I’m a bit surprised by the amount of publicity that the Intelligent Design movement has managed to stir up. I expected their opponents to be more successful at marginalizing them. And despite their defeat in Dover, I think the ID proponents are probably helped by all the exposure since most religious folks will be inclined to agree with them.
While I’m not convinced by the ID arguments, I do give them credit for recognizing the threat that metaphysical naturalism presents to their view of creation specifically and religion in general. The more vocal critics of ID, such as Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins, are not simply objecting to the views of Young Earth Creationists even though the debate often seems to be framed as if the Young Earthers are the only group which criticizes evolutionary theory. Dawkins and Dennett are opposed to Creationists of all stripes. And if you are a theist, I think you have to be a Creationist at some level. I’m not aware of any form of theism that doesn’t claim that a god intentionally created the world.
Regardless of your particular views on the nature of God, if you are a theist, you are committed to the notion that God directly affected the universe at some point whether it be through miracles, fine tuning of constants or some kind of directed evolution. And that notion is in direct opposition to the views of people like Dennett and Dawkins. In their view the creation of the universe was undirected, meaning there was no director or no God. It’s not an accident that the subtitle of Dawkins’s “The Blind Watchmaker” is “Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design”.
I think that a major motivation for the ID crowd is the desire to oppose this metaphysical view. They recognize that it is dangerous for theistic beliefs of all stripes. If metaphysical naturalism is correct, then theists that believe that they can reconcile their religious views with evolution are simply kidding themselves. Their notions about God would be fundamentally flawed in exactly the same way as the views of Young Earthers. Of course, these theists would rightfully believe that their ideas about God are more reasonable than the ideas of the Young Earthers. But that would not be much different than having a more reasonable notion of the Tooth Fairy. In the end, you are still wrong.