peacefulpeat good to see you. I can understand the point of view that says Simon Conway Morris is rigorous in his science but wishy washy in his beliefs. This is a typical materialist interpretation of how an otherwise intelligent and reflective individual can nevertheless question the materialist orthodoxy.
The other option, of course, is to consider that the materialist orthodoxy is not as secure as often assumed. Materialist accounts of reality involve a whole number of assumptions that cannot be proved. Take for example your statement that “consciousness may be little more than an illusion”. This is the sort of statement that materialists must make in order to uphold the materialist worldview, but which unfortunately makes no sense whatsoever. If consciousness is an “illusion”, then who exactly is subject to this illusion? I need to have consciousness in order to be subject to an illusion in the first place. If I have consciousness then I can have illusions about lots of things, but having an illusion about having a consciousness in the first place isn’t one of them. If anything, as empicricists we should be more certain about the existence of consciousness than about the material world, because we experience consciousness directly, and the material world only indirectly. If you need to insist consciousness is an illusion you might as well say “fairies only exist if you don’t capture or photograph them”. Again, why does materialism need to resort to such strange assertions? Because it is an ideological position, and not a very rational or empirically secure one at that.
How does materialism end up making such daft claims as “consciousness is an illusion”? It’s because materialists are very committed to the idea that nothing except matter and material causes exist, therefore everything else must be explained away, including the human mind itself. What an extraordinary position to get yourself into, where you can insists that you yourself do not really exist, but are a figment of your own(?) imagination. If anyone doubts that materialism is subject to its own set of irrationalities then they need to contemplate this odd predicament of materialism further.
So I am not convinced by your attempt to compartmentalise Simon Conway Morris as good at science and fuzzy on beliefs. In fact he is incredibly reflective on all these issues, and brings rigour in questioning materialism just as he does to his science, while leaving open the possibility of being wrong. Here are some responses where he tackles issues such as human intelligence, convergence, neo-Darwinism, Christianity, miracles, creationism, and the problem of evil.
“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”