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The Chicken and Egg Paradox

By James Donahue

The natural world we share is filled with unexplained mysteries, or as some would call them, paradoxes. Probably the most famous paradox is the question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Indeed, it takes the bird to produce the egg, and it takes the egg to produce the bird. Great minds have pondered this issue for centuries without finding a solution beyond the religious creation theory; that an external God made both chickens and eggs at the same moment.

Scientists cannot accept the magical creation story, and thus the debate goes on.

Research into the DNA of life led to a theory that there also exists something called RNA, a chain of nucleotides present in all life cells. The theory is that RNA plays a critical role in helping DNA copy genes and genetic material. It is a complicated and as yet unproven idea but some researchers believe RNA might help answer the chicken and egg paradox.

An answer to this dilemma was given by a Buddhist monk named Ven Nagasena about 2,000 years ago. He drew a circle in the dirt and asked if there was an end to the circle. Of course the answer was no. The monk then asked if the earliest point of time could be shown or explained. Again the answer was no, it could not be shown.

What the monk was trying to demonstrate with his simple drawing was that the answer is neither and both. We have a chicken inside an egg. And the egg is inside a chicken. This process, like time itself, continues on into infinity.

Some philosophers suggest that the paradox gives us a glimpse of the infinite loop-hole of reality.