from Adaptation and Natural Selection, Princeton University Press, 1966, p. 5.
" Evolutionary adaptation is a phenomenon of pervasive importance in biology. It's central position is emphasized in the current theory of the origin of life, which proposes that the chemical evolution of the hydrosphere produced at one stage an 'organic soup' of great chemical complexity, but lifeless in its earliest stages. Among the complexities was the the formation of molecules or molecular concentrations that were autocatalytic in some manner. This is a common chemical property. Even a water molecule can cataliyze its own synthesis. Only rarely would a molecule be formed that would produce chance variations among its 'offspring' and have such variations passed on to the next 'generation,' but once such a system arose, natural selection could operate, adaptations would appear, and the Earth would have a biota."
Copyright 1966, 1992 Princeton University Press