The question of the origin of life
was studiously ignored by the scientific community for three quarters
of a century after Pasteur, with two isolated exceptions: A. I.
Oparin in Russia, and J. B. S. Haldane in England.
The very finality of Pasteur's experiments had made chemical inquiry
into the development of life from nonliving chemicals not really
This chapter is concerned with
the reawakening of the concept of spontaneous generation in a new,
restricted, and scientifically verifiable form.
We do not claim now that it happens all the time; Pasteur took care
of that. What we do believe is that the spontaneous generation of
life happened once on this planet, and that it then destroyed the
conditions under which it could happen again.
The picture is "The Second Day of Creation" a 1925 woodcut
by the Dutch artist M.C. Escher