The Creation Explanation
|Life -- Miracle, Not Accident|
Where Does Life Come From?
Philosophers and scientists have for centuries speculated about the possibility that life can originate apart from reproduction by existing life. Greek and Egyptian scholars thought that mice, frogs, or worms came up from the ground. Some scientists in the past have believed in the idea of spontaneous generation, that life could suddenly appear. It was thought, for example, that pond water produced frogs. One man reported that he had found a way to develop mice through spontaneous generation, placing some wheat, cheese, and dirty rags together in a jar. After a time, he found that the jar contained mice. No doubt the experiment would have proved negative had he put a lid on the jar.
The spontaneous generation view was population view was popular until the excellent work by Francisco Redi, an Italian gentleman of science who began a study of maggots. People of his day believed that maggots a sprouted spontaneously from meat. This would not have been actual spontaneous generation, for the cells in the meat had been living material, but it would have been on the order of spontaneous generation, having entailed the rapid conversion of one creature's substance into another creature.
Redi showed that meat left open to the air was soon infested with maggots, whereas maggots did not appear in meat loosely covered with a cloth. This led subsequently to the discovery of the life cycle of the fly which lays eggs on the meat. The eggs hatch into the larval called known as maggots. The cycle closes when the maggots are transformed into a new generation of flies. These findings resulted ultimately in the rejection of the concept of spontaneous generation for large creatures.
When Leeuwenhoek discovered microscopic organisms and their universal presence known, many thought they arose by spontaneous generation. Scientists observed that almost any sterilized nutrient medium left exposed to the air soon was filled with millions of microorganisms. Louis Pasteur demonstrated, however, that the organisms were introduced into the system riding on air-born dust particles. He established this by placing nutrient broth in a "Pasteur flask," a flask connected to the air only through a very narrow, sharply curved tube. Airborne dust and bacteria were trapped on the interior surface of the curved tube, and the broth remained sterile indefinitely although the air had free access to it. Only the dust particles with their adhering bacteria were excluded. Pasteur's work permanently settled the question of spontaneous generation. All scientists agree that it is not occurring in the present world.