What is Intelligent Design (ID)?
Intelligent Design (ID) is the public title of a new scientific program which studies evidence of design in nature. Recent discoveries in the fields of biology, cosmology, and information theory indicate that Darwinian concepts of chance and necessity are an insufficient explanation for the astonishing complexity and integration observed in living systems. These discoveries are leading a growing number of scientists to doubt the materialist philosophy which underpins Darwinian evolution. Intelligent Design should not be confused with religion, it is a scientific enterprise; however, the observations and hypotheses of Intelligent Design do have philosophical and theological implications in the same manner as Darwinian naturalism had implications beyond the study of biology.
Evolution, which could best be described as a creation story for atheists, was a compelling and plausible theory when it was based upon 19th Century understanding of biology and chemistry. Early 20th Century discoveries began to reveal obstacles to evolution which were unknown in Darwin’s time but proponents of the theory believed that these obstacles were more apparent than real, it was expected that future discoveries would provide solutions. Contrary to expectations, future discoveries revealed ever greater barriers to the possibility of naturalistic evolution.
As advances in chemistry, micro-biology, and information theory demonstrated that random mutations could not account for the advances in biological design some researchers were drawn to the conclusion that life exhibits features which can only be explained as the hallmarks of design. The realization that biological entities appear designed is not limited to proponents of ID, some of evolutions more vociferous defenders observed evidence of design, but they discount the evidence for philosophical reasons. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, once wrote that biologists must constantly remind themselves that what they see was not designed but evolved and Richard Dawkins wrote, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”
The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.
In a broader sense, Intelligent Design is simply the science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. Design detection is used in a number of scientific fields, including anthropology, forensic sciences that seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). An inference that certain biological information may be the product of an intelligent cause can be tested or evaluated in the same manner as scientists daily test for design in other sciences.
ID is controversial because of the implications of its evidence, rather than the significant weight of its evidence. ID proponents believe science should be conducted objectively, without regard to the implications of its findings. This is particularly necessary in origins science because of its historical (and thus very subjective) nature, and because it is a science that unavoidably impacts religion.
Positive evidence of design in living systems consists of the semantic, meaningful or functional nature of biological information, the lack of any known law that can explain the sequence of symbols that carry the “messages,” and statistical and experimental evidence that tends to rule out chance as a plausible explanation. Other evidence challenges the adequacy of natural or material causes to explain both the origin and diversity of life.
Source, Uncommon Descent,“ID Defined”