As I am not getting a response the the deeper issues in evolutionary theory it would take a lot of work to make all the connections to content in your post here. I would like to comment on you having said,
how do you know that life arose only once or literally millions of times potentially separated by billions or millions of years?
To be polite to chair sitting evolutionists I would say it is curious, or rather I should actually say I find it inverted, that a good biologist and historian, Will Provine, finds nonething unusual here being perfectly content that he may never know the answer to this question. Oddly, he also has no problem arguing that there is no purpose in evolution and no free will generally, at the same time.
I find that Wright's distinction of internal(intrademic) selective value or external(interdemic) selective value to only be subsumed within Kant's larger sense of intension and extension etc. but Will being perfectly OK with not being able to decide how many origins up through the cell occurred ,does not work out the trajectory of these insides and outsides REGARDLESS OF THE EXTERNAL PRACTICAL REASON feeling free to debit lateral gene transfer as his excuse for not using the philosphy itself.
Now...if he did not have such strong feelings about ethics and biology then... perhaps I would not find this( possible influence of sociolobiology) strange. And if one listens closely to what he is saying (he explained this twice to(wards) me in the past 3 years) one can gather or prima facie
suspect MORE confidence in his assertions on morality than biology, very very odd indeed.
I can not say whether the notion of upward vs downward causation plays out better for baramins or simply indicates that a better theoretical ability is needed among biologists in the process of understanding evolution as taught or being guided by God (perhaps only in our minds so far). At issue is probably a better working out of arugements around species selection vs sorting. I do not know for sure how one is supposed to understand a baramin given sorting, but then there may be reasons against sorting if it is just to make a higer level selection seem affected (this can happen if there is not a reciprocal relation of cause and effect as Kant reflected on in the Critique of Judgment). Unfortunately people who are really smart/logical and Christian, Ravi Zacharrias, for instance, still finds Kant contrary to his needs. It seems that neither the evos can work out the independence relations nor the Christians show how philosophy can change the classical scholarship going for elite in the schools.