A critical assessment of the recent developments of molecular biology is presented. The thesis that they do not lead to a conceptual understanding of life and biological systems is defended. Maturana and Varela's concept of autopoiesis is briefly sketched and its logical circularity avoided by postulating the existence of underlying living processes, entailing amplification from the microscopic to the macroscopic scale, with increasing complexity in the passage from one scale to the other. Following such a line of thought, the currently accepted model of condensed matter, which is based on electrostatics and short-ranged forces, is criticized. It is suggested that the correct interpretation of quantum dispersion forces (van der Waals, hydrogen bonding, and so on) as quantum coherence effects hints at the necessity of including long-ranged forces (or mechanisms for them) in condensed matter theories of biological processes. Some quantum effects in biology are reviewed and quantum mechanics is acknowledged as conceptually important to biology since without it most (if not all) of the biological structures and signalling processes would not even exist. Moreover, it is suggested that long-range quantum coherent dynamics, including electron polarization, may be invoked to explain signal amplification process in biological systems in general.