I had some thoughts about the article in Saturday's (May 5) Observer section of the Herald "Arguing the case for an intelligent designer" by Bob Harvey of the Ottawa Citizen. The article opened with the assertion that "Moral conservatives have developed a new stealth weapon in the war against the corrupting influence of godless Darwinism". It occurs to me that there is nothing new about intelligent design except perhaps the name and its position in the theological soup. The deists were heretical heroes of the 17th and 18th centuries Enlightenment (English deists Hume and Locke and French deists Voltaire, Rousseau and Diderot). They subscribed to a natural religion based on human reason and morality, on the belief in one god who after creating the world and the laws governing it refrained from interfering with the operation of those laws and on the rejection of every kind of supernatural intervention in human affairs. Now admittedly some intelligent designers would not go that far but many do.
I think the deists and the Natural Theologists such as Paley in 1803 (Natural Theology: or the Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity) predated the intelligent designers by 200 to 300 years and covered all of the bases that were represented as new in Harvey's article. The difference is that intelligent designers are preoccupied with divine roots of morality. The deists thought that morality was derived from human reason. The intelligent designers cannot bear to think they live in a world without a boss. They add only arguments such as William Dembski's cryptography as mathematical proof against natural selection. Michael Behe's eye argument has its origins in Paley, 1803 and has been comprehensively dismissed by Dawkins in the Blind Watchmaker.