First Formation of Living Beings – Vital Principle – Abiogenesis – Spontaneous
Generation – Scale of Material Beings – Man.
First Formation of Living Beings
1. There was a time when animals did not exist, and also a time when they began to
appear. Each species appeared as soon as the Earth acquired the conditions necessary to its
existence; this we positively know. But how were the first individuals of each species formed?
A first couple must have been formed. Many beings have sprung from them; but this first
couple, whence did they spring? This is one of the mysteries of the beginning, about which one
can form only hypothesis. If science cannot yet completely solve the problem, it can at least put
us on the way to a solution.
2. The first question presenting itself is this: has each animal species sprung from a single
first couple, or have many couples been created simultaneously in different places?
This last supposition is the most probable. One can even call it a result of observation.
Accordingly, studies of the geological layers indicate the presence of the same species in great
quantities — in terrains of identical formation — on points of the globe very distant from one
another. Such generalized and somewhat contemporaneous multiplication would have been
impossible with one single primitive type.
Moreover, the life of an individual, above all that of a growing child, is submitted to so
many uncertainties, that an entire species would be endangered without a plurality of primitive
types, which would not be in accordance with divine foresight. Besides, if one type has been
able to form itself upon a certain point, there is no reason why it should not be formed in many
places by the same cause.
All concur then in proving that there has been a simultaneous and multiple creation of the
first couples of each animal and vegetable species.
3. The knowledge of the formation of the first living beings can be deduced by analogy
from the same law, by means of which have been formed and are forming every day inorganic
bodies. According as one studies the laws of nature, one sees the machinery which at first sight
appears so complicated, become simplified, and blend into the great law of unit, which presides
over the entire work of creation. One will comprehend it better if one will notice the formation
of inorganic bodies, which is the first stage of it.
4. In chemistry are found a certain number of elementary substances, such as: —oxygen,
hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, chlorine, iodine, fluoride, sulfur, phosphorus, and all the metals. By
their combination they form compound bodies: — the oxides, acids, alkalize, salts, and
innumerable varieties resulting from combinations of these.
By the combination of two bodies, in order to form a third, a particular concurrence of
circumstances is exacted, — either a determined degree of heat, dryness or humidity, movement
or repose, or an electric current, etc. If these conditions do not exist, the combination does not
5. When there is combination, the bodies composing it lose their characteristic properties,
whilst the composition resulting from it possesses new ones, different from those of the first. It is thus, for example, that oxygen and hydrogen, which are invisible gases, being chemically
combined, form water, which is liquid, solid or vaporous according to temperature. Water,
properly speaking, is no more oxygen and hydrogen, but a new body. This water decomposed,
the two gases, becoming again free, recover their properties and are no more water. The same
quantity of water can thus be decomposed and recomposed ad infinitum.
6. The composition and decomposition of bodies take place according to the degree of
affinity that the elementary principles possess for one another. The formation of water, for
example, results from the reciprocal affinity of oxygen and hydrogen but, if one places in
contact with the water a body having a greater affinity for oxygen than for hydrogen, the water
is decomposed; the oxygen is absorbed, the hydrogen liberated, and there is no more water.
7. Compound bodies are always formed in definite proportions; that is to say, by the
combination of a quantity determined by the constituent principles. Thus, in order to form
water, one part of oxygen is needed and two of hydrogen. If you mix two volumes of hydrogen
with more than one of oxygen, then cause them to unite, the hydrogen would only unite with
one volume of oxygen; but, if in other conditions there are two parts of oxygen combined with
two of hydrogen, in place of water, the dentoxide of hydrogen is obtained, — a corrosive liquid,
formed, however, of the same elements as water, but in another proportion.
8. Such is, in few words, the law which presides at the formation of all natural bodies.
The innumerable variety of these bodies is the result of a very small number of elementary
principles combined in different proportions.
Thus oxygen, combined in certain proportions with sulfur, carbon, and phosphorus, forms
carbonic, sulfuric, and phosphoric acids. Oxygen and iron form the oxide of iron, or rust;
oxygen and lead, both inoffensive, give place to the oxides of lead, such as litharge, white lead,
and red lead, which are poisonous. Oxygen, with metals called calcium, sodium, potassium,
forms limestone, soda, and potassium. Limestone, united with carbonic acid, forms the
carbonites of limestone, or calcareous stones, such as marble, chalk, building stones, the
stalactites of grottos. United with sulfuric acid, it forms the sulfate of limestone, or plaster and
alabaster; with phosphoric acid, the phosphate of limestone. The solid base of bones, hydrogen,
and chlorine form hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid and soda form the hydrochloride of
soda, or marine salt.
9. All these combinations, and thousands of others, are artificially obtained on a small
scale in chemical laboratories. They are operated on a large scale in the grand laboratory of
The Earth, in its beginning, did not contain these combinations of matter, but only their
constituent elements in a state of volatility. When the calcareous and other soils became after a
long time stony, they had been deposited on its surface. They did not at first exist as formations,
but in the air were found in a gaseous state. These substances, precipitated by the effect of cold
under the sway of favoring circumstances, have been combined according to the degree of their
molecular affinity. It is then that the different varieties of carbonates and sulfates, etc., have
been formed, — at first in a state of dissolution in the water, then deposited on the surface of the
Let us suppose that by some cause the Earth should return to its primitive incandescent
state; all that we see would decompose; the elements would separate; all fusible substances
would melt; all those which were volatile would return to a state of volatility; after which a
second cooling process would lead to a new precipitation, and the ancient combinations would
10. These considerations prove how necessary is chemistry to give us an intelligent idea
of Genesis. Before the knowledge of the laws of molecular affinity, it was impossible to comprehend
the formation of the Earth. This science has thrown an entirely new light upon the question, as
astronomy and geology have done upon other points of view.
11. In the formation of solid bodies, one of the most remarkable phenomena is that of
crystallization, which consists of the regular form which certain substances appropriate in their
passage from the liquid or gaseous state to a solid condition. This form, which varies according
to the nature of the substance, is generally that of geometrical solids, such as the prism, the
rhomboid, cube, and pyramid. Everyone has seen the crystals of sugar candy, — rock crystals,
or crystallized silica, which are prisms with six sides terminated by a pyramid equally
hexagonal. The diamond is pure carbon, or crystallized coal. The designs which are produced
upon window-panes in winter are due to the crystallization of the vapor from water under the
form of prismatic needles.
The regular disposition of the crystals belongs to the particular form of the molecules of
each body. These infinitely small particles occupy, nevertheless, a certain space, have been
drawn toward one another by molecular attraction; they are arranged and in juxtaposition to one
another, according to the exigency of form, in such a way that each one takes its place around
the nucleus, or first center of attraction, and forms a symmetrical whole.
Crystallization only operates under the empire of certain favorable circumstances,
without which it cannot take place. A right degree of temperature with repose is an essential
condition. Too much heat, keeping the molecules separated, would prevent condensation; and,
as agitation is opposed to their symmetrical arrangement, they would form only a confused and
irregular mass under its influence, which is consequently not crystallization in the true sense of
12. The law which presides at the formation of minerals leads naturally to the formation
of organic bodies.
Chemical analysis shows us that all vegetable and animal substances are composed of
the same elements as inorganic bodies. Of these elements those which play the principal role
are: oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon; the others are only accessory to them. As in the
mineral kingdom, the difference of proportion in the combination of these elements produces all
varieties of organic substances and their various properties: such as, muscles, bone, blood, bile,
nerves, cerebral matter, and fat among animals; and sap, wood, leaves, fruits, essences, oils, and
resins in the vegetable kingdom. Thus no special body enters into the composition of animals
and plants which is not also found in the mineral kingdom. *
*The following table of analysis of a few substances shows the difference of properties resulting solely
in the difference in the proportions of the constituent elements in 100 parts: —
| Carbon |
| Hydrogen |
| Oxygen |
| Nitrogen |
| Sugar-cane |
| 42.470 |
| 6.900 |
| 50.530 |
| - |
| Grape-sugar |
| 36.710 |
| 6.780 |
| 56.510 |
| - |
| Alcohol |
| 51.980 |
| 13.700 |
| 34.320 |
| - |
| Olive-oil |
| 77.210 |
| 13.360 |
| 9.430 |
| - |
| Oil of nuts |
| 79.774 |
| 10.570 |
| 9.122 |
| 0,534 |
| Fat |
| 78.996 |
| 11.700 |
| 9.304 |
| - |
| Fibrin |
| 53.360 |
| 7.021 |
| 19.686 |
| 19.934 |
13. A few common examples will show the transformations which take
place in the kingdom of organic beings by the modification of the constituent
In the juice of the grape is found neither wine nor alcohol, but simply water and sugar.
When this juice has arrived at maturity, and is placed in favorable circumstances, fermentation
is produced. In this process a portion of the sugar is decomposed. Oxygen, hydrogen, and
carbon are separated, and combined in the required proportions to form alcohol. By drinking the
grape-juice when it is first formed, one does not drink alcohol, as it does not yet exist therein;
thus, the alcohol is formed from the constituent parts of water and sugar existent therein,
without adding or taking away one single molecule.
In bread and vegetables that we eat, there is certainly neither flesh, blood, bone, bile, nor
cerebral matter; yet these articles of food produce them by decomposing and recomposing in the
labor of digestion, and produce these different substances solely by the transmutation of their
In the seed of a tree there is neither wood, leaves, flowers, nor fruit; and it is a puerile
error to believe that the entire tree, in a microscopic form, is found in the seed. There is not even
in this seed the quantity of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon necessary to form a leaf of the tree.
The seed encloses a germ which comes to light when, the necessary conditions are found. This
germ grows by aid of the juices it draws from the Earth, and the gas that it inhales from the air.
These juices, which are neither wood, leaves, flowers, nor fruit, by infiltrating themselves into
the plant, form sap, as food with animals makes blood. This sap, carried by the circulation into
all parts of the vegetable, according as it is submitted to a special elaboration, is transformed
into wood, leaves, and fruits, as blood is transformed into flesh, bones, bile, etc.; and, although
these are always the same elements, — oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon, — they are
14. The different combinations of the elements for the formation of mineral, vegetable
and animal substances can then be formed only under propitious circumstances. Outside of
these circumstances the elementary principles are in a sort of inertia; but, as soon as conditions
are favorable, a work of elaboration commences. The molecules begin to move: they act,
approach, and are drawn toward one another, and separate by virtue of the law of affinity, and
by their multiple combinations compose the infinite variety of substances. If these conditions
cease, the work is suddenly arrested, to recommence so soon as conditions are again furnished.
Thus vegetation is active, retards, ceases, and resumes action under the power of heat, light,
humidity, cold, and dryness; as some plants prosper in one climate or soil, and perish in another.
15. That which took place from the beginning is daily taking place under our eyes; for the
laws of nature are always the same since the constituent elements of organic and inorganic
beings are identical.
As we continually see them under the empire of certain circumstances form stones,
flowers, and fruits, one can conclude that the bodies of the first living beings were formed as the
first stones, — by the reunion of elementary molecules by virtue of the law of affinity,
according as the conditions of vitality of the globe have been propitious to this or that species.
The similitude of form and color in the reproduction of individuals of each species can be
compared to the similitude of form of each species of crystal. The molecules, being in
juxtaposition under the dominion of the same law, produce an analogous whole.
16. Though we say that plants and animals are formed of the same constituents as
minerals, it is necessary to understand this statement in a purely material sense, as it has
reference only to the body.
Without speaking of the intelligent principle, which is a question by itself, there is in
organic matter a special indiscernible principle, which has never yet been defined: it is the vital
principle. This principle, which is active in living beings, though extinct in beings deprived of
life by death, nevertheless gives to them characteristic properties, distinguishing them from
inorganic substances. Chemistry, which decomposes and recomposes the greater part of
inorganic bodies, has power to decompose organic bodies, but has never known to reconstruct
even a dead leaf, which is a conclusive proof that there is something in one which does not exist
in the other.
17. Is the vital principle something distinct, having a separate existence before it enters
the systematic unity of the generative element? Or is it only a particular state, one of the
modifications of the universal cosmic fluid, which has become the principle of life, as light, fire,
heat, electricity? It is in this last sense that the question is solved by the communications
connected with this subject (chap. VI, “General Uranography”).
But, whatever the opinion be concerning the nature of the vital principle, we know it
exists as we see the effects of it. One can then admit logically that, in forming themselves from
it, organic beings have assimilated the vital principle necessary to their existence as immortal
beings; or, if one wishes to say that this principle has been developed in each individual through
a combination of elements under the rule of certain circumstances, one sees heat, light, and
electricity develop themselves.
18. Oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon, in combining themselves without the vital
principle, form only a mineral or inorganic body. The vital principle, modifying the molecular
constitution of this body, gives to it special properties. In place of a mineral molecule is found a
molecule of organic matter.
The activity of the vital principle is sustained during life by the action of the organs, as is
heat by the rotary movement of a wheel. As this action ceases with death, the vital principle is
extinguished, as heat is when the wheel ceases to turn. But the effect produced upon the
molecular state of the body by the vital principle lives after its extinction, just as the
carbonization of wood continues after the extinction of heat. In the analysis of organic bodies,
chemistry finds again the constituent elements, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon; but it
cannot reconstruct them, because the cause exists no more: and thus the effect cannot be
reproduced, although it can reconstruct a stone.
19. We have taken as an illustration heat generated by the movement of a wheel, because
it is a common effect known to all and easier to comprehend; but it had been more exact to say,
that in the combination of elements needed to form organic bodies, they are developed by
electricity. Organic bodies are therefore veritable electric batteries which operate to the extent
that the elements composing them are in a condition to generate electricity, which is life. When
these conditions are arrested, death ensues. The vital principle can be none other than a
particular kind of electricity designated under the name of animal electricity, evolved during life
by the action of the organs, of which the production is arrested by death owing to the cessation
of this action.
Abiogenesis - Spontaneous Generation
20. One naturally asks: why have there not been formed more living beings in the same
conditions as the first to appear on Earth?
The question of abiogenesis with which science is occupied today, although yet diversely
decided upon, cannot fail to throw light upon this subject. The problem proposed is this: are
there spontaneously formed in our day organic beings by the sole union of the constituent
elements without previous germs produced by ordinary generation, i.e., without fathers or
The partisans of abiogenesis reply affirmatively, and are supported by direct
observations, which seem conclusive. Others think that all living beings are reproduced by one
another, and support this fact arrived at by experience, as the germs of certain vegetable and
animal species, being dispersed, can preserve a latent vitality for a considerable time until
circumstances are favorable to their birth. This opinion does not answer any question
concerning the formation of the first parents of any species.
21. Without discussing the two systems, it is well to remark that the principle of
abiogenesis can evidently be applied only to the inferior order of beings of the vegetable and
animal kingdoms, to those on which life is commencing to dawn, their organisms being
extremely simple and rudimentary. These are probably the first which have appeared upon the
Earth, of which the generation has been spontaneous. We could thus form an idea of a
permanent analogous creation to this which has taken place in the first ages of the world.
22. Why, then, could not beings of a complex organization be formed in the same
manner? That these beings have not always existed is a positive fact: then they must have had a
beginning. If moss, lichens, zoophytes, infusorians, intestinal worms, and others can be
spontaneously produced, why is it not the same with trees, fishes, dogs, and horses?
For a time investigations rest here. The conducting thread is lost, and, until that be
found, the field is open to hypothesis. It would then be imprudent and premature to give any
views on the subject as absolute truths.
23. If the fact of abiogenesis is proved, however limited it may be, it is no less a capital
fact, a steady beacon-light on the way to new discoveries. If complex organic beings are
produced in this manner, who knows how they have obtained their origin? Who knows the
secret of all transformations? When one regards the oak and the acorn, who can say if a
mysterious tie does not exist between the polyp and the elephant? (n° 25). From our current
state of knowledge we cannot thus far establish the theory of permanent spontaneous
generation, expect as a hypothesis; however a hypothesis that will perhaps in the future take a
prominent place among the incontestable scientific truths. *
*« Revue Spirite, » July 1868, page 201: Development of the Theory of Abiogenesis.
Scale of Material Beings
24. Between the vegetable and animal kingdom there are no distinctly traced boundaries.
Upon the borders of the two are the zoophytes, or animal plants, of which the name indicates
that they belong to both: they are the hyphen between the two.
Like animal, plants are born, live, grow, are nourished, breathe, reproduce their kind, and
die. Like them they have need of light, heat, and water; if they are deprived of them, they wither
and die. The absorption of vitiated air and deleterious substances poisons them. Their distinctive
trait of character, the most defined, is of being attached to the soil, and, without leaving their
place, drawing their nourishment from it.
The zoophyte has the exterior appearance of a plant. Like the plant it belongs to the soil,
but seems to partake more of the nature of an animal. It draws its nourishment from the ambient
An animal, being one degree above a zoophyte, is free to go and seek its food. Firstly,
there are innumerable varieties of polyps with gelatinous bodies, without very distinct organs,
and which differ from plants only by locomotion. Then come in the order of development those
with organs of vital activity and instinct, — intestinal worms, mollusks, fleshly animals without
bones, of which some are entirely destitute, as slugs or cuttle-fish; others are provided with
shells, as snails and oysters; then shell-fish, of which the skin is invested with a hard shell, like
crabs and lobsters; insects, who lead a very active life, and manifest an industrious instinct, like
the ant, the bee, and the spider; a few submit themselves to a metamorphosis, as the caterpillar,
which is transformed into an elegant butterfly. Then comes the order of vertebrates, — animals
with a bony framework, — which comprises fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals, of which the
organization is more complete.
25. If we consider only the two opposite ends of the chain, there is no apparent analogy in
these beings. However, if we go from one ring to the other, without solution of continuity, we
arrive, without any sudden transition, from plants to vertebral animals. One can then understand
the possibility that animals of complex organization may be no more than a transformation, or if
we prefer, a gradual development, unnoticeable at first, of the immediately inferior specie and
thus successively down to the most elementary primitive being. Between the acorn and the oak
tree, there is a great difference; nevertheless, if we follow step by step the development of the
acorn, we will arrive at the oak tree, and then we will not be surprised to see that it originated
from such a small seed. If the acorn encompasses, in latency, the elements appropriate to the
formation of a gigantic tree, why then won’t the same happen from the insect to the elephant?
From the above we conclude that there is no spontaneous generation, except for
elementary organic beings; the superior species would be a product of successive
transformations of these same beings, achieved as soon as atmospheric conditions were
propitious for it. When each species acquired the ability to reproduce, their crossbreeding
brought about innumerable varieties. Then, once the species were set in conditions of lasting
vitality, who could say that the primitive germs from which they emerged did not disappear, for
lack of usefulness? Who could say that our current day insect is not the same that, from
transformation to transformation, produced the elephant? This would explain why there is no
spontaneous generation among animals of complex organization.
Although not yet admitted as final, this theory tends evidently to prevail in Science today.
It is the theory accepted by most serious observers, for being the most rational.
26. At the corporeal and purely anatomical point of view, man belongs to the mammals,
from which he differs only slightly in outward form. Beyond that he is of the same chemical
composition as all animals, has the same organs, functions, modes of nutrition, respiration,
secretion, and reproduction. He is born, lives, and dies in the same conditions; and at his death
his body is decomposed like that of all other beings. There is not in his blood, flesh, or bone, an
element more or less than in those of the lower animals. Like the latter, in dying he renders to
the Earth oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon, which were combined in order to form him,
and go towards forming new combinations, new mineral, vegetable, and animal bodies. The
analogy is so perfect that man can study his own organic functions in certain animals when
experiments cannot be made with himself.
27. In the family of mammals man belongs to the two legged order of animals.
Immediately below him comes animals with four legs, — the monkeys, of which a few, like the
orangutan, chimpanzee, and the ape, have certain ways like men, so much so that for a long
time they have been called wild men of the woods. Like him they walk erect, use a stick, and
carry food to their mouths with their hands, which are characteristically human habits.
28. Although one can observe the scale of living beings at the point of view of organism,
it is recognized that from the lichen to the tree, and from the zoophyte to man, there is a
continuous chain elevating itself by degrees, in which all the links are joined together.
Following step by step the series of beings, one can say that each species is a transformation of
the species immediately below it. Since the body of man is in conditions identical with other
bodies chemically and constitutionally, as he is born, lives, and dies in the same manner, he
must have been formed in the same way.
29. Although it is humbling to his pride, man must be resigned to behold in his material
body only the last link of animality upon the Earth. The inexorable argument of facts compels
him thus to regard himself, against which all protestation is vain.
But the more the body diminishes in value in his eyes, the more the spiritual principle
increases in importance. If the first puts him on a level with the brute, the second elevates him
to an immeasurable height. We can see the point where the animal stops; but, we cannot see the
limit to which the human spirit can attain.
30. Materialism can see by this that Spiritism, far from fearing the discoveries of science
and its positivism, goes before and invites them, because it is certain that the spiritual principle,
which has an existence of its own, can suffer no harm from them.
In the field of matter, Spiritism advances side by side with materialism. It admits
everything the latter does, though it advances beyond the point whereat science stops. Spiritism
and materialism are like two travelers going on a journey, leaving from the same point. After a
certain distance, one tells the other: “I cannot go any further.” The other however proceeds and
discovers a new world. Why should the first traveler say that the second traveler is crazy? Only
because, upon foreseeing new horizons, one decides to surpass the limits whereat the other
decided to stop? Was not Christopher Columbus labeled crazy because he believed in the
existence of a world beyond the ocean? How many of these crazy and sublime people, who
propelled humanity forward and to whom we now render our praises — after throwing mud at
them — does History register?
Spiritism, the idiocy of the 19th century, according to those who want to remain at the
shores of Earth, reveals to us a whole new world. A world which is more important to mankind
than America, as not everyone can go to America, whereas all of us, without exception, go to
the Spirit world — usually making numerous trips from one world to the other.
Reaching the point wherein we currently find ourselves in Genesis, materialism comes to
halt, while Spiritism proceeds with its researches, in the realm of Spiritual Genesis.