Archive for Saturday, July 16, 2011

Faith Forum: How would your faith help you answer the age-old question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

July 16, 2011


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

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


Gene Wallace 6 years, 10 months ago

The creature that was "Almost a chicken" laid the egg which hatched into the first chicken. ... The Universe is a sentient Living Entity. The "spirit"/"soul" of the Universe is the One deity of the Universe. I call the Universal deity, "Universe", while others use the names Force, Source, I Am, Goddess, God and Spirit. Universe is Immanent within all Life and Living things. (Including each of Us) Universe experiences the lives of all living things within itself. Universe and it's physical body, "The Universe" lives through an evolving cycle of Life from birth, growth/expansion, maturing, aging (contraction or dissipation) to death and rebirth. In this present cycle, birth was a Big Bang. there are other ways the Universe may be reborn. Simply: Our Universe lives through a "Groundhog's Day" paradox with Us being evolved in this one cycle. We, too, live through numerous life cycles. Universe is Immanent within Us, we are part of Universe and are all connected, To commune with Universe/deity, all we need do is look within our own selves.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 10 months ago

“Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Ever since evolution, or something like that, became accepted scientific fact, that has been one of the most stupid questions ever asked.

Chickens, like all birds, are descendents of the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs reproduced using eggs external to the body. That means that the evolutionary chain of reproduction via the use of eggs predated what we now call chickens by well over 50 million years. Therefore, the egg came first.

If you don't understand that, there is no hope that you will ever pass Logic 101 in college.

It's a dogmatic question that is often asked by those who are not looking for a serious answer.

If there is a conflict between what is quite obviously scientific fact and your religion, there is something wrong with your religion. Or perhaps you are schizophrenic, in which case you should continue the debate with whatever entity you want to create, and please don't waste real people's time with it.

If you are to not hold one set of beliefs on the Sabbath and another on the other six days of the week, you will need to select a religion that accepts logic and scientific fact as something that can be reconciled with your faith. Otherwise you will be struggling to believe things that you know can't possibly be true, or you will have to simply not think about things to much.

I suppose I shouldn't really recommend any specific religion. That is a deeply personal choice dependent not only upon beliefs, but also upon social aspects, tribal groupings, morality, ethical principles, sets of holidays, and language.

But if you select one that teaches Creationism because you think that is the only one that will get you to Heaven or keep you out of Hell, you need to explore your belief system a bit further.

There are faiths that reconcile scientific facts and evolution with sets and subsets of Diestic beliefs, whether or not the miracles in the Bible actually occurred or not, ethics, morality, and a hope of an existence that follows this one.

I am not recommending this as a Divinely inspired work, but it is good advice:

Matthew 7 [7] "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 10 months ago

To discover the answer to that, you'll need to study evolutionary biology. I have no idea when sexual reproduction first came into play. But, it was certainly long before there were dinosaurs!

Gene Wallace 6 years, 10 months ago

From: "The Charge of The Goddess" "...And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. ..." The Goddess being the divine Feminine aspect of the one Universal deity and Life Force of our Living Universe.

Tandava 6 years, 10 months ago

Holzwarth is absolutely correct. All birds evolved from dinosaurs, and dinosaurs laid eggs, therefore the egg came long before the chicken (or any other bird). Anyone who thinks otherwise is just plain stupid.

Hmmm. Now I am wondering, which came first, the dinosaur or the egg? (^_^)

Paul R Getto 6 years, 10 months ago

The age of magic is over folks, but some people still can make a living off the remains. We are redesigned fish, but if the meteor hadn't hurt them badly, it's possible the dinosaurs would have eventually evolved into an intelligent species. We chimps beat them to it, but some think intelligence is still not particularly evident, given our more unsightly behaviors. Here's the solution: If you cannot abandon magical thinking, the big bang was the eye of a 'god' blinking. See how easy it can be? All that's left now is to pick the god that most pleases you. My choice, Zao Jun, the Chinese Kitchen god.

Liberty275 6 years, 10 months ago

“Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Eggs... of dinosaurs.

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