The case of Chicken v. Egg

Posted: July 31, 2007 in Christianity, Evolution, Parenting, Random Thoughts

Understanding that my readers come here for definitive answers on many of life’s issues, (well, that and pictures of Jennifer Lopez, of which I’ve posted only one, but still seem to get a lot of traffic from the search engines, but I digress) I offer you here the once and forever answer to that eternal question, “Which came first: the chicken, or the egg?

The answer is:  It depends. 

If you are a follower of Evolutionism, then it clearly has to be the egg.  Because under evolutionary theory a transitional species — say some hybrid between a turtle and a duck perhaps — one day grunts out an egg, inside of which rests an embryo whose DNA got just a little bit scrambled when some recessive gene traits lying dormant in the parents were all intertwined in the process of conception, and suddenly, POOF, one day, out pops a proto-CHICKEN instead of turtle or a duck!  So clearly, in the evolutionist worldview, the egg has to have come first.

To a Creationist, however, it is has to be the chicken.  For if you created the egg FIRST, you’d have no creature around to warm and incubate it, nor feed or nurture it upon birth. Thus it is counter-intuitive to create an egg which would, from the get-go, be exceedingly non-viable. So clearly, to the Creationist view, it has to be the chicken first.

However, this doesn’t address the issue of the fact that in most natural settings, an offspring born which radically differs from the source parents pairs, or which is in any way deformed or the “runt” of the litter, is often abandoned, neglected to death, or presumptively killed and/or eaten by the stronger siblings or the dominant brood pairs.  Small wrinkle in the egg first theory.  But hey, after all, it is still just a theory, right?

  1. laelaps says:

    I’m afraid you’ve made a few mistakes here regarding evolution, and the answer to the question cannot be “it depends”; it might be if you want to be a relativist where everyone’s reality is what they choose to make it, but in truth the egg showed up long before the chicken.

    The amniotic egg was a major milestone in evolutionary history, the earliest amniotes we know (amniote meaning laying an egg with an external covering that kept moisture in, allowing animals to move away from the water) were lizard-like creatures such as Hylonomus lyelli, the first amniotes giving rise to the lines that would lead to all other amniote lines to come. This was over 315 million years ago during the Carboniferous. These early amniotes (in addition to giving rise to the ancestors of mammals which laid eggs, and some mammals like the echidna still lay eggs today) were the ancestors of dinosaurs, dinosaurs evolving into birds. The earliest confirmed bird yet known is, of course, Archaeopteryx, so there were already birds by the Lare Jurassic, and a number of them like Confuciusornis are known from the early Cretaceous. Chickens did not show up until long after dinosaurs were gone, and so the egg long precedes the chicken. If creationists want to say otherwise, they need more proof than mythology that was essentially lifted from Babylonian and Chaldean creation stories, just co-opted into their own religion.

    Likewise, evolution didn’t occur through some weird turtle-duck hybrids or anything of the sort (I have actually never heard of such an idea before). The natural amounts of variation, plus changes in development due to nutrition or the timing of genes turning on and off, gives natural selection plenty of material to work on; evolution does not produce mutant freaks that parents abandon, as is suggested in your last paragraph.

    In any case, the reality is that amniotes have been around for hundreds of millions of years (and humans are amniotes too), and that is the plain truth.

  2. Steve B says:

    Granted, the duck-turtle thing was just me being a tad ridiculous. However, despite your excellent background summation, I was not dealing with the origins of the egg, but rather, the chicken. My premise being that modern chickens, if not created ex nihilo in their current form, were the result of a mutation or genetic aggregation from one of those transitional species.

    Ultimately, my somewhat obtuse point was that you can’t have one without the other.

    What I don’t get is, if evolution is accepted as akin to a natural law at this point, why aren’t we tripping over transitional species? Why aren’t their other hominid species as apes continue to evolve into human-esque variants?

    I’m by no means a six-day creationist. While I have a hard time fathoming that all this came about through random chance and unguided adaptation, I do think there is room for variation within species. What I don’t get is how you transition from a ground-based feathered reptile to an avian species, accompanied with the requisite genetic memory on how to fly/avian instincts for navigation, etc. But then, I’m by no means an expert in the field.

    As far as the Babylonian/Chaldean creation myths, I find it rather amusing that the base assumption always seems to be that judeo-christian idea about creation came from the Babylonians, and not the other way around. Early oral tradition of hebraic ancestors could easily have influenced these ancient cultures, cultures which (according to Biblical history) routinely took large chunks of those forebeares as slaves, often assimilating aspects of their culture and traditions.

  3. […] Question: Who was the first person to say, “See that chicken there… I’m gonna eat the next thing that comes outta its bum.” Cybrspin’s Smartass Newfie Answer: Could be the same person who ate the chicken. Wonder what he ate first the chicken or the egg. […]

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