So what caused the offence?That nature would have some sort of direction and purpose has a distinct air of not just “intelligent design.” He is clear that he is not invoking a god of any sort, which leaves EC out in the cold.
Several things, but consider one: the contention that evolution may tend towards consciousness. Nagel is explicit that he himself is not countenancing a designer. Rather, he wonders whether science needs to entertain the possibility that a teleological trend is immanent in nature.
There it is. The t-word – a major taboo among evolutionary biologists. Goal-directed explanations automatically question your loyalty to Darwin.
The funny thing about the criticism that I can tell is that by just suggesting that there may be a direction in nature, he is drawing evolutionary biologists into the realm of philosophy where they are not as comfortable. In that realm, there is no logical reason for arguing that nature cannot have direction and purpose. When it stays within its own realm and is properly practiced, evolutionary biology has no say in whether or not nature has direction and purpose. That is the purview of the philosophers and theologians. Nonetheless, it has been the impulse of atheists like Dawkins and Myers to cross into the realm of philosophy in evaluating the role of evolution in the world around us. Consequently, when Dawkins released The God Delusion, it was not universally well-received and many critics argued that he had overstepped his bounds.
Darwin provided a mechanism for which evolution could be understood within a naturalistic perspective. He did not, however, write anywhere that nature was inherently godless and admitted a reluctance to jettison his own beliefs in God, even if they did not take the form of Christianity. Whether or not one believes in God should have no bearing on the acceptance or rejection of evolutionary theory, nor should one's acceptance of evolutionary theory necessitate rejection of belief in God.