Evolutionists have always made high claims about their idea. In the nineteenth century Joseph Le Conte explained that evolution is a law, not a theory, and it is a law to which every department of natural studies must adhere. It is not merely as certain as gravity, "Nay, it is far more certain." Similarly, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin maintained that "evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a trajectory which all lines of thought must follow—this is what evolution is."
Had they thought long enough about it, Le Conte and Teilhard would probably have gladly proclaimed evolution to be life itself. Certainly today this conclusion is hard to avoid. After all evolution has created a variety of mechanisms by which evolution occurs. Evolution created itself, and in the process it has evolved. If life is to be defined as that which evolves, then surely evolution is life itself.
To explain biological change, early evolutionists might have envisioned a simple sort of blending action or random perturbing force. But we now have discovered a series of highly-intricate mechanisms that bring about change. These mechanisms must have been created by evolution.
For instance, one recent paper reviews a mechanism known as horizontal gene transfer, or HGT. The idea is that in addition to genes being modified and created by mutations, they can also be imported in one fell swoop from another organism. Evolutionists debate the extent to which HGT has steered evolutionary history, but they all agree it played a role. As the authors write:
... there is a need for a new evolutionary paradigm that includes horizontal gene transfer
But HGT doesn't just happen. You have to have certain molecular structures and facilities in place (and of course you have to have the genes themselves). Simply put, evolutionists say that evolution created life in such a way that HGT arose at some point.
And there are several other evolutionary mechanisms that had to have evolved as well. From the Mendelian machine described by modern genetics to epigenetics and the ability of organisms to evolve (so-called evolvability), evolution created the evolutionary process. It is the ultimate example of a boot-strap process. According to Evolutionists, evolution is alive.