Spontaneous generation is a defunct theory text books use to illustrate the superiority of modern science. It was a medieval belief that things like rotting meat would spontaneously generate maggots, and so on. Our textbooks explain that this theory was abundantly disproven and that modern academics would never be suckered into that kind of silliness.
Hold on to that thought.
Breaking the Laws of Physics, Very, Very Slowly
Let's start by saying that the laws of thermodynamics are as rock solid as anything in physics has ever been and as solid as anything is likely to be in the foreseeable future. They've been held up so many times by experiments and in everyday life that challenging them is generally taken as a sign of derangement.
The second of those laws says the entropy of a closed system can only increase. Entropy, as you may recall, is the tendency of matter to wind down and wear out. Entropy breaks up concentrations of things, spreading them out till all is a neutral, useless mass. Always.
And that brings us to something all of us learned about in grammar school: the primordial soup. That's the story, I trust you will remember, that there was a mud puddle (or maybe a swamp), back a jillion years ago. And in that puddle, life created itself. A micro-glob of this connected to a micro-glob of that, and boom, life began. Teacher said so.
Except that this flatly violates the second law of thermodynamics. After all, the law says that things go from higher concentrations to lesser concentrations, from more order to less order. So, how can this puddle organize itself? And how are we to reconcile all of this with the fact that Teacher is never wrong?
Perhaps the second law of thermodynamics fell asleep for an eon or two, allowed the micro-globs to start life, and then came back? That would be quite a trick. I wonder how we'd run an experiment to check that.
Ah, but wait! Maybe it got struck with lightning! Well, that explains it. Lightning reverses the second law of thermodynamics, right? Only in Frankenstein movies.
"No, no," Teacher says. "You don't understand. It took a really, really long time. More time than you can imagine."
Well, that changes everything, right? The second law functions only in the short term, yes? No, of course not. We don't drop an egg on the sidewalk, wait a year, and expect it to come back together… that ain't happening… and it wouldn't happen if you waited a hundred billion years either. Entropy works in the other direction. After a week or two the pieces of egg would be scattered beyond recognition.
And by the way, have you ever examined the strings of DNA that are a central component of all living things? Even at their simplest, they are gigantic molecules that look like a twisted ladder, several million rungs long… a ladder that's so perfectly designed that it zips and unzips itself right down the middle. And swamps produce these things all the time, do they?
Come to think of it, what we were taught in school sounds a lot like the old medieval idea… leave dead stuff laying around and life will pop out of it.
So, you see, people do still believe in spontaneous generation. They just cloak it in "billions of years."
I think we can now say good-bye to the primordial soup… and to all the confused children it produced.
The Infallible Word of Darwin
There is, however, a problem here: The primordial soup is Darwin's hook… it's what evolution hooks up to at the end of the line! That point of origin can't be changed… and it's only questioned by religious nuts!
Still, that second law really is kind of important, isn't it? Hmm…
Okay, let's back up and be honest long enough to say two things about the work of Charles Darwin:
Evolution does occur.
Darwinism is a religion.
Evolution, meaning the changing of organisms over time, really does happen. It can be demonstrated in laboratories, among other things. So we can't honestly ignore Darwin.
On the other hand, Darwinism really is a religion, and its adherents display the zeal of converts. And in fact most of them are converts. Mainly they're people who are really pissed off at Christianity or Judaism and who use their Darwinism as a tool of revenge… to the point where they'll ignore whatever stands in the way of their revenge… like that pesky second law.
Still, species do change over time. And so, I'd suggest to the Darwinists (not that they'd listen) that they should start with what they can prove by experiment and then try to get back to the primordial ooze in a strictly scientific way (piece by slowly established piece).
The magnificent irony here is that the Darwinists get back to their beginning with a very religious claim: "See, there's a pattern!"
Patterns are fine for making guesses; they're not fine for spawning dogmas.
I Could Go On…
I could go on, but the fact that spontaneous generation is still enthroned in the world of science is quite enough to bite off in one day.
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