A reader writes

On the comments board debating about intelligent design, what bothered me about the anti-intelligent design arguments suddenly crystallized. Good Old Charlie said that calling for direct creation where evolution would be suitable for the task was not “kosher” scientific thinking. He also said that it looks like ID is a religious theory. Well, my comments about that are below:

I’m not calling for divine intervention, and I tend to agree with you that God will normally work through natural processes with only as much direct intervention as needed. However, I don’t think that the possibility of direct creation can be dogmatically excluded either, and it doesn’t really matter whether it is considered “kosher” or not.

ID may be right or wrong, but I certainly don’t believe it is a religious theory. As Mark said in his original blog, we look at objects and infer design or non-design all the time, based on patterns and arrangement of structures. I don’t see why we can’t do the same in a scientific way with living beings without having the label “religious” attached to it.

For example, SETI searches for extraterrestial life by looking for radio waves with information content – they assume that it is possible to distinguish “designed” radio waves from “undesigned”. This is not considered religious – why should it be when we apply the same standards to information content in living beings or the universe itself?

I get the sense that somewhere in here a paradigm shift is going to have to happen which will allow the hard sciences to let theology back in as “Queen of the Sciences” (her former position in the Middle Ages). Otherwise, the hard sciences will keep running into these obvious sorts of questions from laypeople like me and will keep looking oddly obscurantist as it shouts them down with complaints that “ID theory is religious!” (like that’s bad or something).