I like to define biology as the history of the earth and all its life — past, present, and future. To understand biology is to understand that all life is linked to the earth from which it came; it is to understand that the stream of life, flowing out of the dim past into the uncertain future, is in reality a unified force, though composed of an infinite number and variety of separate lives.
Rachel Carson Preface to Humane Biology Projects (1961) by the Animal Welfare Institute
The ultimate aim of the modern movement in biology is in fact to explain all biology in terms of physics and chemistry.
What is found in biology is mechanisms, mechanisms built with chemical components and that are often modified by other, later, mechanisms added to the earlier ones. While Occam's razor is a useful tool in the physical sciences, it can be a very dangerous implement in biology.
Seen in the light of evolution, biology is, perhaps, intellectually the most satisfying and inspiring science. Without that light it becomes a pile of sundry facts -- some of them interesting or curious but making no meaningful picture as a whole.
Biology is not physics, because organisms are such complex physical objects, and sociology is not biology because human societies are made by self-conscious organisms. By pretending to a kind of knowledge that it cannot achieve, social science can only engender the scorn of natural scientists and the cynicism of the humanists.
Richard Lewontin (1995) "Sex, Lies, and Social Science" in New York Review of Books (4/20/95)
Despite the beliefs and teachings of religion and psychology, impulses are biological and psychic directional signals to nudge the individual toward his or her greatest opportunities for expression and development privately, and also to insure the person's contribution to mass social reality.
When you study science, and especially these realms of the biology of what makes us human, what's clear is that every time you find out something, that brings up ten new questions, and half of those are better questions than you started with.
Today, the central and still fascinating questions for biologists concern the mechanisms by which evolution occurs."
Helena Curtis and N. Sue Barnes, Biology 5th ed. 1989, Worth Publishers, p. 972
Any competent biologist is aware of a multitude of problems yet unresolved and of questions yet unanswered. After all, biologic research shows no sign of approaching completion; quite the opposite is true. Disagreements and clashes of opinion are rife among biologists, as they should be in a living and growing science. Antievolutionists mistake, or pretend to mistake, these disagreements as indications of dubiousness of the entire doctrine of evolution. Their favorite sport is stringing together quotations, carefully and sometimes expertly taken out of context, to show that nothing is really established or agreed upon among evolutionists. Some of my colleagues and myself have been amused and amazed to read ourselves quoted in a way showing that we are really antievolutionists under the skin.
More attention to the History of Science is needed, as much by scientists as by historians, and especially by biologists, and this should mean a deliberate attempt to understand the thoughts of the great masters of the past, to see in what circumstances or intellectual milieu their ideas were formed, where they took the wrong turning or stopped short on the right track.
Ronald Fisher 1959 "Natural selection from the genetical standpoint". Australian Journal of Science 22, 16-17, .
No biologist today would think of submitting a paper entitled "New evidence for evolution;" it simply has not been an issue for a century.
Complexity has always been difficult to resolve and to understand. Evolutionary biologists were among the first scientists to recognize this problem, when they dug their way toward new theories about evolution. They discovered that matter does not lack purpose.
L.K. Samuels,In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, Cobden Press (2013) p. 129.
Posing questions about the living world and seeking answers through scientific inquiry are the central activities of biology, the scientific study of life. Biologists’ questions can be ambitious.
Jane B. Reece, Lisa A. Urry, et al. Campbell Biology (10th ed., 2014), Ch. 1. Evolution, the Themes of Biology, and Scientific Inquiry
What good men most biologists are, the tenors of the scientific world — temperamental, moody, lecherous, loud-laughing, and healthy. Your true biologist will sing you a song as loud and off-key as will a blacksmith, for he knows that morals are too often diagnostic of prostatitis and stomach ulcers. Sometimes he may proliferate a little too much in all directions, but he is as easy to kill as any other organism, and meanwhile he is very good company, and at least he does not confuse a low hormone productivity with moral ethics.
When he meets a simple geometrical construction, for instance in the honeycomb, he would fain refer it to physical instinct, or to skill and ingenuity, rather than to the operation of physical forces or mathematical laws; when he sees in a snail, or nautilus, or tiny foraminiferal or radiolarian shell a close approach to sphere or spiral, he is prone of old habit to believe that after all it is something more than a spiral or a sphere, and that in this "something more" there lies what neither mathematics nor physics can explain. In short, he is deeply reluctant to compare the living with the dead, or to explain by geometry or by mechanics the things which have their part in the mystery of life.