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spontaneous generation and panspermia

Jonathan Badger badger at phylo.life.uiuc.edu
Mon Jan 16 20:27:43 EST 1995

mjg5 at ukc.ac.uk (ShereKhan) writes:

>Erm, I've just started reading this news group.  Isn't spontaneous generation
>just a 'remembered theory' from the past that has given way to the greater
>understanding of microbiology and more broadly, evolution?

Well, obviously spontaneous generation happened at some point -- there
had to be at least one living organism that was created by some
non-biological process to get life started. This is of course
different from the "spontaneous generation" that people believed until
the last century -- flies created by rotting meat, and so forth.

Many people on this group have mentioned Oparin, one of the first people to
give modern spontaneous generation much thought. He's the fellow that coined
the phrase "primordial soup". Unfortunately, Oparin 1) lived in the 
pre-molecular biology age (he did most of his work in the 1920's) and 2)
was an ardent Marxist and his work tends to suffer from Marxist mysticism
(the idea of History (with a capital H) marching forward to a glorious future 
is present in a lot of his work)

More recently, people such as Manfred Eigen and Gunter Wachterhauser have 
provided models more in tune with modern scientific knowledge.

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