I have been reading with interest the ongoing debates within the scientific community on the topic of intelligent design.
Intelligent design looks at the underlying complexity of nature, life and the universe and concludes that there is a world of meaning and purpose consistent with a divine intelligence. Evolution implies the opposite: the underlying complexity of nature, life and the universe evolved by random chance, without specific meaning or purpose and without divine intervention.
Ultimately the discussion on intelligent design becomes a philosphical discussion.
Here is an excerpt on intelligent design as well as a link to some interesting debates on the topic. The Discovery Institute and the Center for Science and Culture are the main proponents of intelligent design.
The idea that an organism’s complexity is evidence for the existence of a cosmic designer was advanced centuries before Charles Darwin was born. Its best-known exponent was English theologian William Paley, creator of the famous watchmaker analogy. If we find a pocket watch in a field, Paley wrote in 1802, we immediately infer that it was produced not by natural processes acting blindly but by a designing human intellect. Likewise, he reasoned, the natural world contains abundant evidence of a supernatural creator. The argument from design, as it is known, prevailed as an explanation of the natural world until the publication of the Origin of Species in 1859. The weight of the evidence that Darwin had patiently gathered swiftly convinced scientists that evolution by natural selection better explained life’s complexity and diversity. “I cannot possibly believe,” wrote Darwin in 1868, “that a false theory would explain so many classes of facts.”
ID proponents accept that some species do change and that Earth is much more than 6,000 years old but reject that evolution accounts for the array of species. In some circles, however, opposition to the concept of evolution has persisted to the present. The argument from design has recently been revived by a number of academics with scientific credentials, who maintain that their version of the idea (unlike Paley’s) is soundly supported by both microbiology and mathematics. These antievolutionists differ from fundamentalist creationists in that they accept that some species do change (but not much) and that Earth is much more than 6,000 years old. Like their predecessors, however, they reject the idea that evolution accounts for the array of species we see today, and they seek to have their concept — known as intelligent design — included in the science curriculum of schools. ID is getting a hearing in some political and educational circles.