Creationists view Evolutionary Theory to be the by-product of atheism, but it has always intrigued me that there were deeply religious and non-atheistic individuals who were great contributors to evolutionary theory such as RA Fisher.
It’s not clear to me if Sewall Wright is an atheist, but he had an interesting philosophical viewpoint.
I stumbled on this 2008 paper
when I was reading up on Genetic Drift which is, to my surprise, connected to Sewall Wright, not just Kimura.
The paper challenges Will Provine’s view that Wright was not influenced by philsophy.
From the paper:
Taking Pearson’s argument for a single ‘‘mental construct’’ to a whole new level, Wright deduced a world filled with vast levels of consciousness, each an organismic unity emerging from a less organized, less tightly-knit group of minds.
[Wright writes]‘‘We must postulate common consciousness as arising from interactions
among elementary physical entities within an atom, or among atoms and
electrons within a molecule, or among molecules within a living cell as
well as among cells within a multicellular organism in carrying through
the concept of [psycho-physical] identism. We should again recognize
that the external aspect of a stream of consciousness is not matter defined
by mass and occupancy of space so much as by the association of action
[energy]. We must suppose that wherever there is physical action, this is the external aspect of at least a flicker of consciousness.’’47
Wright did not yet have a platform for expressing these ideas at the end of his Harvard days or directly thereafter, at the USDA in Washington from 1915 to 1925. Finishing a thesis, securing a job, and managing the transition all took priority. With the exception of a few published book reviews, however, Wright kept mum on his philosophy even into the 1920s, 30 s, and 40 s, reserving publication on his full metaphysics until after he had established himself in quantitative genetics and evolutionary biology.
As a philosopher, Wright felt convinced that these tightly knit systems of complex activity represented other minds in nature, located on hierarchic levels according to their degrees of conscious sophistication. Genes were no doubt one example of consciousness in nature
Biographer William Provine believed that Wright always followed a clean-cut delineation between his philosophic and scientific pursuits. The two other historians who have looked at Wright’s philosophy, M.J.S. Hodge (1992) and Michael Ruse (2004), have contradicted
Provine’s account by showing that there was a definite carryover of concept from Wright’s philosophy to Wright’s work in genetics and evolution. Hodge linked Wright’s monistic panpsychism with his emphasis on chance indeterminism in genetics and evolutionary biology. Ruse linked Wright’s organicism with his emphasis on systems of
dynamic equilibrium in his ‘‘shifting balance’’ theory of evolution.