The Rev. Shannah M. McAleer, senior minister, Unity Church of Lawrence, 900 Madeline Lane:
The age-old question of whether the chicken came first or the egg can lead into the deeper question of which came first the creator or creation.
If the creator came first who or what created the creator?
In the writings of Bukhari in 846 CE we see this very question raised. It is said that the Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying, “A day will certainly come when some people will sit with their legs crossed and ask, ‘If God created everything, then who created God?’”
More than a millennium later we can ask the same question. If we define God as the Being that created all of creation-as most Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and other faiths do, then, by definition God is not created. God would not be God if there was a greater being that created all creation.
An example that demonstrates this comes from the magazine called the Fountain (Issue 72, Nov./Dec. 2009). In this metaphor there is a moving train with each car seemingly pulled by the one before. But the locomotive is not pulled by the one before. The locomotive is not pulled by anything, and it pulls all the other cars. The question, “Who pulls the locomotive?” has no meaning because it simply does not apply to a locomotive.
Similarly, in the infinite nature of creation, God is the locomotive, which makes the question “Who created God?” therefore similarly meaningless.
So, which came first, the chicken or the egg? I would say the chicken as it created the egg, just as God comes first before its magnificent creations — then creation takes it from there!
— Send e-mail to Shannah McAleer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Josh Longbottom, associate pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.:
People use the question of the “chicken or the egg” to refer to ideas that have no static solution and conflicts that have no resolution.
We have lots of those in the church, questions with no answers.
For example, for a long time the church has talked about Jesus in terms of divine and human, talked about the idea that the spirit can be both immanent and transcendent, and talked about the idea that somehow God is both one and three.
Thousands of years have been spent trying to reconcile these paradoxes. For me, I find them most useful as paradoxes. One side of the answer never feels as if it holds enough mystery to truly capture the complexity of life. Something is lost in simple answers. Real life is paradoxical, if we are honest. We love and hate in the same moment. Building is destroying. Nourishment is killing. Nothing is simple.
I think we are driven by anxiety to create one-sided answers. But in the end, one sided answers fall apart, and we are faced with the anxiety again.
This is why my faith is based in action. The world of thought leads to thoughts that end up in contradiction and paradox. It is a process we can’t avoid and it leads to knowledge. But the ultimate answers cannot yet be described in language and who knows if they ever will be. The ultimate answers are found in relationship, community and transcendent unity.
Ultimate answers aren’t about what you know, they are about who we become.
When I look at the question of the “chicken or the egg” from my faith perspective, I can see why the phrase has lasted so long. By voicing a paradox, it doesn’t reduce itself to simple answers.
— Send e-mail to Josh Longbottom at email@example.com.