Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The question is sometimes asked to highlight the folly of circular reasoning. But it has also hatched profound discussions for generations on the dilemma of causality. How could we have an egg if we did not have a chicken to lay the egg? But how could we have a chicken to lay the egg if there was no egg from which the chicken came in the first place?

Evolutionists often suggest that a technical answer to the question is that there was some egg laying species that predates the chicken. Through evolutionary processes involving sexual reproduction over many generations, an egg was finally laid which gave hatch to what we know as the chicken. The answer is therefore obvious: the egg came first.

Creationists often answer the question very directly and simply: the chicken came first. After all, God created the birds of the air on the fifth day of creation. They then laid eggs which hatched more chickens.

But, the biblical answer is better than either, as my friend Kit Swartz once showed me.

We are told in Genesis 1:11-13 that on the third day of creation:

“God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.”

Notice that the plants and trees bore seed and fruit containing seed. God spoke and it was so, in one day.

God’s account of his work on the fifth day is parallel:

“And God said, ‘Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.’ So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day” (Genesis 1:20-23).

Just as God created mature plants that were already bearing their seed, so we see that the mature birds he created were ready to reproduce, that is, they were bearing their seed. Now we are ready to answer the age-old question:

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

The answer? “Both: The chicken, with the egg in it.”

Now, if we could just get a little help on that other age-old question: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

All Scripture quotations taken from the English Standard Version.

3 Comments

  1. Wendy Brant February 15, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    Why did the chicken cross the road?
    Hamlet: “That is not the question.”

    The Chicken produced the egg. Until the egg appeared, how would anyone know it was in the chicken?

    • James Faris February 16, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      Thanks, Wendy!

      I’m no biologist, but my understanding is that in chickens (like most mammals), the female body contains all of the eggs she will bear in life from the beginning. Because God created the mature female bird, we know that the egg was in the chicken, even if it existed only at the cellular level. Granted, to Adam’s naked eye there was no obvious egg until it was laid. But that does not change the reality of the egg’s original presence. The point is that the Creator gloriously created birds ready to reproduce, ex nihilo.

      On interesting difference, however, between the plants and animals is that the plants were bearing fruit as only fertilized plants could do, but there is no record of expectant animals. We only see that they were commanded to be fruitful and multiply. It all made for a fascinating after-dinner discussion at our table a few evenings ago.

  2. Dana Demeris March 16, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    Chicken as a meat has been depicted in Babylonian carvings from around 600 BC.[3] Chicken was one of the most common meats available in the Middle Ages. It was widely believed to be easily digested and considered to be one of the most neutral foodstuff.`

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