Here's is what it comes down to, as I see it:
- Daniel Dennett conceded nothing during his interview with Robert Wright, and he has not changed his views in any way regarding the existence of a “higher purpose” to evolution.
- Wright's argument in this regard, briefly, is that there is a strong analogy between the processes of embryonic development and the process of evolution by natural selection. Just as the processes of development require a design explanation, so too does the process of evolution by natural selection.
- Wright's belief that Dennett was agreeing to this argument was based on some ambiguity (and some wishful thinking) during the original interview. Dennett agreed only to some superficial similarities between development and evolution, while Wright interpreted this to mean that Dennett was granting his argument.
- Wright's original article implies that atheists should be disappointed by things Dennett had said during the interview. This implication was entirely unjustified by anything Dennett had said, even given Wright's misinterpretation of Dennett's intentions. Ditto for the tone of smug triumphalism Wright employed in that article.
- Both his original article and his subsequent reply have given readers a false impression of Daniel Dennett's opinions on this matter. Wright should say this unambiguously. I don't believe Wright intended to misrepresent Dennett's views, but the fact remains that he did so and needs to come clean about it.
- Wright's argument fails because the analogy between development and evolution is too weak to sustain the conclusions he is drawing.