The project to try and banish teleology by mechanistic-cum-empiricist interpretations of physical science looks like…well, still a project. People have been and still are trying and trying to explain it away and some even call it "science". Yet, no matter how hard people try, teleology is still “grinning residually up at us like the frog at the bottom of the beer mug”. Never mind the ironic fact that trying to explain away teleology is a teleological, goal-directed enterprise in itself.
The Scholastic view of empirical experimental science is that it is in the business of discovering the nature or essence of substances and the active (and passive as described here) causal powers inherent in them. Causal powers of course point beyond themselves towards some end, their final cause[s]. So one can say that empirical experimental science is a goal-directed endeavor chasing after the essence or nature of things and their inherent active and passive causal powers. From this point of view there is no need to go look for it with empirical tests. Final causality, natural ends, dispositions, potencies, active and passive powers. etc. all are just features and facts of reality. Grinning frogs everywhere, Mike Gene would of course prefer rabbits .
So what is preventing people from accepting a thoroughgoing teleological and essentialist view of reality? There isn't anything from the empirical experimental sciences (EES) to suggest that we need to abandon it or that it is "unscientific". In fact, the natural end of EES itself is goal-directed towards increasing our knowledge of reality. What prevents people from dropping the non-teleological-cum-mechanistic-cum-materialist view of reality?
Special pleading? Ideology? Ignorance of an alternative? False and misleading caricatures? Fear? Perhaps something else?