Aquinas vs. Intelligent Design

I read an excellent article today by Michael Tkacz in This Rock magazine. It was about the decidely lukewarm reception that Intelligent Design has received among Thomists. I was in no way surprised by this, because it is clear to me that Intelligent Design is philosophically unsophisticated, and basically I think ID has made a category mistake in their choice of arguments.

A big part of this mistake is the truncated modern notion of cause. For a Thomist, there are Aristotle's four causes, plus perhaps Plato's exemplary cause. Modern science and philosophy makes do with one or two at best, efficient and then material. Aquinas followed Aristotle in claiming that God's agency in the world is proven (and by this he meant deductively proven, with complete certainty) by the fact that the world exists, and that it functions. That it functions this way or that is irrelevant, because the universe is contingent, it could work pretty much any way it's Creator chose it to. It is that there is any order to the universe at all that points to a Creator. Thus a Thomist argument for the agency of God focuses on the existence of causality, rather than a particular thing being caused in a particular way. For ID to claim to prove (this typically being a probablistic modern type of proof) that such and such a feature of life could not have arisen without an intervention by God in the natural order could not be supported in good faith by a Thomist.

h/t Francis Beckwith