The really frustrating part was trying to figure out Shapiro's agenda. He clearly has one. Is it just that he's against "conventional evolutionary theory"—whatever that is? Or, is he laying the groundwork for introducing God and intelligent design?
Shapiro denies that he's a supporter of intelligent design yet he published several papers with Richard Sternberg, one of the darlings of Intelligent Design Creationism. Furthermore, he (Shapiro) uses many of the same anti-evolution arguments used by Intelligent Design Creationists.
This prompted Bill Dembski to accuse James Shapiro of "dancing in the DMZ between Darwin and design" [Is James Shapiro a Design Theorist?].
For proponents of intelligent design, James Shapiro's constant dancing in the DMZ between Darwin and design can be frustrating. On the one hand, Shapiro is as dismissive of Darwinism as any ID proponent. On the other, he constantly gives public notice that he is not on the side of ID. And yet, methinks he protests too much.This got a response from Shapiro that has now been posted on Evolution News & Views ["Is James Shapiro a Design Theorist?": James Shapiro Replies]. Here's what Shapiro says ...
What is wrong with "dancing in the DMZ" between intelligent design (as articulated by Michael Behe and others) and neo-Darwinism? Are these two positions the only alternatives? I doubt it. That is why my 1997 article in Boston Review on evolution debates was called "A Third Way." What Dembski calls the "DMZ" (i.e. a zone free of futile conflict) is the place where the real evolutionary science is taking place. I am proud to be there, and I see that an increasing number of people are joining me when they realize that natural genetic engineering, horizontal DNA transfer, interspecific hybridization, genome doubling and symbiogenesis provide solutions to problems recognized to be intractable under the limitations of conventional evolutionary thinking.Clear as mud. There's one thing I know for sure: horizontal DNA transfer etc. are perfectly compatible with today's evolutionary thinking. If Shapiro is wrong about this—and he is— then maybe he's also misleading us about his belief in intelligent design creationism.