Marxism and Science and Spontaneous Generation

QUESTION: Marxism and Science – Spontaneous Generation


The aspect of evolutionary theory that is most important to Marxists is spontaneous generation. A fervent belief in the doctrine that life arose from non-life allows Marxists to abandon God completely.

Marx uses the concept of spontaneous generation to back both his philosophy and his theology, stating, “The idea of the creation of the earth has received a severe blow...from the science which portrays the . . . development of the earth as a process of spontaneous generation....Generatio aequivoca [spontaneous generation] is the only practical refutation of the theory of creation.”1

Marxism and Science – Abiogenic Origin of Life
Marxists continued to embrace spontaneous generation long after the time of Marx and Engels. A.I. Oparin, a Marxist scientist, “was the first to enunciate the theory of abiogenic origin of life.”2 Oparin claimed, “We have every reason to believe that sooner or later, we shall be able practically to demonstrate that life is nothing else but a special form of existence of matter.”3

Modern Marxist textbooks also embrace the theory of spontaneous generation. M.V. Volkenshtein, author of Biophysics, declares that Oparin “presumed that the origin of life had been preceded by chemical evolution....Today these ideas are widely accepted.”4

Engels held firm his belief in spontaneous generation when other scientists were in doubt. Louis Pasteur (1822–1895) disproved the theory of spontaneous generation, but Engels was unconvinced: “Pasteur’s attempts in this direction are useless; for those who believe in this possibility [of spontaneous generation] he will never be able to prove their impossibility by these experiments alone....”5

Secular Humanists, Marxists, and Postmodernists must assume the theory of spontaneous generation in spite of its unscientific nature. Science has proven that life only comes from pre-existing life. It has not proven that non-life leads to life. Microbiology professor Michael Behe elaborates, “One of the chief advocates of the theory of spontaneous generation during the middle of the nineteenth century was Ernst Haeckel, a great admirer of Darwin and an eager popularizer of Darwin’s theory. From the limited view of cells that microscopes provided, Haeckel believed that a cell was a ‘simple little lump of albuminous combination of carbon,’ not much different from a piece of microscopic gelatin. So it seemed to Haeckel that such simple life, with no internal organs, could be produced easily from inanimate material. Now, of course, we know better.”6

Marxist faith in spontaneous generation has not wavered for more than a century. But Marxist faith in Darwin’s specific version of evolutionary theory of gradualism (evolution of new species by gradual accumulation of small genetic changes over long periods of time) has faltered considerably since Marx and Engels first embraced it.


Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Cited in Francis Nigel Lee, Communism Versus Creation (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1969), 68. For a scientific look at the major issues involved in the theory of spontaneous generation, see David Berlinski’s “The Origin of Life” Commentary magazine, February 2006.
2 M.V. Volkenshtein, Biophysics (Moscow, USSR: Mir Publishers, 1983), 565.
3 A.J. Oparin, The Origin of Life (Moscow, USSR: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1955), 101.
4 Karen Arms and Pamela S. Camp, Biology, 2nd ed. (New York, NY: CBS College Publishers, 1982), 293. Arms and Camp turn to Oparin and Haldane for confirmation of spontaneous generation: “In 1924 a Russian, Alexander Oparin, published a theory of how life could have arisen from simple molecules on the early earth. An English¬man, J.B.S. Haldane, published a paper in 1929 that said essentially the same thing....Research since then has largely borne out the predictions made by Oparin and Haldane. Scientists have simulated prebiotic (before life existed) conditions in their laboratories; surprisingly, the nonliving systems formed in these artificial environments exhibit many properties that we consider characteristic of life” (p. 294). Haldane, wrote the preface and notes for the 1940 edition of Engels’ Dialectics of Nature. See Frederick Engels, Dialectics of Nature (New York, NY: International Publishers, 1976).
5 Frederick Engels, Dialectics of Nature (New York, NY: International Publishers, 1976), 189.
6 Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York, NY: The Free Press, 1996), 24.

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