Be sure to have a look at Sahotra Sarkar’s essay at The American Prospect. He describes the recent shift of emphasis on the ID side away from biology and towards physics instead. Sarkar writes:
Initially largely unnoticed by their critics, creationists began to co-opt the fine-tuning argument when, in their book Rare Earth (2000), paleontologist Peter T. Ward and astronomer Donald Brownlee emphasized that complex life is very uncommon in the universe. Though their claims were subsequently subjected to scathing criticism by David Darling in Life Everywhere (2001) as well as other astrobiologists, they were picked up by astronomer Guillermo Gonzales (who had been a consultant for Rare Earth) and Jay Richards from the Discovery Institute.
Together, Gonzales and Richards published The Privileged Planet in 2004, which has since become the sacred text of the new stealth creationism. According to Gonzales and Richards, conditions on Earth have been carefully optimized for scientific investigation in such a way that it is “a signal revealing a universe so skillfully created for life and discovery that it seems to whisper of an extraterrestrial intelligence immeasurably more vast, more ancient, and more magnificent than anything we’ve been willing to expect to imagine.” The evidence for creation, in other words, now comes from physics, not biology.
A while back I did a post in which I described the “fine-tuning” argument as design’s last stand. It represents the last desperate hope of the design argument. In Paley’s day virtually everything in the natural world served as evidence of design. More recently, design proponents gaze at the back-side of E. coli to find evidence of God’s glory. Now they have retreated all the way to the basic constants of the universe.
It’s a very weak argument. Proponents of biological ID could argue that we know so much about the basic principles of biology that we are entitled to point to unexplained phenomena as evidence of design. In physics, by contrast, we know virtually nothng about how universes get created. If you change certain constants of the universe in isolation then life as we know it is not possible. So what? Do the values of fundamental constants get set independently from one another in the moments after the Big Bang? Is ours the only universe there is? Could other sorts of life develop under different values of the fundamental constants? We don’t know the answers to any of these questions.
The fine-tuning argument is so blatantly an argument from ignorance that it is a wonder so many otherwise intelligent people thinks it proves anything. It is barely an argument at all. In reality it is little more than bald assertion.