I was pretty rough on the "Intelligent Design" movement last time - and I stand by that. To me, the ID concept is a thinly veiled attempt to get Creationism back in the schools as a wedge to eventually get back to teaching Christianity as part of the curriculum. What bothers me is not so much the lack of science involved - I don't expect modern scientific rigor from a "theory" based on a 3000-year old book. It bothers me more to think that the people behind ID really believe we're that stupid. Unfortunately, they're probably correct, on average, but I'll leave that for another entry...
However, I've often heard a concept that could be termed Intelligent Design that intrigues me. I don't know the source of it, but I suspect I first heard it from my dad, and we discussed it again in a late night philosophical discussion (is there any other kind of philosophical discussion?) during my recent visit. I like to call the idea "The Cosmic Cue Ball."
In short, let's assume that mainstream scientific theory is all true - the Big Bang, expanding out to make the universe, matter cooling, forming galaxies, stars, planets, and so on. Add in Evolution here on Earth to get life and eventually intelligent life. No matter how you look at it, there are some pretty unlikely chances occurring in that series of events. That can be explained by random chance - after all, in an infinite universe, it had to happen somewhere. But of course, there's really no good explanation for how the Big Bang got started in the first place. So, let's postulate an external source for the Big Bang - and since we've done so, let's explain some of those unlikely chances, too, by further assuming that it was intentional. Not only did this source cause the Monobloc to explode, it did so it just such a way as to cause the formation of everything we know today - including ourselves. Imagine a billiards shot on a table the size of the universe - if I hit it just there, with exactly this english on the ball, then this particle will hit there, and that one there, and so on, to the billionth upon billionth power...eventually leading, not as chance, but as a result of skillful intent, to a universe bearing life.
While I don't necessarily accept this concept, it does explain one thing that Big Bang and Evolution do not cover sufficiently for me - there doesn't seem to be anybody else out there. In the standard theory, we have to accept that either all other intelligent races are too far away to contact, or that by chance, we really are the first, or even ONLY race to develop. In the Cosmic Cue Ball theory, we can assume that Intelligent Life (or a side effect of our existence yet to be determined) was the goal...and the Ultimate Pool Shark didn't necessarily need two races to make the shot.
As long as I'm on about Intelligent Design again, check out today's Non Sequitur.