I rehearse two issues around the commentary of Whigham and colleagues. (1) There really are many more reasons than those given as to why natural evolution cannot reasonably find or select the ‘optimal’ individual. (2) A series of experimental molecular biology programmes, known generically as directed evolution, can use operators and selection schemes that natural evolution cannot. When developed further using the methods of synthetic biology, there are no operators or schemes for in silico evolution that cannot be applied precisely to directed evolution. The issues raised apply only to natural evolution but not to directed evolution.