So tell me, in a nutshell, what the debate is exactly, and where intelligent design (an idea I find problematic) plays into it?
There really is no debate to it, but creationists use scientific evidence that we might not be here by accident to claim that this means that god, or some un-named intelligent designer, is behind our existence in this universe.
This is an unwarrented assumption without more direct proof, since any good physical need for us to be here will accomplish the same thing, so the latter *should-be* the default scientific position, and this should be the end of the story.
Unfortunately for science, there is an extremely strong tendency among non-creationists to deny the significance of this evidence, rather than to look for some good physical reason for why our presence in this universe might be important enough to the physical process to justify that the forces of the universe would be "set-up" to bring us into existence.
There is an almost unbelievable array of these "ecobalanced" anthropic coincidences that are necessary to our existence, ranging from our local ecosystem, all the way up to the near-perfectly balanced structure of the universe itself, which cannot be be explained by any other means than the anthropic principle.
There are three ways to interpret the evidence:
1) God or some intelliget designer is behind the "fine-tuning". Creationists believe that there is purpose in nature.
2) The balanced pencils and balls on hilltops is purely accidental random chance occurrence. Anti-centrists believe that there is no "higher" purpose in nature.
3) Humans are necessary to the physics of the universe, so there is purpose in nature in this context, as well.
Number three is the reason that the anthropic principle was first introduced by Brandon Carter, but virtually nobody will recognize the hardest evidence for anthropic specialness, even when they are confronted with valid supporting science, and even though this means that there should be an intricate link between Darwin's theory and this feature of our universe, which carries ramifacations that go right to the highest level of science.
The creation/evolution debate, (including all of the common aspects of ideological conflict between the "right" and the "left"), is the main problem here, one side says "black", so the other side *automatically* says "white" because they buy the hype that "black" means that godidit. They don't even think to look for why "black" might be correct for different reasons than creationists push on them, due only to their knee-jerk "auto-reaction*, and they only think of "creationism" when they see it.
There is also a misplaced impression among most physicists that the idea that we are somehow significant to the physics of the universe is just geocentrically arrogant and so they dismiss the idea out of hand, without attempting to complete the principle, even though Brandon Carter had carefully explained needed to be done.
It doesn't take much looking to find out that the special physics doesn't only apply to the Earth, rather, it fits the profile of every spiral galaxy that evolved at approximantely the same time and location as ours did, so human arrogance is not even the huge factor that they wrongly presume it to be... IF they weren't pre-conditioned against this science from the get-go.
I commonly run into willful ignorance, dishonesty, and "silent denial" from people that I never would have expected it from, and I can prove that I just as commonly expose this nasty little truth, not that it matters to them.