The view of biology often presented to the public is oversimplified and out of date. Scientists must set the record straight, argues a new book. This the introduction of the following Nature article :

The key point of the article from Nature titled "It’s time to admit that genes are not the blueprint for life" is the reevaluation and critique of the long-held belief that the human genome is akin to an instruction manual for life. The article emphasizes that most genes do not have a pre-determined function based on their DNA sequence alone. Instead, gene activity, including expression and the length of the protein they encode, is influenced by a multitude of external factors such as diet and environmental conditions during organism development. It also highlights that many genes can be mutated, yet the organism may still function normally, suggesting that genes are not solely responsible for specific traits or diseases.

The article further argues against the simplification of genes as the sole determinants of life, using the metaphor of a protein with a fixed shape binding to its target as similar to a key fitting into a lock. It points out that many proteins have disordered domains, which are not fixed but change constantly, allowing for versatility in protein interactions. This "fuzziness and imprecision" is not a sign of poor design but an essential feature of protein interactions, enabling rapid response to changes within the cell.

Philip Ball, the author of "How Life Works: A User’s Guide to the New Biology," argues for a shift in the scientific community's understanding of biology, away from viewing cells as computers and genes as their code. He emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the complexity of biology and the limitations of genetics in explaining diseases like schizophrenia, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer, which are rooted in physiological processes rather than genetic components.

The article also challenges traditional views of evolution, suggesting that the process involves more than random mutations but includes reshuffling, duplicating, and modifying protein modules. It introduces the concept of agency, attributing the ability of an organism to bring about change to itself or its environment to achieve a goal, rather than attributing such agency to genes, proteins, or evolutionary processes.

In conclusion, the article advocates for a profound rethinking of how life works, moving away from gene-centric views of biology and embracing a more holistic understanding that considers the physiological processes and agency of whole organisms. This shift is seen as crucial for advancing our understanding of life and potentially finding cures for major health-care burdens.