Ryan Miller at The Buckingham Inquirer raises some interesting worries about Intelligent Design arguments. I'm having trouble understanding what the argument is supposed to be, though. He says that intelligent design arguments confuse final and efficient causes. As I argued in a previous post, you can accept final causes in nature based on God's purposes without denying efficient causes that a naturalist might have accepted. I don't think it follows that a strong view of God's providence "makes no claims about efficient causes", as Ryan claims. Final causes are what things point toward, but why do they point toward them? In God's providence, Judas' betrayal of Jesus served the plan of redemption, and that doesn't require that God efficiently caused Judas' betrayal of Jesus, but it does require that God oversaw the efficient causes in a way that ensured that Judas would do it. It thus does make a claim about efficient causes. The efficient causes had to have been what they were, or the final cause never would have been realized. Whatever your view on how God ensures that final causes will be realized, you have to admit that God's provides isn't completely unrelated to efficient causes. It in fact requires God's oversight of efficient causes, including efficient causes behind the creation of human beings, however that might have come about.
I'm really having trouble with Ryan's statement that final causes must be a "fundamentally religious matter". The statement is given in support of the claim that we shouldn't be sure of any final causes (except, presumably, those we have on religious grounds that we should be sure of for entirely religious reasons). I know Aristotle wouldn't have liked that idea. He thought it was just obvious that leaves are for absorbing light and that teeth are for chewing food. Those are final causes. The efficient causes involve chemical processes that lead to the growing of teeth and leaves, and none of that requires talking about what they're for. Final causes don't seem to me to require religious talk at all, at least on the level of describing them and concluding which ones there are. Some final causes might indeed be knowable only through revelation of some sort, but that doesn't mean final causes are in principle knowable only through revelation. I'm not sure final causes make sense without God, but that doesn't mean you need specific information from God about a cause to know of a particular final cause in nature. I don't think Thomas Aquinas would have been any more friendly to Ryan's claim than Aristotle would have been, for exactly the reasons I've been explaining.