Thursday, November 5, 2009

An Egg-and-Chicken Situation

I was reminded today that, while it's perfectly obvious to me that the egg came first, there are a lot of people that still aren't convinced. So, without further ado...

Initially, we can trivially say that all chickens were preceded by dinosaur eggs. This is no fun though, so I'll go ahead and strengthen the "paradox": which came first, the chicken or the chicken egg?

We define a creature as a "chicken" based on its DNA being sufficiently close to the modern species of chicken.

First, we take it as a given that any creature sufficiently chicken-like to be called one will have hatched from an egg. (Indeed, if a chicken-looking creature was born by some other means, we would probably not accept it as a chicken - and this is a proof in and of itself, albeit a less interesting one.) Thus, every chicken is preceded by at least one egg. However, this does not preclude an infinite cycle, which is the source of the paradox.

We next note that, because a chicken does not have the same DNA as either of its parents, and we're defining chicken-ness based on DNA, its possible that a chicken could be born where one or both of its parents are not-quite-chickens. Furthermore, I assert that, since there has been a point in time at which chickens did not exist, this must have happened at least once. If we consider that first chicken, it had the same chicken DNA when it was an egg, so it was in fact preceded by an egg. QED.


Kiriska said...

DUDE. I came to this conclusion ages and ages ago. I am glad you also came to this conclusion because it validates my own for some reason. AWESOME. *high five*

Æther said...

Your reasons are really rather oversimplified. I accept them, but it's really irrelevant what came first in the case of chickens. At any rate, it's worth mentioning that your argument hinges on how you define species, and there isn't one set system for that.

It's far more interesting when considering the first sexually reproducing organisms. I'll let you ponder that one before I tell you the most prominent theory (no cheating).

P. Static said...

Kiriska: :D

Æther: Yeah, I went straight for the definition of species that was the most specific - with DNA, you can come up with accurate numerical methods of comparison.

As for the first sexually-reproducing creatures, I'm sure that I'm not imaginative enough to think of something even close to what actually happened. XD