Is it possible to define the source of intelligent causes, which provides the foundation for the Intelligent Design theory, from a purely scientific perspective? Is yes, How? If not, why not?
I think it will be easier to determine the answer to your question, if we make the question a bit clearer. It seems that your question can be more simply reformulated as:
You have defined intelligent design as a property of a universe in a state that was caused by a directed process. You used the term "intelligent cause", which is a bit redundant, but the contrast to "an undirected process, such as natural selection" elucidates the definition. So, we can again reformulate the question as:
- Is belief in religious dogma a necessary consequence of belief that the state of the universe was caused by a directed process?
I think we can summarize the belief in religiously-dogmatic cosmology, as a "belief that the state of the universe was caused by God". So, our next reformulation is:
- Is a belief that the state of the universe was caused by God a necessary consequence of a belief that the state of the universe was caused by a directed process?
If God is the only possible directed process, then the answer to the question is Yes. If God is not the only possible directed process, then the directed process that caused the state of the universe could be God or it could be the other thing(s), so the answer to the question is No. So, you're question can be further reduced to:
- Is God the only possible directed process that could cause the state of the universe?
I can conceive of directed processes that could cause the state of the universe, that are as plausible as a dogmatic, religious God, so I tend to think the answer to your question is that Intelligent design does not require religion.
Consider a computer chess game. It executes particular processes (moves) in a directed manner (directed towards winning the chess game). I don't think that the computer game is a God, (nor the computer programmer), but it is certainly creating a directed process. This occurs in the physical world, due to a specific configuration of matter that forces electric signals to execute within the parameters of a defined algorithm.
Given that if there is something, it must be somewhere, it is certainly conceivable that when whatever was here before what is here now was here, it was aligned in such a way that some impulse could cause it to emit a "directed process". This is analogous to a mouse click in the universe of the computer running the chess program. This vague example at least gives an example of what a "non-religious" explanation for intelligent design would look like.
One potential counterargument that I anticipate, would be the contention, that any such impulse or configuration of matter is itself God. But, in order for that argument to hold, the objector would have to start a religion that defines God as such and cultivate a following that accepts it as religious dogma.
Intelligent design does not need religion.
Consider this: evolutionary algorithms are a field of artificial intelligence. Thus, it is not unreasonable to argue that the "original evolutionary algorithm" (assuming that we're not in a simulation) is also an intelligent cause. The question then becomes, given that our presence is the result of "intelligent" causes, are those causes conscious? I would posit that question is a much harder one to answer.
Any theory that tries to address the source of the intelligent cause must be falsifiable, à la Karl Popper. I would say that, yes, it is possible to create such a theory, but that so far all attempts to do so have failed, either because they were not falsifiable, or because they were, and were shown to be wrong (consider the most recent apocalypse predictions, which were falsifiable).
Edit to add some shameless self-promotion for my Genetic Algorithm and Neural Network repositories. This code is still "research grade" meaning it'll require a few tweaks to run on your system, but anyone with a half-decent knowledge of Java and C++ should have no problems with those tweaks.
Too long for a comment:
I think at the heart of this question is the common belief that religion and science are diametrically opposed. But I would also say this is a misnomer - the real key is that they do not cover the same material. It is possible for the concept usually described by the vastly unspecific and overgeneralized word "science" to address religious issues - though it's unlikely. In particular, if a god or gods were to appear, demonstrate their powers, and the like, then it is not the case that the scientific community would still refute this.
In some freshman physics class I took in college, I remember there being a student who had a really hard time separating the concept of theory and fact. Really, he had a hard time acknowledging that 'science' was not based on facts, but on approximated theories founded upon approximate observations - they can compete, multiple theories can both be brought forward, etc.
What I'm getting at is that the idea of a 'scientific perspective' seems poorly defined. If you mean from the perspective of coming up with ideas and subjecting them to the test of being compared with observation and logic, then that's one thing. If you mean describe the sort of deity-like perhaps-sentient Designer(s) with a set of rules governing behavior, or to mathematically demonstrate sort of property, or to see what would happen if we shot two of such creators at each other (as I continue to poke at my physics buddies) - that's another thing.
Further, it's not so clear what you mean by intelligent design, or even intelligence? Could you clarify, especially on what sort of characterization of this 'intelligence' that you mean?
It is ultimately a question of definitions.
Intelligent design claims that life is created by some sort of intelligence. Most people would call an intelligence that has the capacity to do something like that a "God", but that is a question of definition. You could reasonably say that "God" would only apply to the creator of the universe, and the intelligence that designed life does not need to be the same. God could for example delegate it to a sub-god, what in Christianity is called "Angels". But then it still needs God.
A God would only not be needed if there is no God that created the universe, but life then was created by some non-supernatural, but non-living being. This is nearly impossible to imagine, and I would think most people would agree to call an non-living (possibly eternal) and powerful intelligence a "God", even if it isn't a God over all of creation.
Does then God need religion? Well, depends on your definition of religion. Many would say that any belief in a God constitutes a religion. But if God was proven to exist, we wouldn't believe, we would know, and it would not be religion, but as long as God was unproven, it would be religion. I'm in the camp of "religion" meaning that you rely on faith even when faith contradicts logic and/or facts.
Does then Intelligent Design need religion?
Well, it needs religion as long as God hasn't been shown to exist, as it then relies entirely on faith, in the face of facts and better explanations (evolution). But if God does exist, it doesn't need religion, it only needs somebody to prove God (good luck!)
Basically you can say that Intelligent Design stops needing religion once it's proven that God exists and designed life. Up until then, it needs it.
So Yes, Intelligent Design needs religion with common definitions of the words. It needs it to be believed in, to exist if you want. But there are no generally accepted definition of religion/God so it all depends. :-)
(Update: Note that having believers to not mean it becomes more correct. This is self-evident, but Chad has now several times accused me of saying this, which I of course do not say at all.)
I can imagine a scenario where a single all powerful god create the universe that we know of. That god does not seek to be venerated, nor that we follow any moral principles he has set out. The universe was created and designed intelligently. This was prior to any religion being created.
In addition I can concieve of a scenerio where the god does seek to be venerated but his creations choose to use that veneration as a means to manipulate and gain wealth and power themselves.
In both of these scenerios Intelligent design happens but religion is not necessitated.
No it does not need it.
It is the same idea as what Aristotle called the unmoved mover. Aristotle just like most ID proponents ascribe no cultist aspect to Intelligent Design. Most ID proponents just try to explain the irreducibly complex systems in nature and the apparent design that universe show and posit that the veracity of the claim that it could all arise from nothing than more random chance is unreasonable and that you need a intelligent designer as a cause.
As Occam's Razor suggest the simplest solution is often the best. Biological systems show design then it is probably designed.