So far as we know, nowhere in nature does any organism make a membrane de novo. Every membrane in use anywhere came from extending an existing membrane, and maybe splitting it.
So, arguably, the real basic stuff of life is not nucleotides, but the primordial membrane we are still busy extending.
One thing we can be certain about is that the world where life originated was very little like today's. Besides lacking oxygen, whatever got in the water stayed until it degraded or stuck to something else. Today, anything of any value gets eaten in short order.
We can imagine seas teeming with random nucleotides and RNA. A remarkably simple RNA can reproduce others it bumps into. Once any two of them encountered one another, the seas would instantly be filled with (near) copies of whichever was even infinitesimally faster at it. It wouldn't matter if they were unstable, because they would always be making more.
When you have trapped some in a semipermiable membrane, you are most of the way to life as we know it.
from an experimental standpoint it is completely possible that the universe started a few minutes ago or that the laws of physics changed in completely random ways, but we still want to study how the universe could have started given our current understanding of it.
there is no reason why the big bang is a truer hypothesis than intelligent design/creationism for the beginning of the universe, but one of them can help us improve our understanding of our current universe the other does not.
the situation is the same for the creation/evolution of life: assuming darwinism helps developing new drugs and intelligent design does not.
personally I take it as: if an intelligent entity created of guided the universe it also carefully added the traces of an undesigned origin for us to study.