Gould was a scientist who was quite familiar with history in biological science. History was his major sideline. He was also deeply involved in exchanges with creationists. Ultimately, theories he worked on like punctuated equilibrium whither or are judged fruitful in science independent of his theological beliefs. We need to recognize that while he deployed some theological assumptions in his writings, he also wrote a lot that didn’t reference the subject.
Jerry Coyne is a scientist who dabbles in theology and philosophy. He also is stridently non-theist. Often he mixes them with bad results. But again, whether his scientific work is ultimately judged fruitful is largely independent on his theological position.
Over my career, I’ve found that asking “How would God have done this?” or “How would God not done this?” to be pretty useless in hypothesis generation. Useful for discussing theology, perhaps, but it hasn’t been helpful for me in science. Among most scientists I’ve worked with over the years, the same could be generally said of them. If anyone has a good idea about God in understanding cancer progression and acquisition of resistance to drugs, please drop me a note. There are a large number of Christians working in Oncology but being naturally disposed to theological possibilities doesn’t provide much insight into the nature of aberrant cell reproduction. As in most areas, including evolutionary biology, it doesn’t really help.
I wonder that if there wasn’t continuous confrontation from Creationists who felt evolutionary biology was an assault on Christianity, then people like Coyne or Gould wouldn’t have invoked theological assumptions. Certainly, the phenomenon has fed on itself in a self-perpetuating cycle. At least among those bothered by it. (Reality check: I suspect most scientists don’t give a hoot and would rather work unbothered by religious/political posturing). If sociology weren’t such a dismal science I’d suggest they study that dynamic as a research project.
Returning to @swamidass’s comment, where does that leave us with regard to Neutral theory? Fully encrusted in religious dogma, non-intersecting with Christian theology, or something in between? Is Christian Neutral Theory distinct from common ‘Neutral Theory’?
Aside: Why do physicists get off scott-free in that exchange? :^)
Ask them about our understanding of relativity, quantum mechanics and the origin of the universe. Or consider when they found the age of the Earth extended millions and billions of years into the past, or that the Earth and planets orbited the sun. There was theologically-driven push-back on that work that the scientists at the time referenced.