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September 2000
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Which Came First?

There has been some discussion in this venue of that ancient question, which came first - the chicken or the chicken egg. The answer is quite simple.

A chicken, by definition, is a bird hatched from a chicken egg.
A chicken egg, by definition, is an egg laid by a chicken.

It follows immediately that there can have been no first chicken nor any first chicken egg. Ergo, if there is a chicken today, there have always been chickens and chicken eggs in the past. It can be shown that there was a time in the past when there were no chickens. It follows that there is not now, never has been, and never will be such a thing as a chicken or a chicken egg.


Some persons, in response to my article on chickens and chicken eggs, argued that the solution to the paradox lay in evolution, that there was at some point in the past a bird which was not a chicken but which laid an egg from which a chicken hatched. This is all very well (although I am obliged to point out that no one has ever produced this hypothetical non-chicken who had a chicken chick) but there are difficulties with "populational thinking" upon which the evolutionary argument rests.

Since chickens seem to arouse an untoward emotional response in some of my readers I will take for my example the large mouthed bass. The principles are exactly the same and, I hope, there is less emotional involvement with large mouthed bass than there seems to be with chickens.

Consider a population of large mouthed bass. How can we tell if a particular fish is a large mouthed bass. According to the biological species concept it is a large mouthed bass if it can reproduce with other large mouthed bass. (This may be against the law in certain Southern states.) Suppose, however, that the particular fish that we are curious about is sterile. Are we then entitled to say that it is not a large mouthed bass? Perhaps so by the biological species concept and yet the state game and fisheries department will disagree with us.

An earnest evolutionist might point out that said fish (fish have no money whence the expression 'poor fish') had parents that evidently could reproduce. Since the parents were large mouthed bass the offspring was also. And yet this will not do for the evolutionist will with no apparent shame admit and proclaim that if we follow the chain of ancestry back we will find in the ancestral chain a fish which is not a large mouthed bass. We do not know what sort of fish this hypothetical non-large-mouthed bass (do you notice the lack of documentation on these hypothetical ancestors) so we may as well call it a medium mouthed bass. Would it do to say that large mouthed bass always produce large mouthed bass as offspring whereas medium mouthed bass sometimes produce large mouthed bass. Not at all; the same evolutionist who suggested the transition from the medium mouthed bass expects that the large mouthed bass will evolve into something, probably a very large mouthed bass. (I anticpate that some will appear immediately.)

The problem is that membership of an organism in a population is determined, not by its own characteristics, but rather by its relationship to other members of the supposed population. At no time is any specific bass identified as a large mouthed bass on its own merits.

Evidently we have here a problem in definition. There are three major modes of definition - intension, extension, and recursion. To define the large mouthed bass by intension we must determine a set of characteristics by which large mouthed bass and only large mouthed bass have. As the evolutionists will assure us, no such definition is possible - in the history of bass the line between the medium mouthed bass and the large mouthed bass is indistinguishable. In a definition by extension we list all bass, past and present, that are large mouthed bass by definition. This evidently fails because it does not account for future large mouthed bass which, if experience is any guide, will appear with great readiness.

There remains only definition by recursion. Here some individuals are declared large mouthed bass by fiat (Fiat was the minister of definition in Italy) and the remainder are determined to be large mouthed bass by dint of a recursive relationship - in this case the ancestor/descendent relationship. This, too, fails or so the evolutionist assures us, for the traits are not necessarily preserved by the relationship.

In short, since the existence of large mouthed bass is ineluctable, the possiblity of evolution has been disproved by definition.


This page was last updated September 3, 2000.

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