If Darwinism and Christianity are not opposed to one another, Darwinism and creationism most certainly are. But there is a position which appears to be somewhere in the middle — intelligent design. Intelligent design splits off from its Biblical elements (virtually all its proponents are Christians) the natural theological part of the traditional standpoint, and is a direct descendant of Paley's position. Without reference to the story in Genesis, its proponents argue that only the intelligent and supernatural intervention of God at various points in history can account for the tremendous complexity and sophistication of the biological and chemical systems that make up life. These could not have arisen by chance from simpler life forms, since changing any part of any particular system renders that system unviable. Change a small part of any vital bodily organ, for example, and that organism dies.
Intelligent design advocates link this view of systemic integrity to apparent 'missing links' in the fossil record. The great changes in the anatomical and physiological systems that were involved in evolving from, say, a dinosaur to a bird or a water to a land animal, are impossible, they argue, because any small change in the complex structures that make up particular species will be fatal. By means of supernatural, divine intervention, intelligent design thus purports to account for what it claims is a central problem for Darwinian theories, namely the gaps in the fossil record that lack intermediate forms sharing characteristics of earlier and later species. Intelligent design has many critics, for many of whom it is a sophisticated version of creationism. It is often dismissed as a pseudo-science that purports to use the same reasoning as science until it finds areas that its own version of science cannot explain. At that point it resorts to supernatural explanations, which the vast majority of scientists hold to be the opposite of good science.