When crop circles were first encountered no one seriously believed they weren’t intelligently designed. Why? Because no known or reasonably possible natural (natural defined as no intelligent agency involved) sequence of events could adequately explain how they were formed.
ID is the theory that certain patterns found in nature have no known or reasonably possible natural sequence of events that can adequately explain how they were formed. Is it a religious postulate that crop circles aren’t of natural origin? Of course not. By the same token ID is not making a religious statement.
Now some might object that we arrived at the conclusion that crop circles were of intelligent origin because mischievous intelligent agents were known to exist in the area. That’s a bogus argument unless the person holding it out is willing to say a figure like a crop circle carved into an asteroid would be presumed to have an origin devoid of intelligent agency.
The problem for ID is that it is extremely difficult to precisely quantify what patterns are too improbable for known or possible natural mechanisms to explain. We seem to have no problem intuitively recognizing them, as in the case of crop circles, and this handily explains why so many people intuitively accept the premise of ID. It takes only a short dissertation to adequately elucidate the concept of ID while 150 years of unending attempt to dispute it with the theory of natural selection has failed to convince more than a small minority ID has no rational merit.
Comment on comments as of 2/9/06 3pm:
The $64,000 question remains unanswered.
If a pattern like the one above were discovered not in a farmerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s field but carved into an asteroid would you presume it had an origin devoid of intelligent agency?
Answer yes or no, then support your answer. If you dare!