"My thesis is that the network of catalytic polymers and substrates that Kauffman postulates as an initial self-organising complex system which can give rise to more lifelike systems is so inordinately complex and unlikely that it in no way addresses the crucial problem of the origin of life."
Completely agree. I would even extend that to say that it is probably impossible.
"Any chemist would ask: 'What is driving this cycle of reactions? Where is the energy coming from? What is preventing this system from dissipating?'
There is no such thing as 'Order for Free'. That is the Law. If you want order at point A, you need to dump your disorder at points not-A. Should anyone claim there is such a thing as 'Order for Free', let them be unto you even as the homeopaths and the creationists."
Absolutely. It is a very contrived system that is required, and a plausible natural mechanism is required that would probably generate it (Not *possibly* generate it - it needs a contrived repeatable mechanism that we would think hah! that just could work if I could repeat the conditions precisely)
Metabolism is the key. My thought is that any systems which generates copies of something is showing metabolism anyway. You can see energy being burned in the suns in the sky and emanating from the hot cores of planets and dumped randomly into the rest of the universe. There are not just a few planets and suns - They have imperfect copies of themselves all over the universe. It is a loose use of metabolism and reproduction, but the universe is full of things that make their outside more random and are reproduced somehow.