People often say this or that is not "science" or that "science" has proven this or "science" can or can't do that. Are they all talking about the same thing? Perhaps not.
Science comes from the Latin word "scientia" meaning knowledge. Science as an endeavour is just the pursuit of knowledge. There are various kinds of knowledge for example:
Knowledge we gain via our everyday experience of reality.
Knowledge from example historical and literary sources.
Knowledge about the physical world gained via observation and experimentation.
Knowledge about art.
Knowledge about logic.
Knowledge about economical affairs etc.
We the try to explain all these kinds of knowledge. We intellectually and rationally analyse knowledge and then yield systematised truths about various aspects of reality and then we name it the various special and general sciences.
For example, knowledge about truths related to calculus, geometrical structures, algebra etc. we can collectively call the "mathematical sciences".
Knowledge about our social interactions with others are analysed and reasoned about and we can call it the "social sciences" e.g. economical, political, psychological etc. sciences.
Knowledge gained from the physical environment via experimentation that is intellectually analysed to yield certain truths about the physical world can be called the empirical physical sciences e.g. physics, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, chemistry etc.
Philosophy is a general science and its main aim is to answer deeper and more extensive questions and in order to do so, rational enquiry and reasoning need to be employed to understand the more ultimate reasons and causes of things. Logic, as a general science, is a more practical philosophical science. Metaphysics as a science in turn is concerned with real being and its attributes.
In casual conversations the term "science" is usually used to refer solely to the empirical physical sciences. One can of course argue that we are all in the pursuit of knowledge and thus all scientists in a trivially true sense. We are not all empirical physical scientists or social scientists or metaphysicians or logicians. However, if we are to be intellectually honest scientists (in the trivially true sense) and we really are in the pursuit of knowledge we should be informed about the findings of the special sciences such as the empirical physical sciences, the social sciences and the mathematical sciences and be free to gain insights from the more general sciences such as logic, philosophy and metaphysics. The claim that the empirical physical sciences are the only sciences that can increase our knowledge (modern scientism) is simply untenable.
There are certain things that simply cannot be determined via the empirical physical sciences (I would argue). Examples include the existence of objective morality, whether Paris Hilton has taste, the existence of the soul, God, free will etc. So where does Intelligent Design fit in?
Where does Intelligent Design fit in?
Intelligent Design is defined as (intelligentdesign.org):
Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system's components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence. Intelligent design has applied these scientific methods to detect design in irreducibly complex biological structures, the complex and specified information content in DNA, the life-sustaining physical architecture of the universe, and the geologically rapid origin of biological diversity in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion approximately 530 million years ago.
From uncommondescent (citing intelligent design.org):
The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.
In a broader sense, Intelligent Design is simply the science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. Design detection is used in a number of scientific fields, including anthropology, forensic sciences that seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). An inference that certain biological information may be the product of an intelligent cause can be tested or evaluated in the same manner as scientists daily test for design in other sciences.
ID is controversial because of the implications of its evidence, rather than the significant weight of its evidence. ID proponents believe science should be conducted objectively, without regard to the implications of its findings. This is particularly necessary in origins science because of its historical (and thus very subjective) nature, and because it is a science that unavoidably impacts religion.
Positive evidence of design in living systems consists of the semantic, meaningful or functional nature of biological information, the lack of any known law that can explain the sequence of symbols that carry the “messages,” and statistical and experimental evidence that tends to rule out chance as a plausible explanation. Other evidence challenges the adequacy of natural or material causes to explain both the origin and diversity of life.
An agreement on definitions for the following terms is needed:
A) Intelligent and intelligence (there is no agreed upon definition for this term)
C) Natural selection
E) Natural law
Obviously Intelligent Design is relevant where an intelligent cause needs to be detected for example (as stated): "anthropology, forensic sciences that seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI)".
ID can be an empirical physical science and can get you to an intelligent cause. What assumptions can be made about this "intelligent cause"?
Over at uncommondescent vjtorley makes five assumptions about the designer based on the fine-tuning argument:
1. The Designer is an Intelligent First Cause. Specifically:
(a) the Designer is a Being Who can be meaningfully said to know, to understand, to want, to intend, to choose, and to act intelligently – i.e. to act in a certain way in order to achieve the ends that He wants;
(b) the Designer is the Cause of space and time, and of the laws and principles underlying our universe.
2. The Designer is a Master Mathematician, who understands the laws and underlying principles of this universe, as well as the laws and underlying principles of other possible universes that He could have made.
3. Mathematical laws are part of the “warp and woof” of physical entities. If there were no laws, there would be no physical entities.
4. The Designer made this universe because He wanted to make a universe whose laws are ideal for living things in general, and especially for intelligent life.
5. The Designer is reliably capable of making a universe with the laws He wants it to have.
In the case of biology the intelligent causes can be said to cause "irreducibly complex" structures with large amounts of "specified complexity".
Supporters of ID make it also very clear that ID does not posit a supernatural designer (for example here).
Now the question is, can ID and ID supporters ever conclude or prove that ANY of their discovered intelligent causes is actually God? Or can it only ever claim it to be just another intelligent cause among other intelligent causes in the universe or multiverse?
It appears to me that ID can only ever discover intelligent causes that are "tinkerers". For example some clever intelligent cause that tinkered with the genome of some ancient species, or tinkers with other causes to make "irreducibly complex" structures with large amounts of "specified complexity", or perhaps a master mathematician tinkerer that is the per accidens first cause of a universe (which happens to be ours) that played a little bit with a few constants for some purpose.
I think an argument can be made that the empirical discoveries of ID can in principle never be used to prove that any of the discovered intelligent causes actually is God and not just intelligent causes other than God.