A while ago, I commented on Ed Brayton's misgivings about ID. Brayton noted that among ID investigators, there were different attitudes towards "the theory that all modern life forms are derived from one or a few common ancestors via descent with modification" – I, for example, accept it, whereas Paul Nelson from ID the Future rejects it. So, Brayton inquired, what does ID say about common descent? My answer, as I gave him at that time, was that ID itself didn't take a stand on common descent, just like evolutionary theory itself didn't take a stand on the discussions of tradition gradualism vs. punctualism, adaptationism vs. structuralism, etc.
Earlier today, I cracked open a new book, The Spark of Life: Darwin and the Primeval Soup by Christopher Willis and Jeffrey Bada, and was reminded of my answer by a passage in the introduction. After mentioning physicist Freeman Dyson's suggestion that the first organisms were nothing but bags of metabolic pathways, Willis and Bada write:
"Dyson's idea illustrates vividly the severe fragmentation of viewpoints among scientists who deal with the origin of life. Dyson and other scientists, such as Gunter WÃ¤chtershÃ¤user of Munich, David Deamer of the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Doron Lancet of the Weiszmann Institute in Israel, are firm believers that metabolism must have come first. Another and much larger group of scientists, including Stanley Miller of the University of California at San Diego, Thomas Cech of the University of Colorado, and Leslie Orgel of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, believe just as firmly that gene replication came first.
This second group is hardly monolithic. There are endless arguments among them – for example, what was the nature of the first genetic material? Was it ribonucleic acid (RNA)? Did some other simpler genetic material precede RNA? Is it possible to construct simple molecules capable of carrying genetic information in the laboratory"
Willis and Bada believe that their book will provide the answer that'll unite the field, but their describtion of the current situation is instructive. Like the statement "Some features of life are intelligently designed" is compatible with multiple scenarios, so is the statement "Life is the result of purely unintelligent processes". Each statement act as a common denominator for a varied group of people, holding to different scenarios, some more developed and well-supported than others.