The Intelligent Design movement accuses biologists of claiming to know more, and with a greater degree of certainty, than they do. I would like to suggest that the proponents of ID are claiming to know less than they think they do. No true scientist, whether driven by intellectual curiosity or the desire to be famous, would claim to have found evidence that there was intervention by some powerful intelligence in our world, and then throw up their hands and say “but we have no way of knowing whether it was a deity, an alien, or what.” That isn’t an instance of humility, but of strategy, and we all know why the strategy is being used: to wedge ID into science classrooms by disconnecting it from religion.
If the proponents of ID were truly indifferent about where their “purely scientific investigations” lead, they would be eagerly exploring areas that they are currently avoiding. I return once more to the mole. William Dembski claims not to accept universal common descent. If ID were like any other form of science thus far developed, its researchers would be asking about the implications of such a view. The mole has non-functional (and in some cases skin and fur-covered) eyes. What are the options? Perhaps it was created by a being intelligent enough to create life but not quite smart enough to realize that an eyeless organism makes more sense than one with non-functional eyes. Or it was created by a being whose organism do not stand the test of time and are “devolving” (a claim that creationists have often made). Or it was created by a being who, when angry at humans, punished all living things as well (another claim creationists have made).
These are all logical possibilities that follow naturally from ID’s premises, arguments and assertions. What an exciting research opportunity! If this is a purely scientific investigation, then any of the above outcomes would be equally welcome. But of course, it isn’t. Yet I’ll be criticized, in completely hypocritical fashion, by proponents of ID if I mention that evolution avoids some of these unpleasant implications and is theologically preferable.
Intelligent design is intended as a wedge to get materialism out of science and society. But in fact it is a wedge that, if used, will break apart Christian faith even more effectively. Genuine science, on the other hand, does indeed require that we rethink our beliefs, but its effects on faith are far less destructive than those of young-earth creationism and intelligent design. As Pascal famously said, “A little science distances one from God, but a lot brings one back.”