About the Dawkins-Pell debate: Pell did not deny that evolution happens. As I understand it he objected to the mechanism of change proposed by Charles Darwin. So it was rather confusing when Richard Dawkins argued for non-random selection. To Pell that meant design (or purpose). This assumption wasn’t based on a religious belief. Evolution has been accepted since ancient times, but the theory of natural selection is unique in its complete denial of teleological explanations and its insistence on a purely mechanistic process.
Evolution by natural selection is a purely mechanistic theory of change that does not appeal to any sense of purpose or a designer. There is no foresight or purpose in nature, and there is no implication that one species is more perfect than another.