Let’s stipulate arguendo that ID is any argument that claims that to discover by way of empirical science that some feature of the world is fashioned by God intervening in an already created natural world.
Now revelation is also an act of God intervening in the already created natural world, but there is one important difference between it an ID: Revelation is given immediately to some person who is called to give testimony to it. We can go further than this: revelation requires that God manifest his activity to us and ID requires that he hide his activity from us (we don’t have scientific conclusions about manifest things). How significant is this difference?
My suspicion is that this difference is significant and that it creates problems for those who argue from the existence of divine interventions in salvation history to the fittingness of divine interventions in natural history. Obviously, I can’t argue that it’s impossible for God to intervene in natural history if I admit he intervenes in salvation history. The argument has to be put in terms of something else: either that it is unfitting or somehow contrary to revelation. All my arguments are rough sketches but I’m confident that they at least point towards an argument worth taking seriously. The thesis I’m interested in defending is that it is reasonable to assume that divine interventions in the world are limited to salvation history and excluded from natural history.
It seems necessary that the act of intervention be something of a higher order than the mere act of creation, and intervention in creation is not such a thing. God can presumably create the world either with all it needs to do its work or not, and intervention requires him to make the second sort of world. But what sort of artisan has ever acted in such a way? Newton thought, for example, that God had to specially intervene in the world to keep it from collapsing from its own gravitation. But this makes the world a ridiculous and ill-designed thing- it is something like a tent with a central pole you have to continually hold up after you first put it in place. Intervention in natural history, unlike intervention in salvation history, seems to cast aspersions on God’s skill as an intelligent artisan and creator. But revelation is not a secondary modification of the natural world that makes up for its inability to bring things forth. Revelation can come to a world that is of itself a closed system, that is, a system with all the powers it needs to account for its natural history, because revelation is not something in this natural history. Christ’s feeding of the multitude is not supposed to fill out a deficiency in nature or account for some natural phenomenon, but to immediately manifest to human consciousness an order of grace that transcends nature.
Again, such special intervention in nature seems contrary to the purpose of making human minds. If special intervention is necessary to explain natural things, natural science does not explain the origins of natural things any more than it explains the origins of airplanes or computers. But knowing the world by way of science seems to be one of the reasons human beings exist. Seen from this angle, special intervention in natural history seems like a sort of deception.
Last, there seems to be something necessary about divine interventions in history being manifest. Here I’m thinking of Christ’s words to Caiaphas: I have spoken openly before the world; my teaching has been given in the synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews forgather; nothing that I have said was said in secret. I’m thinking also of the various gnostic gospels which seem to be ruled out of the canon in part because they speak of Christ doing private miracles that were separated from his public mission, say, as a child for other kids. But the “hidden miracles” of God secretly tinkering with protein molecules seem to be this sort of thing.