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 mothers?
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.