spontaneous generation

The origin of existence of living bodies from non-living or inert matter. In the strict meaning of the term it implies the origin of a living body from a non-living body, by the operation of some forms of energy or force such as the physicochemical powers of lifeless matter. In this sense it corresponds to the scientific term abiogenesis. In a wider sense it is taken to mean the origin of living bodies from non-living bodies but through the exercise of some force superior to the physicochemical power which belongs to all matter. It was in this latter sense that some scholastic philosophers used it to explain the appearance of low forms of life in decaying organisms. It is no longer considered possible.

New Catholic Dictionary

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