The Intelligent Design (ID) movement is seriously stalled at the moment, primarily (in my opinion) because it is concerned with the wrong question. ID science is currently, for the most part, solely transfixed on debating origins with natural evolutionists. Such a debate cannot be won however - since anything can be argued to have been the result of natural forces. No matter the complexity of organization, it can always be argued that some natural process, somewhere, could theoretically produce such a thing.
Why then, when all ID scientists are agreed that nature is the product of a rational mind, continue to debate that point anymore? Why not move on from that point and start exploring the implications of such a position? Why not acknowledge the obvious and begin to see ID as an extension of theology? I think it's time to begin WORKING from the ID assumption.
Let me use an example to illustrate my point:
Lets say that we discover the ruins of an ancient civilization on Mars. Would we waste a lot of time debating whether each individual structure or artifact was "intelligently designed" or not? Of course not, that would be self-intuitive. Such a conclusion would be assumed (the threshold would be pretty low actually), and we'd move on from there. The totality of empirical research into such a finding would be based on gleaning, from the artifacts themselves, clues about the civilization that produced them. We'd want to know who they were. What were they like? Did they think like us? What were their manufacturing processes? What was their level of technology, knowledge, and the like? No one would waste time trying to debate intelligent design.
Isn't this - as such questions relate to God - the essence of theology? Shouldn't believing scientists be trying to answer these, and the thousands of other questions that can be asked about God? Perhaps it's time for the ID scientists to come out of hiding, quit pretending they're not religious, break camp, move down the hall (or across town to the religious college or seminary) and settle into the Theology department.
I envision a kind of "Empirical Theology", a continuation of Paley's Natural Theology. By leaving behind mainstream science and moving into the realm of theology, ID sheds the weight of conformation to materialist methodology and can freely and openly explore all areas of scientific inquiry within a theological/teleological framework. Papers can be published in theological journals. New journals could be established. Textbooks could be written: "The Mind and Methods of God - as Revealed in the Natural World", "The Biochemistry of God - by Michael Behe", "God's Mathematics" - by William Dembski" - and so on. An entire scientific counterculture could be created. Nature could be studied to glean from it the workings of an omniscient mind. From a practical standpoint, working from a view of "life as technology", this counterculture of religious scientists could produce research useful to all walks of life. The implications for the fields of design, engineering, chemistry, physics, art, (the list can go on for as long as we can continue to think of categories), could be phenomenal. From a theological standpoint, religions could be viewed as "hypotheses to be empirically verified". Belief systems could be studied to see if their tenets coincide with the evidence of the natural world.
I'll give one short real-world example - photorespiration:
Plants, as we all know, take in CO2 and release O2 during photosynthesis, but there is a competing system lying just beneath the surface that also uses the same mechanisms to take in O2 and release CO2. That system is called "photorespiration" and it competes for the same resources as photosynthesis. Fortunately its reactions are chemically unfavorable in comparison and photosynthesis wins out (most of the time anyway). Natural science has no good explanation for why such a system - which takes resources away from a beneficial system - evolved or why it is retained, but a theological scientist could theorize that such a system is a leftover from a time when there were only plants on Earth, and that it is retained as a backup system, in the case of a future drastic increase in O2 levels in the atmosphere. Experiments could be done based on that theological hypothesis and real-world results could help farmers and botanists around the world with their work.
That's just one example.
Currently the ID movement is stuck at the starting gate, pinned down on the beach - still debating whether or not life could be the result of intelligent design. I think it's time to move on. The truth of intelligent design is self-evident. So how about it IDers? Is it time to throw off the cloak of mainstream science? It could be a liberating experience!