Formal structure of a logical argument

The hard evidence is still there, you said; current evolved organisms are exploiting it right now. Is that confirmed research, or an assumption?
The fact that certain clays, complex chemicals in certain environments, and similar stuff, replicates itself with variations subject to selection, is well established by observation. Even the growth of snowflakes and mineral crystals from "seeds" broken off of initial formations illustrates the basic mechanism involved - you can watch it unfold in competing frost patterns on a window.

Most focused research on what can result has been limited to investigation of possible chains abiogenesis leading directly and immediately to the living beings we see now: Not too many people care very much about the complexity of the "inorganic" formations of the prebiotic planet, other than to note and deal with the difficulty of distinguishing their occasionally preserved residues from fossils of living beings in very old rock.
Cairns-Smith asked himself two questions: What are the essential properties needed for a living system, and can those properties be found anywhere other than the forms of life that we know today?
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