Biology Cell biology Intelligent Design Philosophy

Is today’s biology missing a Big Idea?

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From an online book in progress by Stephen L. Talbott tentatively titled “Evolution As It Was Meant To Be — And the Living Narratives That Tell Its Story” (Overview) at the Nature Institute:

Every organism is an entity in which certain ideas and intentions are manifest — observably expressed and realized. We have to be willing to say, as everyone does say, “This cell is preparing to divide.” We would never say (as I mentioned earlier), “This planet is preparing to make another circuit of the sun.” The organism obviously gives us a reality different from planets and suns. Shouldn’t this manifest difference be front and center in the biologist’s attention — all the more if there exists a prejudicial urge to approach biological explanation solely in the causal style we bring to planets and suns?

I am fully aware that what I have just said comes at the contemporary scientist from a strange and, at this point, probably objectionable, direction. But perhaps this initial statement will at least intrigue some readers. We will pursue the ideas further throughout the remainder of the book.

Stephen L. Talbott, “Biology’s Missing Ideas” at Evolution as it Was Meant to Be: A work in progress

Hat tip: Philip Cunningham

See also: What if there is no genetics apart from epigenetics? Talbott: Not that the gene sequences are themselves mutated in the usual sense. Rather, the researchers found that various epigenetic modifications in the hippocampus alter the way the genes work (Weaver et al. 2004).


Life forms have a story but rocks don’t Talbott: An animal’s end-directed activity may, of course, be very far from what we humans know as conscious aiming at a goal. But all such activity nevertheless displays certain common features distinguishing it from inanimate proceedings

5 Replies to “Is today’s biology missing a Big Idea?

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    I don’t know anything about Talbott but I don’t understand how anyone could write an article like that without mentioning ID at some point. Also, to say that evolutionary biology is “missing something” of that magnitude is a sweeping condemnation of all of the Darwinian bullies who have been claiming that there are no weaknesses in their theory, it is more certain than gravity, etc.

  2. 2
    OLV says:


    “I don’t understand how anyone could write an article like that without mentioning ID at some point.”

    They won’t mention anything they don’t want to.

    It’s a matter of will.

  3. 3
    nkendall says:

    My prediction…over the next oh…50 years or so you will see a rebirth of vitalism. Vitalism was never really discredited. It was just incompatible with materialism. I suspect that each cell has agency…a mind of sorts. It is hard to imagine that the most complex process we know–cell division–is at its core nothing but deterministic chaos as Dan Dennett would say. There has to be something more than pure mechanism.
    You see hints of it here and there such as Brian Ford, Rupert Sheldrake, Jon Leif (or Lief). Not a full embracing of the 19th century idea of elan vital but just hints. Even in some of the ideas of James Shapiro. How exactly could a cell or organism naturally engineer itself a novel adaptive feature If not for some form of true agency? Cybernetics won’t do the trick…not for complex novel features.

  4. 4
    OLV says:

    Is Biology research trying to find missing links?
    E3 Ubiquitin Ligase TRIM Proteins, Cell Cycle and Mitosis
    Santina Venuto and Giuseppe Merla
    Cells 2019, 8(5), 510;

  5. 5
    OLV says:

    Here’s an example of what serious biology research could lead to:

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