|Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?
How Life and the Universe in General Began
The chicken or
the egg causality dilemma is commonly stated as "which came first, the
chicken or the egg?" To ancient philosophers, the question about the
first chicken or egg also evoked the questions of how life and the
universe in general began.
Which came first, the
chicken or the egg? This has been a dilemma for a long period of time
throughout history. This particular question brings up questions about
how life in the universe in general began.
It is believed by many that
the chicken actually came first and not the egg. This theory appears
logical but it also raises many more questions which cannot be answered
Cultural references to the
chicken and egg intend to point out the futility of identifying the
first case of a circular cause and consequence. It could be considered
that in this approach lies the most fundamental nature of the question.
A literal answer is
somewhat obvious, as egg-laying species predate the existence of
chickens. However, the metaphorical view sets a metaphysical ground to
understand its metaphorical meaning, the question could be reformulated
as: "Which came first, X that can't come without Y, or Y that can't come
without X?" An equivalent situation arises in engineering and science
known as circular reference, in which a parameter is required to
calculate that parameter itself. Examples are Van der Waals equation and
the famous Colebrook equation.
Ancient references to the dilemma are found in the writings of classical philosophers. Their writings indicate that the proposed problem was perplexing to them and was commonly discussed by others of their time as well.
Aristotle (384–322 BC) was puzzled by the idea that there could be a first bird or egg and concluded that both the bird and egg must have always existed: If there has been a first man he must have been born without father or mother – which is repugnant to nature.
For there could not have been a first egg to give a beginning to birds, or there should have been a first bird which gave a beginning to eggs; for a bird comes from an egg. The same he held good for all species, believing, with Plato, that everything before it appeared on earth had first its being in spirit.
Plutarch (46–126 AD) referred to a hen rather than simply a bird. In volume 8 of the Moralia, in the books entitled Table-talk, Plutarch discussed a series of arguments based on questions posed in a symposium.
Under the section entitled "Whether the hen or the egg came first", the discussion is introduced in such a way suggesting that the origin of the dilemma was even older:...the problem about the egg and the hen, which of them came first, was dragged into our talk, a difficult problem which gives investigators much trouble.
And Sulla my comrade said that with a small problem, as with a tool, we were rocking loose a great and heavy one, that of the creation of the world..."
Macrobius (early 5th century AD), a Roman philosopher, found the problem to be interesting: You jest about what you suppose to be a triviality, in asking whether the hen came first from an egg or the egg from a hen, but the point should be regarded as one of importance, one worthy of discussion, and careful discussion at that.
Stephen Hawking and Christopher Langan argue that the egg came before the chicken, though the real importance of the question has faded since Darwin's On the Origin of Species and the accompanying Theory of Evolution, under which the egg must have come first, assuming the question intended the egg to mean an egg in general or an egg that hatches into a chicken.
The theory of evolution states that species change over time via mutation and natural selection. Since DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) can be modified only before birth, a mutation must have taken place at conception or within an egg such that an animal similar to a chicken, but not a chicken, laid the first chicken eggs.
These eggs then hatched into chickens that inbred to produce a living population. Hence, in this light, both the chicken and the structure of its egg evolved simultaneously from birds that, while not of the same exact species, gradually became more and more like present-day chickens over time.
However, a mutation in one individual is not normally considered a new species. A speciation event involves the separation of one population from its parent population, so that interbreeding ceases; this is the process whereby domesticated animals are genetically separated from their wild forebears. The whole separated group can then be recognized as a new species.
The modern chicken was believed to have descended from another closely related species of birds, the red junglefowl, but recently discovered genetic evidence suggests that the modern domestic chicken is a hybrid descendant of both the red junglefowl and the grey junglefowl. Assuming the evidence bears out, a hybrid is a compelling scenario that the chicken egg, based on the second definition, came before the chicken.
This implies that the egg existed long before the chicken, but that the chicken egg did not exist until an arbitrary threshold was crossed that differentiates a modern chicken from its ancestors. Since this arbitrary distinction cannot be made until after the egg has hatched, one would have to first find the original chicken, then from this find the first egg it laid.
|How Did the Universe Begin?
While scientists now prefer the Big Bang model over other cosmological
models, the scientific community was once divided between supporters of
the Big Bang and those of alternative cosmological models. Throughout
the historical development of the subject, problems with the Big Bang
theory were posed in the context of a scientific controversy regarding
which model could best describe the cosmological observations.
With the overwhelming consensus in the community today supporting the
Big Bang model, many of these problems are remembered as being mainly of
historical interest; the solutions to them have been obtained either
through modifications to the theory or as the result of better
The core ideas of the Big Bang—the expansion, the early hot state, the
formation of helium, the formation of galaxies—are derived from many
observations that are independent from any cosmological model; these
include the abundance of light elements, the cosmic microwave
background, large scale structure, and the Hubble diagram for Type Ia
Precise modern models of the Big Bang appeal to various exotic physical
phenomena that have not been observed in terrestrial laboratory
experiments or incorporated into the Standard Model of particle physics.
Of these features, dark matter is currently the subject to the most
active laboratory investigations.
Remaining issues, such as the cuspy halo problem and the dwarf galaxy
problem of cold dark matter, are not fatal to the dark matter
explanation as solutions to such problems exist which involve only
further refinements of the theory. Dark energy is also an area of
intense interest for scientists, but it is not clear whether direct
detection of dark energy will be possible.
On the other hand, inflation and baryogenesis remain somewhat more
speculative features of current Big Bang models: they explain important
features of the early universe, but could be replaced by alternative
ideas without affecting the rest of the theory.
Discovering the correct explanations for such phenomena are some of the remaining unsolved problems in physics.
The Chicken or the Egg Dilemma
From the dawn of Time, Mankind has sought to grasp its origins. The Ancients of Babylon, Greece and Scandinavia devised marvelous legends to explain the Universe and since then Mankind has never ceased in its quest to push back the boundaries of its knowledge.
Nowadays, as we straddle the myths of the past and the mysteries of the future, Mankind is attempting to solve these fundamental enigmas by using its powers of reason!
So where does the story stand?
The Chicken or the Egg - How did the Universe Begin?
The chicken or the egg causality dilemma is commonly stated as "which came first, the chicken or the egg?"
To ancient philosophers, the
question about the first chicken or egg also evoked the questions of how
life and the universe in general began.
we assume that at the very beginning of time there was nothing, just a
complete void of emptiness, then how did the Universe begin from
Some scientists believe that there is no reason to believe that the
universe began from nothing. Maybe there was "something" to begin with.
This can be hard to understand and grasp when we think that pretty much
everything that we know of has a beginning and an end. This beginning
and end all comes down to 'Time' and maybe time does not apply to the
universe in this case.
Some other theories believe that the creation of the universe
spontaneously began from nothing. The ekpyrotic universe or ekpyrotic
scenario is a cosmological theory of the origin of the universe.
The Ekpyrotic Universe
The ekpyrotic universe or
ekpyrotic scenario is a cosmological theory of the origin of the
universe. The name comes from a Stoic term for "out of fire". The ekpyrotic model of the universe is an alternative to the standard
cosmic inflation paradigm, both of which accept that the standard big
bang Lambda-CDM model of our universe is an appropriate description up
to very early times. The ekpyrotic model is a precursor to, and part of
the cyclic model.
Brane cosmology assumes that the visible universe lies on a
four-dimensional brane which moves in higher dimensional space. Our
brane may be one of innumerable others moving through these extra
dimensions. The ekpyrotic scenario was proposed by Khoury, Ovrut,
Steinhardt and Turok in 2001.
It suggests that the visible universe was empty and contracting in the
distant past. At some time, our brane collides with another, parallel
"hidden" brane, which caused the contracting universe to reverse and
begin expanding. Hot matter and radiation was created in the collision,
which started the hot big bang from which the present-day universe
The brane collision, from the four-dimensional perspective of the
visible brane, looks like a big crunch followed by a big bang. The
scenario is appealing because it replaces cosmic inflation with a theory
that acheives many of the same successes in a framework that seems
compatible with string theory.
An important distinction between the ekpyrotic scenario and cosmic
inflation is that in the ekpyrotic scenario, the primordial nearly scale
invariant spectrum of quantum vacuum fluctuations, which is the seed
for all structure in the universe today, is generated in a contracting
universe, before the big crunch. In cosmic inflation they are generated
immediately before the big bang, in an expanding universe.
There are major outstanding problems with the ekpyrotic scenario.
Foremost among them is that colliding branes are not understood by
string theorists, and nobody knows if the scale invariant spectrum will
be destroyed by the big crunch, or even what happens when two branes
Moreover, like cosmic inflation, while the general character of the
forces (in the ekpyrotic scenario, a force between branes) required to
create the vacuum fluctuations is known, there is no candidate from
Moreover, the scenario uses some essential ideas from string theory,
principally extra dimensions, branes and orbifolds. String theory itself
is a controversial idea in the physics community. Detractors of the
original ekpyrotic scenario point out that it requires fine-tuned nearly
supersymmetric initial conditions, and thus replaced the problems
solved by cosmic inflation with a new set of problems. The original
scenario has been supplanted by a new more flexible and successful set
of ideas, embodied in the cyclic model.
Despite these disputes, the ekpyrotic scenario has received considerable
attention in the astrophysical and particle physics communities.
Regardless of whether it is a correct model of the origin of the
universe, it is an excellent indication of the new possibilities opened
up by the development of brane cosmology.
Many cultures have stories describing the origin of the
world, which may be roughly grouped into common types. In one type of
story, the world is born from a world egg; such stories include the
Finnish epic poem Kalevala, the Chinese story of Pangu or the Indian
In related stories, the creation idea is caused by a single entity
emanating or producing something by him- or herself, as in the Tibetan
Buddhism concept of Adi-Buddha, the ancient Greek story of Gaia (Mother
Earth), the Aztec goddess Coatlicue myth, the ancient Egyptian god Atum
story, or the Genesis creation narrative.
In another type of story, the world is created from the union of male
and female deities, as in the Maori story of Rangi and Papa.
In other stories, the universe is created by crafting it from
pre-existing materials, such as the corpse of a dead god — as from
Tiamat in the Babylonian epic Enuma Elish or from the giant Ymir in
Norse mythology – or from chaotic materials, as in Izanagi and Izanami
in Japanese mythology. In other stories, the universe emanates from fundamental principles,
such as Brahman and Prakrti, or the yin and yang of the Tao.
The Beginning of the Universe
How did Our Universe Begin?
to the Big Bang model, the universe, originally in an extremely hot and
dense state that expanded rapidly, has since cooled by expanding to the
present diluted state, and continues to expand today.
Based on the best available measurements as of 2010, the original state
of the universe existed around 13.7 billion years ago, which is often
referred to as the time when the Big Bang occurred.
The theory is the most comprehensive and accurate explanation supported
by scientific evidence and observations. Georges Lemaître proposed what
became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe,
although he called it his "hypothesis of the primeval atom".
The framework for the model relies on Albert Einstein's general
relativity and on simplifying assumptions (such as homogeneity and
isotropy of space).
The governing equations had been formulated by Alexander Friedmann.
After Edwin Hubble discovered in 1929 that the distances to far away
galaxies were generally proportional to their redshifts, as suggested by
Lemaître in 1927, this observation was taken to indicate that all very
distant galaxies and clusters have an apparent velocity directly away
from our vantage point: the farther away, the higher the apparent
If the distance between galaxy clusters is increasing today, everything
must have been closer together in the past. This idea has been
considered in detail back in time to extreme densities and temperatures,
and large particle accelerators have been built to experiment on and
test such conditions, resulting in significant confirmation of the
theory, but these accelerators have limited capabilities to probe into
such high energy regimes.
Without any evidence associated with the earliest instant of the
expansion, the Big Bang theory cannot and does not provide any
explanation for such an initial condition; rather, it describes and
explains the general evolution of the universe since that instant.
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space.
Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature. Scientific observation of earlier stages in the development of the Universe, which can be seen at great distances, suggests that the Universe has been governed by the same physical laws and constants throughout most of its extent and history.
There are various multiverse theories, in which physicists have suggested that our universe is one among many universes that likewise exist.
Current interpretations of astronomical observations indicate that the age of the universe is 13.75 ± 0.17 billion years, and that the diameter of the observable universe is at least 93 billion light years or 8.80×1026 metres.
According to general relativity, space can expand faster than the speed of light, although we can view only a small portion of the universe due to the limitation imposed by light speed. Since we cannot observe space beyond the limitations of light (or any electromagnetic radiation), it is uncertain whether the size of the universe is finite or infinite.
So, how did the universe begin?
No one truly knows. But there are theories.
- Universe Always Existed (Infinity State)
state that there is no beginning or end to the universe. The universe
is a state that has always existed. This theory is not supported very
much by the scientific community.
- Universe is a Living Entity (Biological Universe)
theory views the universe as basically a physical entity that is born
and then dies. This theory is easier for the human mind to comprehend
since all living creatures are born and then die, but again this raises
the question to what or who created the universe. This theory is not widely supported.
- Another Universe Created our Universe (Parallel Universe or Multiverse)
Certain individuals believe that our universe was created from another universe or a parallel universe. A multiverse of a somewhat different kind has been envisaged within the multi-dimensional extension of string theory known as M-theory, also known as Membrane Theory. In M-theory our universe and others are created by collisions between p-branes in a space with 11 and 26 dimensions (the number of dimensions depends on the chirality of the observer) each universe takes the form of a D-brane.
Objects in each universe are essentially confined to the D-brane of their universe, but may be able to interact with other universes via gravity, a force which is not restricted to D-branes. This is unlike the universes in the "quantum multiverse", but both concepts can operate at the same time. This theory is becoming more popular within the scientific community.
- Big Bang Theory (Early Development of the Universe)
theories claim that the universe began from the big
bang and inflation, but what created this event is currently unknown.
This theory is widely supported by the scientific community. Scientists
are currently looking more into dark energy which may shed
some more light on the big bang theory.
One fact that is known is that
the amount of energy that would be required for such an event would be
enormous and if we believe that there was nothing to begin with in the
universe then where this energy source originated from is unknown and
logically it would mean that this energy source did not originate from
If this is the case then it would be logical to assume
that there are other dimensions that exist or what is called a
multiverse. This would mean that there are multiple universes that exist
The amount of energy required to create this universe would be tremendous. Currently, the existence of our universe cannot be fully explained by science and in all honestly, it will probably never be fully explained by science.
Logically, since it would appear that the universe has an age, this would mean that it had a beginning. Therefore, the theory that the universe always existed is not logical.
The theory that the universe is a physical entity is possible but there is no proof of this. And even if the universe was a physical entity, it still would have to have been created by something.
Another theory that has been brought to the table is that you cannot explain the beginning since time and space did not even exist, therefore there was no beginning since time did not exist. How can we measure something when time didn't even exist in the first place? While this may be true, it appears illogical in some forms. Time as we may know it may not have existed but to assume that there was no time-measure as a whole appears to be illogical.
Currently, it would appear that the Big Bang theory is the most logical theory. But this still does not answer the question to what created the Big Bang. Sciences best theory would be that our universe was created from another universe. While there appears to be some evidence that there are multiple universes in our reality, this would still create an issue. Even if a universe could be born from another universe there was still an initial universe. What created the very first universe? It all comes down to the chicken and the egg question. How can the very first object be created from nothing?
The Programmer (aka God)
In reality, science has a very limited knowledge of this topic. There is much evidence which would attribute the creation of the universe to the Big Bang, but what occurred before the event of the Big Bang is unknown. Although science may disagree with the following, it would appear that the universe was created by a 'higher power'. A programmer, if you will. This program that is running is exactly what science is recording and observing.
This may seem like a strange statement or something from a science fiction movie like the matrix but if we actually think about reality as a whole and our surroundings it is possible that everything around us is actually a program running.
Much like the popular operating system Windows which was created by Microsoft, it is very likely that everything around you at this very moment is a program. Windows had a creator, it did not just magically appear.
A group of people got together and created the Windows operating system. To assume that everything around us was created purely by chance is highly unlikely. There is a code, data, information, what we call science, a program. This program was created by "a higher power". If we remove this possibility of a higher power, then we are left with the following statement: It
would appear that the universe began from nothing.
Logically, something cannot be created from nothing. At least not how we understand things. (This type of thinking may be the problem of understanding the answer — time did not exist before the universe was created and without time then you do not have a beginning or an ending. This concept is extremely difficult for humans to comprehend since we live within the universe which has time. Outside of the universe there is probably no rule as time and therefore time as we know it would stand still.)
Even if this is the case, we still have another problem. What created the programmer? Honestly, it never ends...
It is as if the question is answered in an infinite loop much like a circle, there is no beginning and there is no ending. But the problem is we have evidence that there was a beginning.
The human brain will probably never be able to answer this question because it may be impossible to answer completely or it may be near-impossible for the human brain to fully comprehend the answer. For some, the most logical answer is that an entity (a programmer aka God) created this universe but how this entity came to be is unknown.
Maybe in this particular case it is not logical to assume that this entity had a beginning. The programmer always existed. If we think logically with the limitations of our human brains we come to the conclusions that there is always a beginning and an ending. This is the problem. Since to begin from nothing, you need something. And this limitation means you cannot begin from nothing.
Which would mean you could never have a beginning. Which would then mean that everything which exists around us should not exist, yet it does. Therefore it may be logical to assume that the programmer or programmers always existed.
There are many theories and possible answers to how the universe was
created. There are much more questions than answers. In reality we as a
human species know very little of what is around us. We have hardly
scratched the surface. The questions outweigh the answers by an
astronomical number. Why was our universe created? By who and how? It
would appear we know the answer to when and possibly where. And finally, what is
These questions will most likely never be fully answered properly because the answers and truths may be so complicated for the human brain to fully understand. Trying to figure out all the secrets about the universe may remind us of a famous quote by Albert Einstein: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source
of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can
no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes
Will we ever have all the answer? No.
But there may come a day when we will better understand our universe and how it was born.