I have a theory based on a number of observations and I want to give it a name. My observations are that there are things that lifeforms do to their environments that leave traces that wouldn’t otherwise naturally occur. I propose that we might be able to detect similar effects on other planets and deduce that there are lifeforms at work and that we might, if we are careful and/or very lucky, find evidence of previously unknown lifeforms here on our planet.
I’ve come up with a name for this theory. I’m calling it Intelligent Design.
We can define what ID is and what it isn’t. We can come up with ways we can test hypotheses. If we find evidence that points towards (or away from) an example of intelligent design we can publish papers in reputable scientific journals. When we find gaps in scientific knowledge in other areas we won’t even think about using this as an argument for Intelligent Design – we’ll have to come up with evidence that points toward our theories and not just away from others.
Unfortunately there are some people who are currently misusing the label of Intelligent Design and they will have to go back to using the old term for their beliefs: creationism. If they have some useful contributions to make they’re more than welcome to join in as they are for any of the other sciences but, just like in the other sciences, they are going to have to leave their non-science behind at the door.
Right, now that that’s dealt with. Onwards and upwards!
[edit: Over at NeuroLogicia, Dr Steven Novella clearly hasn't been informed of the recent changes I've made to the term 'Intelligent Design' but he provides a fairly lucid account of why the proponents of the old term weren't being particularly scientific in their approach that's well worth a read.]