The development of evolutionary theory has been moving steadily in the direction of teleology. That is, what was to Darwin a random and unguided process became first a driven process and then an intelligent process.
Darwin began with a creature’s desire to survive and built upon that the idea of changing features which would enhance the probability of survival. His successors and critics saw something else. The ideas proposed by Mendel took things a different direction. It was genes which produced features, not behavior. Dominant and recessive traits were more important than actions.
The next step was to blend these two – a synthesis of what was known to be true by experiment (Mendelian genetics) and what was assumed to be true (Darwin’s common descent by means of natural selection). Now we have taken the step from an unguided system to a driven system. Evolution it seems does not proceed without the content of DNA to set the course. At this point questions arose about DNA and related genetic systems. Genetics may drive life but what drives genetics? What sets the course for progress in life?
Some corollary questions also arose regarding development. Was there enough time for all of this to happen (Polkinghorn)? Are not these things too complex to have occurred naturally (Behe/Dembski)? Why are evolutionists only accounting for physical entities and ignoring the mind (Nagel/Fodor)? Could it be that given so many unanswered and unanswerable questions that, just perhaps, Darwin really did get it all wrong?
Now we are at a third stage in evolutionary theory. James Shapiro has proposed that the information in our genes comprises a level of intelligence. DNA is not cognizant of the direction that it will take, or so it appears. This idea dovetails with Wolfram’s mathematically-driven development ideas. The complexities it appears draw their own course and this can be accounted for mathematically. It might be thought of as a new kind of teleology. Perhaps this third stage we might call neo-neo-Darwinism. It seems the theory develops further and further away from Darwin’s ideas at each stage.
There is this principle that we never really think new thoughts. That is, we are driven by the culture around us (Feyerabend) and by our internal proclivities (VanTil). So I wonder if the cognitive view of Shapiro bears some indirect relationship to the, for lack of a better term, imputed cognition of ID (Dembski). Concerns about intelligence appear to be the pretext of the last three decades. (At this point the materialistic descriptions of mind have failed miserably.) I would at least appear even to the well-read scientists that something is going on in the minds of these people that are tending toward another synthesis, a cognitive synthesis.