Neil Thomas, a professor and member of the British Rationalist Association, was a committed Darwinist and agnostic.
For my part, I think it’s better to approach the data without assumptions and to let the evidence speak for itself.
If lateral gene transfer is rampant throughout life, the universal tree of life becomes a matter of philosophical preference, not empirical demonstration.
Evans et al. (2021) seem to have been well aware of the circular reasoning in their argument.
Fans of H. G. Wells are probably familiar with his 1904 short story, “The Country of the Blind.”