Island muddy pond, photo credit: Christ 73

Abiogenesis, aka Spontaneous Generation

The supposed development of living organisms from nonliving matter. Also called autogenesis, spontaneous generation.
Medical Dictionary: The Free

Island muddy pond, photo credit: Chris 73

Have you gotten to study about Louis Pasteur yet? Besides his work on preventing germs from spoiling your milk (Pasteurization) and immunization, he is most famous for proving that spontaneous generation is impossible. Which is why people today switched out this debunked idea for the much cooler “abiogenesis”.

What is spontaneous generation, and what do evolution and creationism have to say about it?

Spontaneous generation is the idea that life comes from non-life. From the time of the Greeks, people thought something like this must happen to make freshwater eels because they never saw any eggs.

People in the 1600s had the idea that maggots just came to life on pieces of meat from nowhere. A scientist called Francesco Redi did experiments that showed that the maggots come from the eggs that flies lay. Without flies you have no maggots.

Scientists have never seen a plant or animal come to life without a parent

Creationists say that God is the only one who never came into being since He IS, and time itself is one of God’s designs. This means that God goes infinitely backwards and forward in time (and sideways since He’s everywhere at once). So, all genealogies of living things have God at the end of the list of great, great, grandparents. Luke says this clearly about people in Luke 3:38:

Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

God is the ultimate ‘parent’ and we are all His offspring Acts 17:28:

For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Naturalistic Evolutionists have to say that life came from mindless non-life. They must believe in spontaneous generation. This makes evolutionists very uncomfortable, so they’ve renamed this process “abiogenic origin” [life from non-life] or abiogenesis.

Sounds so much smarter doesn’t it?

But does this idea hold water? What about this foundational understanding of the nature of the world?

All living organisms are composed of cells, and all cells arise from other cells. Biology Reference

And good luck finding any lab experiment that goes beyond a few simple bits of chemicals coming together to form a “simple” cell.
Those who desperately want to not see God our Creator find lots of little things they say could have come together to make something new. They point to experiments working with living cells and moving things around or rewriting what was already in the DNA. But there is nothing in science that comes even close to showing how some cell could come into being without anything guiding it.
A cell needs to do a lot of things, just for starters it has to:
  • process food
  • clean out poisons
  • not fall apart
  • adjust to changing conditions
  • have babies

All at the same time. All by itself.

That last one… even if by some miracle a ‘cell’ could develop all alone, do you have any idea how complicated the mechanisms are for making a copy so there is a new cell?

Because this whole idea is so impossible, evolutionists try to avoid discussions about where the first life came from altogether. Check this debate intro from Creation Today:

“[The guy on the evolution side] defended the evolution worldview and even admitted that he pretended to believe in God to avoid answering the question of abiogenesis…. It took until near the end of the debate for him to admit he really was an atheist. We believe that his invention of a god for that evening was purely to avoid the issue of where life came from as he stated several times he was just discussing common descent and that abiotic origin was not evolution.”

That’s because it didn’t happen that way!!!

God is so great, so smart that He made even the ‘simplest’ living things so complicated no one could miss that they were created.

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;  Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; Acts 17:24,25

More on this topic: The Miller Urey Experiment: Proof for What?

NASA image via WikiCommons

The Miller Urey Experiment: Proof for What?

 Definition of Abiogenesis: the supposed spontaneous origination of living organisms directly from lifeless matter—called also spontaneous generation

NASA image via WikiCommons

Stanley Miller

Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur

Remember learning about Louis Pasteur? Just before his time, many people believed maggots popped into life wherever meat was left out. They didn’t understand the connection between them and flies. They still thought wine fermented on its own, never thinking about yeast.

Belief in life just popping into existence without a parent is called Spontaneous Generation. Back before Jesus’ day, the Greeks and Romans already believed in it. It has never been observed and we now know it can’t happen.

But many scientists still believe it did happen, at least once, somewhere in the universe!

Scientists know people won’t take them seriously talking about spontaneous generation, so they changed the name of their belief. Now they prefer to call it “abiogenesis” which means non-life beginning.

Is abiogenesis really different? No. Which is why you don’t have kids’ books describing it. Instead you read about life after it already existed.

Miller Urey Experiment

Sometimes, books will talk about an experiment scientists did back in the 1953. They say it proved you can get the building blocks for life when things are just right.

equipment for a Miller-Urey type experiment

equipment for a Miller-Urey type experiment

That’s not really true. To get the results they were hoping for, the scientists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey carefully controlled everything:

  •  The amount of light was kept low
  • The temperature was kept just right
  • The ingredients in the experiment were carefully purified
  • No one today thinks they used the right ingredients
  • Most of the chemicals formed were deadly

After all this, they did get some amino acids (what proteins are built from).

Why is the most famous experiment for abiogenesis 60 years old? So many things couldn’t work in the real world, some scientists have switched to just using computers in “virtual laboratories”.

Others have decided life didn’t start on earth and are looking to outer space for answers. In the past few years, scientists have started searching meteorites for the building blocks of life. They are even finding some real extra-terrestrial amino acids. But they don’t like to point out one important thing

Just because you have an amino acid, doesn’t mean you can start new life

Many amino acids aren’t used by any life forms on earth. We know all of those can’t help explain abiogenesis. Even with the right kinds your work isn’t done.

Getting amino acids to combine themselves into something like a protein is a huge task. In the real world, there are a lot of things which would stop amino acids from building anything fancier.

Chirality with hands and two enantiomers of a ...

Chirality with hands and two enantiomers of a generic amino acid.

Even if they did, everything alive uses only half the amino acids produced by non-living reactions. Here’s how it works: amino acids are kind of like your hands; they have all the same parts but are mirror images. Cells almost only use the “left-handed” ones. But, there is always an even mixture of both outside of cells.

Any protein trying to form wouldn’t be able to separate out all the “right-handed” acids and couldn’t form properly. Even if one could somehow form, just one protein doesn’t come close to what you need for a “simple” cell.

The truth is, if you had a perfect environment with everything a cell needs to survive in just the right amounts…

You still couldn’t bring it to life

A dead body isn’t going to come back to life, even with all the parts in place, once the life is gone.

Only life can create life.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

They Aren’t About to Give Up, Though:

2008: Biologists Attempt to Create New Forms of Life (AiG discussion)

2009: RNA “precursors” created in the lab (ICR discussion)

2010: “synthetic life form” created (CMI discussion)

2011: Still studying the Miller Urey experiment (ICR Discussion)

2014: Formation of life’s building blocks recreated in lab (New Scientist- all the same problems are left as with the Miller-Urey experiment except for more acceptable ingredients)

For more, check out:

Creation Origin of Life:

“I have spent the better part of my life learning how/why chemicals react (I am a PhD synthetic chemist). Our best efforts under carefully controlled conditions can only create moderately complex chemicals. Our experience shows that manufacturing complex bio-compounds requires an intelligent creator scientist and we can only make the simpler molecules.” Ed Neeland

Bible Science Guy: Evidence for God – Design Convinces Scientists 7

Institute for Creation Research: Origin of Life Research Still Dead

Institute for Creation Research: Evolution Hopes You Don’t Know Chemistry: The Problem with Chirality

Creation Ministries International: Detailed Criticisms of the RNA World Hypothesis

Answers in Genesis: Why the Miller-Urey Research Argues Against Abiogenesis

Pasteur's Swan Flask

Louis Pasteur’s Swan Flask Experiments

Illustration of Pasteur's swan neck flask experimentSome time ago, I wrote about how Evolutionists still believe in spontaneous generation, just giving it a new name: Abiogenesis. That post mentioned Pasteur a bit and included a picture of one of his experiments using “swan flasks”. Ever since then, I’ve had a trickle of people searching for info about Pasteur’s flasks.

Eventually, I got so curious I did some searching of my own. Here’s what I found:

Louis Pasteur photo

Pasteur’s photo portrait by Nadar

Darwin’s Origin of Species book retelling the ancient idea of biological evolution was first printed in 1859. From the beginning, many people recognized what believing in life creating itself would do to Christianity and human equality, including Louis Pasteur.

Just a few years before, Pasteur had begun studying how microbes (tiny living creatures like bacteria and yeast) were the cause of food spoilage. He was in a perfect place to understand what Darwin was claiming and the scientific truth about life. He was soon busy showing how impossible the #1 necessary step of Evolution was: getting life to start in the first place.

Since the time of the ancient Greeks, people had believed everything from flies to mice to eels just popped into being every day. Slowly, scientists had shown all of them actually had parents.

But then we developed microscopes and started seeing all kind of miniature living things that Pasteur first called microbes. Where did they come from?

Others had tried to show whether microbes just came to life whenever things were right. Some reported that droplets of ocean water reenacted what they believed had been happening since the dawn of time: life springing into being all by itself. But no one really knew how these invisible things worked and they made mistakes like letting air in or not heating things enough to kill everything.

We all understand what Pasteur was the first to figure out: you don’t have to touch something dirty to get germs on you. Bacteria and viruses float around in the air ready to settle into a pleasant environment like your lungs and nose.

Pasteur proved this when he managed to catch some microbes from the air in cotton. He cultured the cotton and it grew the same kinds of microbes as usual. Now it was time to see if stopping those airborne germs stopped life from starting in a flask.

Swan Flask used by Pasteur

Here’s how Pasteur did it:

  • First he made flasks with bent, “swan”, necks. This was to trap all the organisms in the air before they could get through
  • He filled the bottom of the flask with some broth microbes liked to grow in
  • Then he boiled it to kill anything already there
  • While it was still hot, he melted the glass at the tip of the neck to keep microbes from getting in

Nothing grew in the broth

  • Even when the sealed end was broken off, the swan neck did its job (in fact, it’s still doing it’s job today almost 150 years later!)

Some people believed in a “vital ingredient” in air, so Pasteur broke off the tip of the glass neck to let air flow through. But the swan neck shape would catch anything heavier than gas. No microbes could float through.

Finally, Pasteur tipped the flask to expose the broth to the trapped microbes

  • sure enough, it started to culture just like usual

Artwork of Meteorite falling: WikiCommonsAs you know, Pasteur’s experiments were undeniable; what he discovered was true. To this day, evolutionists don’t like to talk about spontaneous generation; most books skip right over it to the “first cells”. The most recent experiment “proving” you could get life to start from non-life is over 60 years old. Some scientists have even turned to asteroids to give them enough time for the impossible to happen.

But, nature serves its Master whether people are willing to worship Him or not.

Let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That you might be justified in your sayings, and might overcome when you are judged. Romans 3:4

Want to see Pasteur’s original flasks keeping germs out? Have a look at the bottom of this page by the Pasteur Institute

You can do Louis Pasteur’s experiment for yourself with the right supplies. This article on how to do it at Biology Junction is worth the read even if you don’t have a lab.

There’s also an interesting 7 minute video about the Swan Flask Experiment at the Education Portal.

Did you notice how much these pages sound like creationists? The people who believed in spontaneous generation are rightly seen as ignorant of reality.

I found a lot of information for this post in the Answers Research Journal article by Alan L. Gillen and Frank J. Sherwin III: Louis Pasteur’s Views on Creation, Evolution, and the Genesis of Germs

Want to see Pasteur’s thoughts on evolution and the origin of life for yourself? Check out this speech he gave in 1864.