An excerpt from a recent article in New Scientist:
"...creationist ideas have a powerful hold in the US, and science is still under attack. US Supreme Court decisions have made it impossible to teach divine creation as science in state-funded schools. But in response, creationists have invented "intelligent design", which they say is a scientific alternative to Darwinism (see "A sceptic's guide to intelligent design"). ID has already affected the way science is taught and perceived in schools, museums, zoos and national parks..."
For those unfamiliar with ID, it can be generally described as the assertion that certain parts of existence are best explained by positing the direct influence of an intelligent designer. ie - The Supreme Being of your choice has elected to insert his finger in the pot and give it a stir every now and again while it's simmering.
Upon first getting wind of the concept of intelligent design, I gave it nearly no thought, sloughing it off as the preposterous premise of anti-evolutionary creationists. I still think that, but the unfortunate part now is that it seems to be gaining some momentum. There is a part of me that is very thankful for being Canadian since the vast majority of this sort of thinking seems so far to be rooted in America's conservative South. (The supposition that the Grand Canyon is a by-blow of Noah's Flood ought to leave any sensible individual reeling in incredulity at the audacity of some of the claims made by those pushing the ID concept.)
I am still leery though; I know that if the ID movement continues to garner support, the first Canadian stronghold will undoubtedly rise up in my home province of Alberta. Not that I doubt it has its supporters here already. Take your pick of wacky, religious, right-wing movements and you'll find somebody waving its flag here. Alberta: we put the 'fun' back in fundamentalist dogma!
Intelligent design sticks in my craw for a couple reasons. First, as a scientifically minded and pragmatic individual, the evidence is overwhelmingly stacked in favour of evolution. Any attempt to discredit evolution is an exercise in futility. Natural selection, not god's intervening hand, has been the driving force behind existence and advancement on this planet. For a very well thought out defence of evolution, go and read Paul's post on the topic. He covered it more in-depth than I would take the time to. ID is a one-legged stool in a windstorm. If the creationists ever let go, it'll topple over of its own accord. Conversely, evolution has come under scrutiny from its own proponents for years. Such is the modus operandi of the scientific method. And evolution is still standing.
Secondly, and more aggravating to me individually, is the notion of ID as it relates to my own spiritual beliefs. I do not doubt for an instant that the universe and all of creation was brought into being by, again, the Supreme Being of your choice. The notion that certain elements of our existence would require a nudge in the right direction in the midst of their development smacks of initial imperfection. And why, in God's name, would God not have gotten it right In The Beginning? If He were a bowler He'd be getting a strike on every throw without the need to nudge the ball away from the gutter every now and again. (There is absolutely NO evidence to back any of this up. This is just me and my personal opinion based on 30+ years of interpreted experience and increasing amounts of introspection. I'm entitled to is as much as you are to yours.)
Intelligent design, my new favourite oxymoron, can be likened to George Lucas fiddling with his original Star Wars movie trilogy. He didn't like everything that he did the first time so, 20 years later and armed with new technology, he made changes. In the '70s and early '80s he didn't have the budget, and the fledgling special effects efforts, though cutting edge for the time, still fell far short of his grand vision. Deified though he may be by some, he is human and is entitled to make imperfect things. He is also entitled, given the means, to modify his imperfect things as he sees fit. (Not to say that they are now perfect, but this isn't the time for that whole 'Han Shot First' debate.)
I fervently hope that intelligence wins over the ID movement. This is not the day and age for such incommodious thinking.