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As we all should know, abiogenesis and spontaneous generation are far from identical. For one, spontaneous generation was disproven with Pasteur, and abiogenesis seems to be a solid scientific theory. However, one can loosely summarize both as "the emergence of life from non-living materials" which, at the very least, is confusing for the layman.

My question is: What truly differentiates abiogenesis from spontaneous generation? For example, if abiogenesis were to happen again, how would we differentiate the two terms?

Is time the most contributing factor (abiogenesis happened over hundreds of millions of years)? Or the fact that abiogenesis generates "primitive organisms", while spontaneous generation assumes the generation of evolved, complex organisms?

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One important difference is that spontaneous generation is a form of "mechanism" by which a certain species is "born", so it is repeated many times. For such complex organisms this would be part of their "life cycle". It would also need to be a regulated, robust process.

Abiogenesis, on the other hand, would create an organism which from that point on does not rely on abiogenesis in any way, so it would be a unique event. Abiogenesis is highly probabilistic which is why it would result in very simple organisms.

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