let it out, and listen to one another. The mathematics in this book can, IF WE ARE RATIONAL BEINGS, contribute to some objectivity and perhaps we can all calm down again. We are told the evidence in favor of evolution is overwhelming, that we should just accept it, that to question it is merely an overt act of stupidity - I find such sentiments boorish and offputting. An intelligent person can question and can expect to find adequate explanations for those questions without being browbeaten and intellectually bullied for it.

This book is a welcome and refreshing course of instruction on the mathematical requirements for evolutionary processes to have taken place. Indeed, there is sufficient discussion here to entertain mathematics majors and PHDs for quite some time. You may want to wait for the reader's digest condensed version if your eyes always glazed over in statistics classes.

However, I did find the concept of Complex Specified Information understandable and useful. I think this author is on to something. I think his arguments need to be taken into account. I can't see any person truly interested in science lightly dismissing this book with a wave of their hand. This book is a rational and mathematical challenge to evolutionary orthodoxy.
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
67 of 114 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2004
This work by Professor Dembski attempts to defend the idea that life not only is, but must be, the product of intelligence. As a cell biologist, my graduate course work and teaching experience has demonstrated this over and over, but Dembski in this book looks at the mathematics and logic that supports this premise. He also does an excellent job responding to the arguments against the irreducible complexity concept. In my opinion, this is one of the strongest arguments for ID. The arguments concocted against it have, in my mind, only confirmed this concept. Dembski also does an excellent job responding to Dawkins and his ME THINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL analogy, which proves the opposite of what Dawkins intended. A common claim is that Dembski (and the ID movement as a whole) is only concerned about polemics and propaganda, and the movement lacks a genuine interest and competence to do real science (which I assume refers to empirical research and collecting data). I have spent much of my career collecting data. This requires a special skill but more important in science is the ability to understand and integrate this data, which takes a skill that I have come to appreciate is less common and more important than doing number crunching of measurements. There is a place for both, but a clear need exists to make sense of the data we already have. I find that students can gather date fairly effectively, but the real challenge and talent is to make sense of that data. In grading their labs I always stress this. Dembski has done an invaluable service in making sense of the extant data. The only factor preventing acceptance of his conclusions is an emotional commitment to fundamentalist Darwinism.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
49 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2003
Darwin is dead. Let's get on with it and keep science within the realm of REAL alternatives in origins research.
That pretty well summarizes No Free Lunch, which brings the reader up to date with the latest in mathematical research and design theory. The "No Free Lunch" theorems establish that information does not arise by either chance or order - the two mechanisms available to naturalism, AKA atheistic Darwinism. The only thing left is intelligence as the source of information.
This is hardly the first book to make this claim (cf. Werner Gitt's In the Beginning was Information - or for that matter, the ancient Greek philosophers had it figured out). But in a world saturated with the religion of naturalism, this blunt work destroying that religion at its very foundation stands out. When the last Darwinist is dead and buried, William Dembski will be highly ranked among those who laid the evolutionary ideology to rest.
Demski's handling of Darwinian critics, blinded by their own preconceptions and faith commitments, is excellent. While the book as a whole is too technical for many readers, Dembski outlines the main themes very well, limiting the mathematical proofs to some sections so that the remainder of the work can be read profitably by just about anyone.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.