It is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life. Who can explain what is the essence of the attraction of gravity? No one now objects to following out the results consequent on this click here unknown element of attraction; notwithstanding that Leibnitz formerly accused Newton of introducing “occult qualities and miracles into philosophy”» (Peckham 1959:748). Darwin raised the issue again in 1868, when he published The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication. In this book he wrote «It is the consideration and explanation of such facts as these which has convinced me that the theory of descent with modification by means of natural selection is
in the main Selleck GS-7977 true. These facts have as yet received no explanation on the theory of independent Creations; they cannot be grouped together under one point of view, but each has to be considered as an ultimate fact. As the first origin of life on this earth, as well as the continued life of each individual, is at present
quite beyond the scope of science, I do not wish to lay much stress on the greater simplicity of the view of a few forms, or of only one form, having been Fosbretabulin originally created, instead of innumerable miraculous creations having been necessary at innumerable periods; though this more simple view accords well with Maupertuis’s philosophical axiom ‘of least action’» (Darwin 1868, Vol 1:12). Heterogenesis, Archebiosis and Spontaneous Generation: A Cautionary Note on Nomenclature Analysis of Darwin’s views on the origin of life and those of his contemporaries must take into account that during the 19th century the usage of the term “spontaneous generation” was open to different interpretations. As underlined by Farley (1977), Strick (2000) and Raulin-Cerceau (2004), debates on the existence or denial of spontaneous generation included a major distinction between two largely forgotten terms, i.e., heterogenesis and archebiosis. According to Henry Charlton Bastian, one of the most prominent characters during the Victorian origin-of-life
Carbachol debates, archebiosis refers to the “origin of living things from not-living materials” whereas heterogenesis was “the possibility of living things arising by previously unknown methods from the matter of pre-existing living things”, which could be decaying or not (Bastian 1907; Strick 2000). Darwin read critically Bastian’s 1872 book The Beginnings of Life. Although he was not convinced in full, he did accept the possibility of a natural origin of life from non-living matter, and wrote to Wallace [Letter 8488] (Strick 2000), «My Dear Wallace,—I have at last finished the gigantic job of reading Dr. Bastian’s book and have been deeply interested by it. You wished to hear my impression, but it is not worth sending. He seems to me an extremely able man, as, indeed, I thought when I read his first essay.