Biogenesis postulates that life can only arise from a preexisting life.
The biogenesis theory emerges as an alternative about the origin of life. Until the 18th century the scientific and philosophical community believed in spontaneous generation or abiogenesis, that is, that organisms are capable of developing from inorganic matter, from the active principle of life.
The biogenesis theory was considered valid in 1887 after John Tyndall found that Louis Pasteur’s experiments were correct and that spontaneous generation was not possible.
The rise of the theory of biogenesis is unleashed after the discovery of microorganisms through the microscope of Anton van Leeuwenhoek in 1668.
From that moment, those who supported spontaneous generation used this evidence to confirm that life arises from spontaneous generation in the world of microscopic organisms.
Experiments to prove the theory of biogenesis and refute with scientific evidence spontaneous generation as the origin of life, divided scholars into biogenists and abiogenists.
The first experiments against spontaneous generation were made by Francesco Redi in 1668. By introducing a piece of rotting meat in a closed and an open jar, only the emergence of life in the open container was observed questioning spontaneous generation as the origin of the life.
Faced with the controversy, the French Academy of Sciences created the Al Humbert Prize in 1864 to motivate scientists to reach a conclusion. On the side of the spontaneous generation was Felix Archimede Ponchet (1800-1872) and defending the theory of biogenesis was Louis Pasteur (1822-1895).
The winner of the Al Humbert Prize was the French chemist Louis Pasteur. The scientist, by means of gooseneck flasks and the use of sterilized liquids, showed that a liquid can be kept free of microbes if it is properly maintained. In this way he confirms that spontaneous generation as the origin of life is not possible.
Biogenesis and Abiogenesis
In 1870, the biologist Thomas Huxley coined the term abiogenesis to refer to those who supported the theory of spontaneous generation as the origin of life.
The abiogenists were against the theory of biogenesis that postulates that life can only arise from a preexisting one.