Today, many would assume that Charles Darwin absolutely rejected any claim of intelligent design in nature. However, review of his initial writings reveals that Darwin accepted some aspects of this view. His conceptualization of design was founded on both the cosmological and the teleological ideas from classical natural theology. When Darwin discovered the dynamic process of natural selection, he rejected the old teleological argument as formulated by William Paley. However, he was never able to ignore the powerful experience of the beauty and complexity of an intelligently designed universe, as a whole. He corresponded with Asa Gray on religious themes, particularly touching the problem of pain and intelligent design in nature. The term “intelligent design” was probably introduced by William Whewell. Principally for theological and philosophical reasons, Darwin could only accept the concept for the universe as a whole, not with respect to individual elements of the living world.
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 2013, Vol 56, Issue 1, p. 78-98