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Discovery Magazine 9/1/2005

The Law of Biogenesis

by  AP Staff

As scientists study nature, they observe that certain things happen with astounding regularity. One of the things that happens regularly is that living things always come from other living things. Scientists have known this for many years. In 1858, a German scientist by the name of Rudolph Virchow stated it like this: “Every cell arises from a preexisting cell.” In 1860, Louis Pasteur, a famous French scientist, said: “Every [biological] living thing arises from a preexisting living thing.”

Two very famous experiments were done in the past that helped to disprove the false idea of spontaneous generation (that in nature life came from non-life). These experiments also helped scientists to identify the Law of Biogenesis. The first experiment was done by an Italian scientist named Francisco Redi, who lived from 1626-1698. In his day, many people believed that life spontaneously generated from nonliving things. One of the most common ideas was that maggots spontaneously generated from meat. The proof offered for this was that if meat was left sitting out for a time, maggots would form. Redi did not believe that maggots spontaneously generated. He believed that flies landing on the meat caused the maggots. In order to test his idea, he did a series of experiments, which took place in 1668. He put meat in several jars. Some of the jars he left open so that flies could land on the meat. Some of the jars he completely sealed so that no air or flies could get to the meat. Other jars he covered with a netted fabric like our medical gauze. As he expected, maggots formed only on the meat that the flies could contact. No maggots formed in the sealed or covered jars. His experiments proved that maggots did not spontaneously generate.

Although Redi’s experiments were helpful with the idea of maggots, many people continued to believe that tiny, microscopic germs could form from nonlife. Around the year 1860, a brilliant scientist named Louis Pasteur dealt the deathblow to the theory of spontaneous generation. He did a series of experiments in which a liquid was boiled in a special flask. The flask had a long S-shaped curve designed to let air in, but to trap any organisms in the bottom of the curve. After boiling the liquid, no organism grew because of the specially designed flasks. Pasteur proved once and for all that germs and bacteria are carried through air, and do not spontaneously generate. Today, liquids like milk are “pasteurized” (heated to kill microorganisms) using the same idea that Pasteur used to disprove spontaneous generation. The next time you see a carton of milk, look on the side to see if it is pasteurized. (It is!)

These scientists of the past were proving what scientists of today call the Law of Biogenesis. This law says two things: (1) living things always come from living things; and (2) living things produce only more living things like themselves. In nature, we have never seen a single exception to this basic law of science. For example, to get a cow, you must first have a living thing. But, that living thing cannot be a horse, a donkey, or a whale. It must be a cow. To get a rose, you must have a living rose. To get a lion, you must have a living lion. That is what the Law of Biogenesis says. And remember—there areno exceptionsto this scientific law.

Evolution is in disagreement with this law. Evolutionists who do not believe in God tell us that living things in nature came from nonliving matter. They also tell us that one kind of animal gave rise to a different kind of animal. But that would violate this known law of science!

The Bible makes it clear that life did not originate in this fashion. Rather, living things on the Earth were created by a living God Who is supernatural, which means that He is outside of nature. Genesis 1:20-25 states:

Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind.... Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind.

The Law of Biogenesis is not make-believe; it is real. It is a law observed everyday in nature. One reason that evolution cannot be true is because it goes against this law.

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*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

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