The question of whether the chicken or the egg came first is incredibly old. Hints of the underlying problem appear in works by Plato and Aristotle, and the issue itself is directly addressed by Plutarch.

First, the problem needs to be set up properly, to prevent flippant answers that don't really tackle the question.

"Dinosaurs laid eggs millions of years before chickens existed, so the egg came first"

Not much of an answer, really. Implicit in the question is that we're talking about chicken eggs here. So let's set it up as "Which came first, the chicken or the chicken-egg", if that makes everyone happy

"The Bible says that God created animals (see Gen 1:21), so the chicken came first."

In addressing the key issues, this isn't a bad response actually. The deeper question - how do we resolve causal loops to origins - is rather neatly solved by saying "We don't. God does, by starting things off."

However, it requires a belief in God as the Prime Mover. As many people aren't happy with this, let's skip this answer and press on with the question.

"Evolutionary theory tells us that at some point, a non-chicken creature laid an egg which grew into a chicken. This means that the chicken-egg came first."

Hmm. This answer begs the question (which doesn't mean what you think, check the writeup). What the person who responds this way has done is assume the answer to motivate the answer, by defining a chicken-egg as "The thing a chicken hatches from". But why not define it as "The thing a chicken lays"? Then the answer to the question, using the evolutionary logic, is that the chicken came first.

But we haven't really got anywhere. Either we can get stuck in a Sorites Paradox, arguing about when a chicken becomes a chicken and an egg becomes a chicken-egg, or we pick one of the two arbitrarily, which is much the same as answering the question at random. This avenue seems fruitless

"But if the chicken came first then where did the egg come from. And if the egg came first... You've confused me, and you aren't letting me give a good answer!"

Aha! Now you're getting it. Whether the chicken or the egg came first doesn't bear answering, it's not that sort of question. Rather, it's used as symbolic of the problem of resolving causal loops. The Creationist and Evolution responses refuse to accept the reality of the case by finding get-outs. That may be the way to go, and that there are no examples of the chicken-and-egg problem in real life. However, they seem to breach no logical rule. A modern example occurs in certain forms of time-travel scenario.

So next time someone gives a throwaway answer to this old puzzler, don't let them get away with it.

"The origin of birds is still up in the air." - Alan Feduccia

I’d like to unscramble this adage notion of what came first beyond the given probable truths. The previous node argues, “Whether the chicken or the egg came first doesn't bear answering, it's not that sort of question. Rather, it's used as symbolic of the problem of resolving causal loops.” I disagree, just because both comes from the other does not necessarily mean it’s a loop. Additionally, there are real life examples of this philosophical dilemma. A hall of mirrors at a carnival, each attempt at an answer leads to the next question/leads to another mirror. The question must be answered in a more formal manner, and I do admit that the question is ambiguous, but I refuse to believe that the question itself was created as an exercise in semantics.

What this question does not prove:
God exists. This is not proven by the question, but if you would humor me and imagine an “international debate” where theorists try to prove whether or not God exists and they bring up “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” One guy stands up and for an hour lectures on how God exists because the chicken came first. He goes through the explanation of why the chicken came first and because the chicken came first God exists – a true loop. An atheist then stands up and says, “I once heard from an agnostic (because he could never ever say this himself…) that God could have created the egg first.”

A quick history:
Although one side of the answer can be found from the Bible, the oldest form of print with the origin of the question is found in the book “Table Talk,” with an entire section devoted to discussing the question. It was entitled, “Whether the hen or the egg came first,” suggesting that the origin of the question was brought about even further back in time.

It is important to realize chickens are a complex animal, without such consideration you will miss the “true answer” near the end of the node. Dr. John Morris is right when he says that chickens are complex in design. “Chickens are amazingly complex creatures, with their hollow bones, intricate feathers, four-chambered heart, continuous air intake, high metabolism, complex brain, good hearing, superb color vision, etc. Modern domestic chickens aren't very good flyers, having been bred to stay home, but neither were the recently wild forefathers of chickens from which they were bred. Everything about a chicken suggests careful design.” Of course chickens were not likely one of the initial birds; it’s more than likely one of the evolved species of birds. It’s even more likely that birds evolved from dinosaurs – which hopefully you didn’t first hear about from the movie Jurassic Park. (Which I might add – Jurassic Park III was the worst movie I’ve ever seen – ever.)

It is also important to consider what chickens evolved from, the Red Jungle Fowl, in Thailand. “The red jungle fowl is said to be the original "chicken" from which all domestic chickens are descended based on comments and observations made by Darwin.” (Some guy’s website) And if you’re interested in knowing where the phrase “cock-a-doodle-doo” came from its from the domestic chicken’s ancestor, red jungle fowl, a mating call to attract females and scare off other males.

    Mega Foundation gives four distinctions of the question, which throughout the article I inherently answered before I even read this website or these distinctions.
  • 1. Which came first, the chicken or (just any old) egg?
  • 2a. Which came first, the chicken or an egg laid by a chicken?
  • 2b. Which came first, the chicken or an egg containing a chicken?
  • 2c. Which came first: the chicken, or an egg laid by and containing a chicken?
  • For a quick reference the site gives the answers: (1) The egg. (2a) The chicken. (2b) The egg. (2c) The chicken.

The egg came first:
If the egg came first, wasn’t it laid by a chicken? NO! Genetic material does not alter during an animal's life. It does however change in the egg. “Therefore the first bird that evolved into what we would call a chicken, probably in prehistoric times, must have first existed as an embryo inside an egg.” (CNN) Professor John Brookfield said, “Therefore, the first living thing which we could say unequivocally was a member of the species would be this first egg," he added. "So, I would conclude that the egg came first.” Two none-chickens mated, they may have been the same species of another bird, but some mutation happens. It mutates in the cells that create the egg. Thus the egg hatches the first chicken. Perhaps some of you are now thinking, well yeah with this technicality sure the egg came first, but you forget the initial question, “What came first: the chicken or the egg.” Maybe if you first come to understand the true question here you will find the true answer. Perhaps if you asked the question with a slight phrase change, “What came first, the chicken, or its eggs?” Oh… there you go. If a chicken hatches from an egg, and it so happens it was the first chicken because in the egg it mutated, then that proves the egg came first.

If God didn’t out right create chickens from the fifth day of The Creation, then the egg came first. The problem with this notion is change of definition of the question, which would then read, “Which came first: the chicken, or any egg.” This is a good train of thought though. Any none-chicken bird laying an egg means the egg came first unless some previous bird gave live birth to the chicken. I don’t deny the possibility, but I don’t even know of a bird that gives live birth, and I wish / bet I am the first person to consider the chicken came first because of live birth. Damn it to all I’m not the first person to consider it, after I wrote all this shit I found this website. Go figure. “Could the first chicken have evolved from a viviparous or live-bearing species, and after being born alive, have started laying eggs? All the biological evidence says no.”

The chicken came first:
Yes, us God/Bible believers know that the chicken came first, God created it on the fifth day along with every other fowl which you can read in the first chapter in Genesis.

"every winged fowl after their kind" (Genesis 1:21)
“According to the Creator of chickens, and the author of the Record of their origins, chickens came first.” (Dr. John Morris)

Another farfetched point Aren’t these all farfetched points? is the Thai alphabet. “ก or "gaw" is represented by a picture of a chicken. The second letter of the Thai alphabet is ข or "kaw" and is represented by the picture of an egg.” (Wikipedia) This author goes on to consider the notion of syntax. In the sentence the word chicken is in front of the word egg. So to be fair while editing my creation, I have moved “The egg came first” portion on top of “The chicken came first” portion because the question has such advantages. Then the syntax argument is null-and-void due to the structure component.

The answer:
“Scientists agree on where chickens came from: In a sense, human beings invented them, just like they invented cows and pigs and other domesticated animals on Old MacDonald's Farm.” (Word Detective) So the real answer is chickens came first because humans named them. They named the egg – egg, and named the chicken – chicken. If the chicken came first you believe the perspective of God created fowls on the fifth day, he created fowls before they laid eggs, he equipped them with the ability to reproduce, etc. If you want to take the perspective of believing the first chicken came from an egg that was laid by two none-chickens that mutated and hatched into the first chicken, then you believe the egg came first. The true question may lie here though: Is it a chicken while it’s an egg? How could the egg come first if it isn’t a chicken until it hatches because then it wouldn’t even exist? Well of course it does exist so the egg came first! Ok so maybe it is a loop. Perhaps the most important thing wrought from this might be what Dr. Morris concluded. “A more interesting question arises. Which came first—the commitment to naturalistic evolution and the necessity that animals arose from different animals, or the data to support it?” – a real life example of the question, which came first – the chicken or the egg.
The true answer: It is really just a matter of gradualism versus sudden changes in evolution. “The transition from non-chicken to chicken is a grey area in which several generations are involved, and therefore which includes many many chicken-and-egg events, with no one step representing the whole. Since the result of the process is an incomplete transition into various new characteristics rather than one single blueprint, a new species, "chicken,” is only identified in hindsight when the species can be obviously identified as different from its ancestral stock.” (Wikipedia) What I don’t want to leave you with is this: This is a good theory - All good theories create more questions than gives answers. This is not true, this is not a good theory, a good theory is the Big Bang theory and that one surely does create more questions than answers.

The egg is a chicken, obviously. Damn pro-life communists.

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