In Medieval times, it was widely accepted that maggots were generated from food scraps, clothe moths from wool and mice from wheat! Interesting experiments were devised to prove this belief. One 17th-century physicist by the name of J.B. Van Helmont thought that if he spread a few grains of wheat on a dirty cloth, mice would be generated.1 And when maggots appeared in rotting meat, they were regarded as proof that life could arise from lifeless matter.
Only later was it understood that maggots did not come about spontaneously, but from the nearly microscopic eggs that adult flies laid on the meat.
The theory of spontaneous generation was shown to be totally false by the famous 19th-century French scientist, Louis Pasteur, who summarized his findings in this triumphant sentence:
Today the theory of abiogenesis has been discarded in favor of the theory of biogenesis, which holds that life comes from only from life. (See: Biogenesis.) But some evolutionist circles that still defend the idea that life was formed long ago from some chance combination of lifeless matter. But they have been unable to prove their claims scientifically, and their attempts to do so have been inconclusive. (See Miller Experiment, theand Fox Experiment, the.)
1 Ozer Bulut, Davut Sagdic, Selim Korkmaz, Biyoloji Lise 3, (“Biology High School 3”) MEB Publishing, Istanbul, 2000, p. 182.
2 From Rene Vallery-Radot, The Life of Pasteur, 1920, Garden City, NY: Garden City Publishing Company, Inc., p.109. http://www.foundersofscience.net/interest1.htm