In a recent study called “Why did life emerge?”, two scientists, son and father Arto Annila of the University of Helsinki and Erkki Annila of the Finnish Forest Research Institute, offer some insight into the general driving force of life’s origins in terms of thermodynamics. As they explain, all organisms are composed of molecules that assemble together via numerous chemical reactions. Just as heat flows from hot to cold, these molecules obey the universal tendency to diminish energy differences, so that the most likely chemical reactions are those in which energy flows “downhill” toward a stationary state, or chemical equilibrium.
So far so good. But then trouble comes.....as trouble is wont to do.....
Although the researchers don’t speculate on the specific chemical reactions that created life, they explain that the molecules involved most likely underwent a series of more and more complex reactions to minimize mutual energy differences between matter on Earth and with respect to high-energy radiation from Sun. The process eventually advanced so far that it cumulated into such sophisticated functional structures that could be called living.
You could also call Abe Vigoda "living", but that doesn't make it so.
“The most important idea in our study is that there is no distinction between animate and inanimate,” Arto Annila told PhysOrg.com. “Processes of life are, in their principles, no different from any other natural processes.”
I've been in biological research science for 30 years, and the terms "don't speculate" and "most likely underwent...reactions" aren't exactly scientific in nature. Basically what they're saying is a miracle occured that we cannot describe, define, or explain but, we essentially know how life started. Further more, as athiests, we know that we are no different than snail darters, Papaya trees, or Canadians. We just took different evolutionary pathways.
Here are Arto and Errki discussing their findings.