The Design Revolution by mathematician and philosopher William Dembski is perhaps the best "bang for your buck" treatment on intelligent design. Dembski is a leading design theorist and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute. This popular work serves almost as an "FAQ" on intelligent design. It is ideal for the layperson who would like to understand intelligent design and see how design proponents answer objections from critics.
Dembski tackles common objections such as "is intelligent design simply disguised theology?" and "is intelligent design the same as creationism?" Dembski explains that while intelligent design may have theological implications, the theory itself is based upon empirical data, making it a science. In fact, Dembski points out that design is no different in this respect from Darwinism, which also has theological implications. Moreover, since intelligent design does not seek to answer religious questions like the identity of the designer, and does not derive its claims from religious texts such as Genesis, the theory is clearly distinct from creationism.
Dembski also answers questions such as "does design requires miracles," "how can 'specified complexity' provide a reliable indicator of design?" "is intelligent design testable?" and whether intelligent design is just a "political agenda masquerading as a scientific research program." The book also tackles core philosophical objections to design, such as whether we can infer design if we do not have direct experience with an intelligent designer in biology? Dembski's answer is crystal clear: "the signs of intelligence that occur in human artifacts and biological systems are not merely analogous. They are isomorphic, for we find the exact same form of specified complexity in each." (pg. 230)
The Design Revolution explores the research program offered by intelligent design as well as many other crucial topics in the debate. For those wanting a solid introduction to intelligent design, this book is probably the best bang for both your buck and your time.
The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design