Alexander begins with the objection that evolution is a protected theory, and so not subject to objective criticism. Not at all, explains Alexander:
It is every biologist’s dream to make discoveries that would upset some cherished theory. If you do that then your career is made for life. If you found rabbit fossils in the pre-Cambrian era, or indubitable evidence for human dna dinosaur fossils in the same sedimentary layer, or evidence for new forms of life from the bottom of some deep ocean that displayed a different genetic code, or solid evidence for the inheritance of acquired characteristics, then your first author paper in Nature or Science is assured and you can live happily ever after.
Alexander goes on to exhort skeptics to become “a member of the scientific research community” and publish “results in peer-reviewed journals.”
This is a two-dimensional view of science. It reminds me of that seventh grade unit on how science works, which portrayed scientists as objective truth-seekers, toiling away in their white lab coats.
To be sure, scientists do toil away, and some even wear white lab coats. But this is only part of the story. Alexander seems ignorant of the realities of science that occur between the snapshots. Yes, some scientists do want to upset cherished theories, but many have no such dream. In fact science can be quite a conservative discipline. There is substantial risk in going against the accepted wisdom. More typically scientists seek new and better explanations, but within unspoken boundaries. Stray off of the playing field and you place your reputation (and funding) at risk.
One can find no better illustration of this than in one of Alexander’s own examples: the inheritance of acquired characteristics. “Solid evidence” for this phenomenon has been known for years, but evolutionists made it the third rail of the life sciences. The few scientists who dared touch it paid the price.
Alexander’s portrayal of science as easily accepting new findings—all that is needed is the evidence and a scientist to explain it—is again simplistic. The theory of evolution for example, developed by Darwin and Alfred Wallace, was not a revolutionary new idea that arose from the evidence, as evolutionists are fond of thinking. It built upon centuries of theological and philosophical thought that was increasingly influencing science. This Enlightenment influence was by no means dominant in Darwin’s day, but it was rapidly gaining among the elites in politics, culture and science. It is hardly a surprise that Darwin and Wallace concluded for transformationism even without knowing how such change could occur.
Alexander also seems to be ignorant of the many mechanisms in the culture of science that enforce conformity. He exhorts skeptics to become “a member of the scientific research community” and publish “results in peer-reviewed journals.” But there are myriad barriers that ensure skeptics are filtered out at every stage. Everything from passing grades and letters of recommendation to tenure and funding are strongly contingent on conformity. Dissenters are blacklisted so they never have a chance to raise objections.
None of this is to say science is not successful or that scientists should not receive credit for their contributions. Scientists work hard and usually do a good job. But they do not transcend politics or culture and, in fact, they have real bodies.