Great moments in pedantry: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

This debate is partly about semantics, and partly about the fact that evolution is more like a curve than a stair-step.


  1. “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  First I ate the chicken, and then I ate his leg.” -Beastie Boys

  2. For a long time this has seemed like a dumb question to me.

    Of course it’s the egg, on two counts:

    1, in the first place, eggs have been around a hell of a lot longer than chickens.

    2, if you grant the question refers to a chicken egg, then regardless of the arbitrariness of the descriptor, at some point there must have been a first chicken, ie something that only just conforms to the relevant criteria. The egg it hatched from isn’t from a chicken, but since it contained a chicken, it has to be a chicken egg.

    1. Exactly. This particular “paradox” has always seemed silly to me, mainly for reason #2.

      It’s right up there with “toilet seat up or down?” Duh. Neither…you put the seat and the lid down, so you don’t accidently drop something into the bowl, and so your dog doesn’t go drink from it and then give you a big wet toilet-soaked kiss.

  3. Years ago a friend explained it to me like this:  
    If you accept evolution, the egg.  
    If you believe the Bible’s creation story, the chicken.

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