A few months back, Simon Conway Morris wrote:
Indeed it is now legitimate to talk of a logic to biology, not a term you will hear on the lips of many neo-Darwinians. Nevertheless, evolution is evidently following more fundamental rules. Scientific certainly, but ones that transcend Darwinism. What! Darwinism not a total explanation? Why should it be? It is after all only a mechanism, but if evolution is predictive, indeed possesses a logic, then evidently it is being governed by deeper principles. Come to think about it so are all sciences; why should Darwinism be any exception?
The non-teleological view of evolution is that it is not really a biological process itself, but instead is the consequence of many smaller biological processes. Evolution is something that just happens and its mechanisms are brute givens. But a teleological view of evolution likens it to a biotic process, roughly analogous to ontogeny. There is a form and logic to evolution. One might even say that evolution is a function or a program.
So is evolution really nothing more than the by-product of messy molecular interactions? Or is it far more sophisticated, itself being somehow shaped by design? What I can say is this. Over a decade ago, biologist Bruce Alberts had this to say about the cell and its contents: “But, as it turns out, we can walk and we can talk because the chemistry that makes life possible is much more elaborate and sophisticated than anything we students had ever considered.” Some time in the future, another leading scientist will write something like this: “But, as it turns out, we exist because evolution has been much more elaborate and sophisticated than anything we students had ever considered.” And that day is getting closer.