Until recently I thought that the folks who twist themselves into pretzels in order to validate at least some form of intelligent design do so in order to defend their ever shrinking island of rationality in their quest to reasonably argue in favor of an intelligent creator. As it turned out, the issue goes deeper than that.
The motivation behind any and all intelligent design conjectures is not an attempt to demonstrate intelligence, not even design, per se but to vindicate the emergence and evolution of universe as a deliberate and intentional act. As I was told, without deliberate, intentional creation, the whole idea of God and all faith in such God goes away.
But is that really the case?
The traditional (and universal) view of deliberate Creator of monotheism is a transcendent and immanent (ground of) Being. A thinking and planning entity intentionally producing the physical in a way which leads to some desired outcome which then defines the particular meaning of each part of creation. Depending on school of thought, this Being is generally viewed as being able to, at least, communicate with its creation (if not directly influencing it), and is usually referenced as He.
However, this is a rather strange hybrid of various misinterpreted concepts.
Transcendent and immanent God is basically the Great Spirit of animism. Such God exists in a spiritual realm that transcends the physical. At the same time it permeates the physical as its immanent animating force. No matter how you twist it, such view is undiluted dualism.
Yet, the traditional animistic dualism considers Him of Yang, which makes up the spiritual realm (Heavenly Father) an equal counterpart to Her of Yin, which makes up the physical (Mother Earth). He, as the creative force, has then the intent or drive to shape Her, the receptive vessel that gives conceptual forms their actual palpability.
You can see this also in works of e.g. Carlos Castaneda, the godfather of modern spirituality, whose books are littered with the word “intent” and who treats it as one of the cornerstones of his ideas. He defines intent as a force in the universe to which everything that exists in cosmos is connected and which sorcerers who lose their self-importance (i.e. ego) can attune to in order to accomplish even the improbable.
Not only is it a perfect rendering of animistic worldview, it is also pretty much the description of Tao.
As you can see, although the word “intent” is used abundantly in all of those examples, there is no mention of deliberation. Creative intent does not ponder what to create. The conceptual force does not make plans to create A in order to arrive at B. Quite to the contrary — the pure power of creation at its peak rests on total detachment from outcomes.
Looking at other accounts reveals the same.
Creation of universe in Hinduism is described as “lila”. This Sanskrit term usually translates as “child’s play”. Even though a look into dictionary reveals a slightly broader meaning — a playful creation of graceful appearance (beauty) as a pastime or amusement — “lila”, in essence, indeed denotes a sort of “child’s play”.
Surprisingly, even in Bible you can read God saying out of the blue, “Let there be light,” and, voila, light emerges. It’s only ex-post that God proclaims the light to be good and rolls with it. You may call it random mutation followed by natural selection.
After all, objective observation of nature, in other words science, shows no deliberate intent in the way in which universe undergoes its changes. Nature is simply a self-interacting, self-organizing, and self-regulating system. And a self-regulating system that arises from itself is the only system that treats all of its components equally — no part of the universe gets a preferential treatment, not even physical laws, which in turn squares completely with the notion of an all-loving, benevolent, or impartial creator who upholds (because is) each of its creations with the same amount of affection.
So, the absence of deliberate intent does not make the idea of God and all belief in God go away, it only drastically changes the view of who or what God actually is. Conversely, deliberate design is in a sense an abuse of creativity. After all, we all know where good intentions lead, let alone the bad ones.
But what’s best is that you don’t have to rely on any of these secondhand accounts because you can observe and verify what they claim directly for yourself.
You only need a little bit of faith that you can do so.