Chicken and egg problem

Chicken or egg
A 2013 AsapSCIENCE video depiction of the chicken and egg problem, which depicts the question: which came first the chicken or the egg? [3]
In queries, chicken and egg problem, or chicken or egg puzzle (or paradox), refers to the perennial question “which came first the chicken or the egg?”

In c.90AD, Plutarch, essay "Table Talk", from his collected works Moralia, commented on the chicken and egg paradox; specifically, one speaker says with a laugh: [1]

“Moreover, I'll sing to the knowers' the sacred Oprhic discourse that not only makes the egg prior to the chicken but comprehensively attributes to it absolute priority over all things let the rest of that remain in science (as Herodotus says), because it is reserved for the initiate, but the fact remains that the world contains a vast range of living creatures, but every class of them participates in generation from an egg.”

The mention of the riddle as a "sacred Oprhic discourse", however, attributes the puzzle to an earlier source; possibly tracing to the ancient Egyptian myth of the primordial mound and the cosmic egg, a creation theory originating in the city of Hermopolis (c.2600 BC).

In 1909, William Ritter, “Life From the Biologist’s Standpoint”, wherein he digresses on the chicken and the egg problem, Herbert Spencer’s views on whether life or organization came first, then ventures into chemistry discussion, during which time he tackles the so-called mind-body problem with the following hypothesis: [2]

“Since we know absolutely nothing about the relation of the atoms in living substance, would it not be a reasonable hypothesis to say that the nature of that marvelous process called metabolism is due to just the fact that the atoms of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, etc., are undergoing perpetual change of valence? I see no reason why we may not legitimately imagine even consciousness due to such a process. Were such a hypothesis to be seriously taken, it would seem to follow that consciousness would have its roots wherever metabolism is going on. What an excellent starting point this would make for dealing with the perennial puzzle of how it is that the ‘mind influences the body’! The mind would then be part of the body.”

Here we see Ritter breaking the problem down into the reduced form of atoms and valence change; he goes on to argue that there is no actual beginning of life in time position, aka the no origin theory of life argument.

In 2008, Libb Thims, when the Q&A voting forum was active, ventured a digression into the problem, from the molecular evolution table and reaction mechanism point of view; explaining chicken reproduction as a double displacement reaction, visually (Ѻ) shown below: [1]

Chicken reproduction mechanism
This, in mechanism overview, is an A + B → C type of reaction, as follows:

Hen + Rooster → New Chicken

The sexual reaction mechanism, in more detail, reduces, in step by step mechanism to a double displacement reaction, of the following general form:

AB + CD → AC + BD

where AC is the encounter complex of the hen and rooster following the courtship dance of the make, and BD is the joining of the two sperm cells G1 (sperm) and G2 (egg), which following incubation becomes a new motile chicken , BD (or chick C shown above). Using this model, one can trace the mechanism back to the formation of the first hydrogen atoms in the universe following the cooling of the big bang, during the inflation period:

H + H → H2

In this sense, hydrogen were chickens who came first, although the problem reduces to a bound state (chicken) to transition state (encounter complex / egg) to bound state (chicken), etc., ad infinitum back to the big bang, and whatever was before that. Alternatively, one can trace the problem back further to fermion and boson components, wherein the question looses definitiveness.

The following are related quotes:

“Much of present-day biological knowledge is ideological. A key symptom of ideological thinking is the explanation that has no implications and cannot be tested. I call such logical dead ends antitheories because they have exactly the opposite effect of real theories: they stop thinking rather than stimulate it. Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause!”
Robert Laughlin (2005), A Different Universe (pgs. 168-69); cited (Ѻ) by William Dembski , 2005

“If you find an egg in your refrigerator, you're not surprised. You don't say, ‘Wow, that's a low-entropy configuration. That's unusual,’ because you know that the egg is not alone in the universe. It came out of a chicken, which is part of a farm, which is part of the biosphere, etc., etc. But with the universe, we don't have that appeal to make.”
Sean Carroll (c.2010) (Ѻ)

1. Thims, Libb. (2008). “Philosophy: Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?” (Ѻ) (2-pgs) (WB),, Dec. 15.
2. Ritter, William E. (1909). “Life from the Biologist’s Standpoint” (beginning of life, pg. 190), Popular Science Monthly, 75:174-90, Aug.
3. Anon. (2013). “Which Came First: the Chicken or the Egg?” (Ѻ), AsapSCIENCE, Jan 24.

External links
Chicken or the egg – Wikipedia.

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