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The Future of Biology

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Charles Darwin insisted that his aim was to "murder" God. His exploits aboard HMS Beagle had the effect of doing just that. Biology is one subject that has had an uneasy part, as some of the concepts ran against the widely accepted norms. The 20th century for a good measure, had the most profound effect on human life (Murphy, O'Neill, 1995, p.5). Apprehension and fear has also gripped the wider society driven by the accelerating public concerns on environmental impact and the ever increasing human food concerns due to the population growth. Demand in new approaches in biology was necessary to deal with the antibiotic resistance as well as emerging diseases. Today's life expectancy has reached 75 in many western societies from about 50 at the beginning of last century, Thanks to biology.


Biology is the most intensely personal of all sciences (Olson, 1989, p.1) for it deals with life's most personal events, from birth to death and disease to wellness.  But what does biological research hold for the future?  Clearly the continued accumulation of knowledge in the field of biology has led to changing of views of ourselves and the surrounding biosphere. By illuminating the close connection humans have with other living things, biology is helping to reshape the debate not only in science but in religion as well. We are also in a better position to interfere with some of the established scientific 'knowns' in biology, more often to our own advantage, and due to that, the human race is presented with more choices.


Examined closely, biology as a subject/science has three dimensions: First is the study of a particular species in all biological areas of function. The second aspect is the diversity of all species in the biosphere, and thirdly, the history of all species together with the evolutionary development plus the conditions that led to the survival tactics through natural selection. All of these three dimensions are growing towards unification as it has been doing. This means that the future of biology can be informed by the inter-disciplinary studies that provide for simplified movement across the three disciplines.


It can be said that these are exhilarating times for the discipline of biology. Over the past century, we have had extremely fruitful years in biology research. Amasing progress has been made in the understanding of cells, individual species and whole populations. Scientists have picked from where James Watson and Francis Crick left and now, we are able to understand the way information is stored in the genes. The growing consensus among various scientists on the future of biology is that there will be more integration among the various disciplines in biology. Biologists will be more interested in finding out how organisms interact; unlike in the past where biology has concerned itself more with how individual biological units are structured.  Mathematics and computer science are likely to be part in the approach to the study (gatech 2007 [online]). It will be an exciting period for all of us.




1. OLSON, S (1989). Shaping the Future: Biology and Human Values.

National Washington, D.C., Academies Press.


2. MURPHY, PM, O'NEILL, JA (1995). What is Life: The Next 50 Years.

Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.


3. URL, Last accessed on 8th November 2007.

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