An intelligent cause or an undirected process? Harmonia praestabilita (Leibniz' version of the more fashionable "fine-tuned universe") or a blind watchmaker? Many discussions on ID revolve around the validity of teleological arguments.
The booming cognitive sciences may hold the key for a better understanding of human's preference for teleological arguments. It seems that counterintuitive arguments like the absence of a divine being are mostly beyond our intuitive mental capacities and it needs therefore years of education to overcome these deeply-rooted convictions.
For what it's worth, an article on infantile intuition and teleology (one of the most powerful metaphors in western history):
Recent research has led to the Promiscuous Teleology theory, which argues that children tend provide teleological explanations for a broader range of instances than adults, from artificacts, to biological kinds and natural, non-biological kinds such as rock formations and whether phenomena. This tendency results from a further tendency to give purposeful explanations when other types of causal explanations are not obvious, as well as a hair-triggered intentional reasoning mechanism. Researchers have shown that up until about 10 years, an age at which most U.S. children will have received a sufficient amount of science education to provide non-teleological explanations for non-biological natural phenomena, children give teleological explanations for these sorts of phenomena.
When asked what the "function," if there is one, of various properties of the properties of artificats, biological kinds, and non-biological natural kinds, U.S. children younger than ten will readily provide a functional explanation, and prefer functional to physical explanations when given a choice. Children who are told stories about the origins of natural kinds (biological or non-biological), and later asked to recall those stories, often "reconstruct" them in order to make them fit more teleological explanations. British children have also been shown to have this tendency, though it is not as strong in them as it is in U.S. children, a fact likely due to the differences in religiosity between the the U.S. and the U.K. Children in the United States are more likely to be exposed to design explanations for natural phenomena at an early age than British children are.
If children have a natural tendency to give teleological explanations for natural phenomena, they may also believe that such phenomena were intentionally created by an intelligent designer. And, in fact, U.S. children between the ages of 5 and 11, from both highly religious and non-religious households, will, if given the choice, answer that biological entities were created by God. Only after 11 do the tendencies to believe that God created animals begin to diverge for these two groups.
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