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Christian views on spontaneous generation

Copyright © 2004
[Posted: April 26, 2004]

[This file is part of the Spontaneous Generation FAQ.]

Augustine mentioned it, and Origen. I don't know that "spontaneous" would actually reflect their views, as it looks like Origen thought it was due to divine providence. Augustine was trying to reduce the payload of the ark.

From Origen's Contra Celsus, Book 4, last sentence in chapter 57:
(mentioned again briefly in chapter 59)

But since there are, from the beginning of the world, laws established for the purpose of regulating the changes of bodies, and which will continue while the world lasts, I do not know whether, when a new and different order of things has succeeded after the destruction of the world, and what our scriptures call the end (of the ages), it is not wonderful that at the present time a snake should be formed out of a dead man, growing, as the multitude affirm, out of the marrow of the back, and that a bee should spring from an ox, and a wasp from a horse, and a beetle from an ass, and, generally, worms from the most of bodies, Celsus, indeed, thinks that this can be shown to be the consequence of none of these bodies being the work of God, and that qualities (I know not whence it was so arranged that one should spring out of another) are not the work of a divine intelligence, producing the changes which occur in the qualities of matter."

Contra Celsus is online at:

From Augustine's "City of God" Book 15, chapter 27, in fourth paragraph:
(there is another mention of creatures being born of "corruption" and then copulating to produce offspring in that chapter)

"Then when it is said 'male and female', no doubt reference is made to the repairing of the races, and consequently there was no need for those creatures being in the ark which are born without the union of sex from inanimate things, or from their corruption;"

City of God is online at:

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