My dad just asked me about intelligent design in an email. He is a probing sort and he knows me like a son so he knew what he might expect. I am no expert on science or religion but I have the following to say on the matter and this is also the answer to my father.
From what I have seen or heard, Intelligent Design is mostly focused on the biomechanics of life, mutation, cells, adaptivity and so on. As far as the mind or thought goes I believe the intelligent design theory tries to construct the natural world around us in such a way that it demands the need for a Creator. This would then allow for the possibility that the creator had supernaturally endowed humanity with the unique ability to have complex thoughts and emotions and a soul.
Allowing for this special relationship between humanity and Creator is the end goal of the theory, and the biomechanics of 'scripted evolution' and 'predetermined adaptivity' is just a way of getting around all of the accepted science of cellular biology and modern evolutionary theory. Modern science, not needing to justify an end goal in this way, simply records and categorizes empirical facts regardless of the overall impression that is achieved.
The amalgam of these facts is decontested as a theory. This theory is a working model that explains and agrees with all of the facts noted thus far. New facts that are recorded or discovered are integrated into the existing theory as far as is possible and to the extent that this is impossible, the theory is modified. If this happens often or a set of facts shatters the pre-existing theory, a new theory must be worked out. This process is what philosopher Thomas Kuhn coined as a 'paradigm shift'. This can all happen because true science has no overarching goal that is so defining that it cannot be tossed aside in the face of the facts. It is the facts themselves that are the goal. It is truth itself that is the end.
Religion, rather than having a 'paradigm shift' in the face of new facts, seeks to re-record the observable facts or manipulate the facts in such a way that they meet the needs of the religious-theory's goals (i.e. that there is a special relationship between humanity and a creator). The theory or the re-messaging of the facts as Intelligent Design can only be seen as means to an end to the religious philosopher/scientist. The end or goal is to make an allowance for or assert a need for god in scientific theory.
The business about facts, theory and the adaptiveness of theory to facts is in some ways like statistics. The more facts you have that have to agree with the modern theory, the more likely the theory is valid or useful. Early scientific theories were especially susceptible to being over thrown because each new fact dramatically changed the nature of the population of facts. As a constant, we have seen since the beginning of recorded history that each new fact leads us further away from
a) the need for a creator in the explanation of the world and,
b)the possibility that any supernatural, unrecorded creator or etc. exists in the first place.
The same thinking that leads to discounting the beliefs of astrologers and the séance must lead us against the belief in vampires, unicorns, Mithras, Zeus, Isis, Odin, Baldur, and the Judeo/Christian/Muslim God. The successes of the just mentioned cultural phenomenon have been directly proportional to the willingness or ability of their host cultures to cling to them. Each face the friction of revealed fact and that friction is directly proportional to the amount of collective self-delusion that the culture has to endure to keep the superstition. The willingness to believe in unicorns was not equal to or greater than the amount of friction (through revealed fact) that the host culture encountered. In the light of sophisticated science, the level of self-delusion that allows many to cling to a monotheism (of choice) is astounding and yet we see anecdotally, that the cultures where these views are kept best are perhaps the most self-deluded.
I clam that this is an unsustainable situation and that the cultural willingness to be self deluded will be less than the amount required to over come the friction of belief. Intelligent design is an effort to mitigate the friction of observable fact on the chosen goal of God having a place in credible thought. The substance of intelligent design though is just a different self-delusion. This transference of incredulity though is useful for the theist though because it allows the responsibility of deceit and the self-delusion to rest on a select group of pseudo scientist/philosophers. The masses are relieved of their self-delusion as the friction of belief has been mitigated by a new set of 'facts'.