After having just listened to an interview with William Dembski, I think I’ve come to realize that a seminal question involved in the intelligent design vs. evolution (darwinian) debate is whether Nature involves teleology. If one is inclined to believe that Natural processes are teleologically oriented then it seems one will be inclined to believe in an I.D. analysis of information-generation (genetic mutation) insofar as biological structures are concerned.
Of course, Teilhard de Chardin would have said that there was clear teleology to the process of evolution, and he clearly doesn’t qualify as an Intelligent Design theorist, just as typical and sophisticated theistic evolutionists do not qualify as I.D. Theorists just because they believe in an intelligently designed universe or even Teleology.
I suppose the key would be that Intelligent Design stipulates that design/teleology can be confidently detected in Nature itself. Perhaps that’s why it is so controversial – it is as controversial as Leibniz’s proposal of teleology in nature, appealing to substantial forms. However, what is clear is that Intelligent Design doesn’t get one anything like a transcendent creator of the universe, let alone ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’. Therefore, Intelligent Design may not immediately conflict with Naturalism per se. What, then, is the cause of the controversy? Well, perhaps it is that the project of Naturalism has been fuelled by enlightenment optimism which has been proud about distancing itself from anything like medieval metaphysics, and thus teleology and substantial forms. More relevantly, perhaps it is that identifying or detecting teleology in the physical world implies something very close to Theistic metaphysics. However, of course, since Naturalism already commits one to deny the principle of sufficient reason (or so I take it), if a Naturalist believes in brute facts they ought not have a problem stipulating teleology without any sufficient reason for teleology in nature.