[link to www.britannica.com (secure)
Quotes from the above link to Britannica:
1. "abiogenesis, the idea that life arose from nonlife more than 3.5 billion years ago on Earth. Abiogenesis proposes that the first life-forms generated were very simple and through a gradual process became increasingly complex. Biogenesis, in which life is derived from the reproduction of other life, was presumably preceded by abiogenesis, which became impossible once Earth’s atmosphere assumed its present composition.
Although many equate abiogenesis with the archaic theory of spontaneous generation, the two ideas are quite different. According to the latter, complex life (e.g., a maggot or mouse) was thought to arise spontaneously and continually from nonliving matter. While the hypothetical process of spontaneous generation was disproved as early as the 17th century and decisively rejected in the 19th century, abiogenesis has been neither proved nor disproved."
2. "There remain many unanswered questions concerning abiogenesis.
Experiments have yet to demonstrate the complete transition of inorganic materials to structures like protobionts and protocells and, in the case of the proposed RNA world, have yet to reconcile important differences in mechanisms in the synthesis of purine and pyrimidine bases necessary to form complete RNA nucleotides.
In addition, some scientists contend that abiogenesis was unnecessary, suggesting instead that life was introduced on Earth via collision with an extraterrestrial object harbouring living organisms, such as a meteorite carrying single-celled organisms; the hypothetical migration of life to Earth is known as panspermia.