The Washington Post hosts a column by John West of the Discovery Institute in which he explains the fundamental disagreement between Darwinists (both theistic and atheistic) and Intelligent Design. Here are a couple of excerpts:
Is evolution compatible with faith in God? It's a question that is receiving lots of attention of late. [A new] Discovery Institute website www.faithandevolution.org seeks to clear-up confusion about why Darwin's theory poses such a challenge to faith in the first place. Contrary to what many people suppose, it's not because evolution proposes that living things change over millions of years, or even because it suggests that animals are descended from a common ancestor.
The real sticking point is Darwin's claim that all of life--human beings included--developed through a blind and undirected process of natural selection acting on random variations. In the words of late Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson, "Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind."
Thus Darwinism is incompatible with most versions of theism which see man's creation, and the creative process, as intended by the Creator, but there are some theists, called theistic evolutionists, who seek an accommodation with Darwin:
There are ways to try to reconcile Darwinism's undirected process with theism, but they involve throwing overboard some long-cherished beliefs about God.
The first idea to go is the belief that God directed the development of life toward specific ends. According to biologist Kenneth Miller, one of the most prominent proponents of "theistic" evolution, God did not plan the specific outcomes of evolution--including the development of human beings. Miller describes humans as "an afterthought, a minor detail, a happenstance in a history that might just as well have left us out."
While God knew that undirected evolution was so wonderful it would create some kind of creature capable of praising Him, that creature could have been "a big-brained dinosaur" or "a mollusk with exceptional mental capabilities" rather than us.
But if evolution really is undirected how did God know what would come of it? What makes Miller think that God would have any knowledge at all of how the process would turn out when He set it all in motion? And if He did know how it would turn out is it not reasonable to believe that he knew this because He established the conditions both necessary and sufficient to achieve the expected outcome.
Seeking to lessen the discomfort such arguments pose for most religious believers, Francis Collins suggests that God "could" have known the specific outcomes of evolution beforehand even though He made evolution appear "a random and undirected process." In other words, God is a cosmic trickster who misleads people into thinking that nature is blind and purposeless, even though it isn't.
Isn't it easier to suppose, if one is both an evolutionist and a theist, that God is the actual channel that guides moment by moment the flow of evolutionary history, like the bed of a river guides the flow of the stream? In this view, God doesn't actually intervene in that history rather he is the matrix in which it occurs, leading it ultimately through the twists and turns of a phylogenetic maze to his intended outcome.
The theistic evolutionist is a Darwinian in that he believes that evolution is an undirected process, but he could still be a theist and an evolutionist if he held that the process is directed. The direction could come not from miraculous interjections of biological novelty here and there throughout time by a Creator ontologically detached or separate from the evolutionary river, but one whose mind or being forms the very conduit through which the river flows and by which it is guided.RLC