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Which came first?

dylancatlow
Posts: 12,255
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1/20/2014 3:00:55 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Langan: "Some people believe that children should be allowed to use
their minds as freely and imaginatively as possible, without
attention to the tedious laws of rationality. Others think that
a child is never too young to get his or her first dose of
logical and scientific reasoning. But in any case, a child with
the intellectual maturity to ask a question like "which came
first, the chicken or the egg?" is probably ready for a
valuable lesson in logic and biology"more of a lesson,
perhaps, than many of us are ready to give. This little essay
aims to change all that, and thereby protect you and your
pint-size inquisitors from the perils of ignorance (and
specifically, being recognized as an incurable case thereof!).
The question "which came first, the chicken or the
egg?" looks at first glance like a matter of straightforward
reproductive biology. But before we can even begin to
answer this question, we must define our terms. So actually,
it is a classic case of semantic ambiguity"a problem of
meaning and interpretation. Specifically, while the term
"chicken" is biologically unambiguous " we all know what a
chicken looks, sounds and tastes like - the term "egg" is
somewhat more general and is therefore a possible source of
ambiguity. Do we mean (1) just any egg, or (2) a chicken egg?
And if we"re talking about a chicken egg, then is a "chicken
egg" (2a) an egg laid by a chicken, (2b) an egg containing a
chicken, or (2c) both? Reformulating the question to reflect
each possible meaning of "egg" leads to four distinct
versions of the chicken-or-egg question.
1. Which came first, the chicken or (just any old) egg?
2a. Which came first, the chicken or an egg laid by a chicken?
2b. Which came first, the chicken or an egg containing a chicken?
2c. Which came first: the chicken, or an egg laid by and containing a chicken?
Contrary to popular belief, there is indeed a definite
answer to each of these questions. Specifically, the answers
are: (1) The egg. (2a) The chicken. (2b) The egg. (2c) The
chicken. Given some knowledge of logic and biology, these
answers are not hard to verify. To get this show on - or
should that be across? - the road, let"s go through them in
order.
First, consider question 1: which came first, the
chicken or (just any old) egg? This question is answered "the
egg" because species that lay eggs have been around a lot
longer than modern chickens. For example, we have plenty
of fossil evidence that dinosaurs laid eggs from which baby
dinosaurs hatched, and dinosaurs predate chickens by
millions of years. Indeed, a growing body of research
indicates that dinosaurs were among the biological ancestors
of chickens!
Now let"s look at question 2a: which came first, the
chicken or an egg laid by a chicken? The answer to this
question is "the chicken" on semantic grounds alone. That is,
if a chicken egg must be laid by a chicken, then before a
chicken egg can exist, there must by definition be a chicken
around to lay it. And question 2c - which came first, the
chicken or an egg laid by and containing a chicken? - is
answered the same way on the same grounds; logically, the
fact that a chicken egg must be laid by a chicken precedes
and therefore "dominates" the (biologically subsequent)
requirement that it contain a chicken. So whereas we needed
paleozoological evidence to answer question 1, questions 2a
and 2c require practically no biological knowledge at all!
Having saved the best for last, let us finally consider
the most interesting version, 2b: which came first, the
chicken or an egg containing a chicken? This version is
interesting because an egg containing a chicken might have
been laid by a chicken or a non-chicken, which of course
affects the answer. Thanks to modern genetic science, we can
now be sure that the egg came first. This is because
reproductive mutations separating a new species from its
progenitor generally occur in reproductive rather than
somatic DNA and are thus expressed in differences between
successive generations, but not in the parent organisms
themselves. While the somatic (body) cells of the parents "
e.g. wing cells, drumstick cells and wishbone cells - usually
contain only the DNA with which they were conceived, germ
(reproductive) cells like ova and spermatozoa contain non-
somatic DNA that may have been changed before or during
mating by accidental deletion, insertion, substitution,
duplication or translocation of nucleotide sequences. This is
what causes the mutation that results in the new species.
Where an animal qualifies as a member of a given
species only if its somatic DNA (as opposed to its
reproductive DNA) conforms to the genotype of the species,
the parents of the first member of a new species are not
members of that new species. At the same time, all the
biological evidence says that the ancestors of modern
chickens were already oviparous or egg-laying"that a male
and a female member of the ancestral species of the modern
chicken, call this species "protochicken", mated with each
other and created an egg. (Could the first chicken have
evolved from a viviparous or live-bearing species, and after
being born alive, have started laying eggs? All the biological
evidence says "no".) But because their act of mating
involved a shuffling of reproductive genes that were not
expressed in the body of either parent " if they had been
expressed there, the parents would themselves have been
members of the new species - the fetus inside the egg was
not like them. Instead, it was a mutant"a modern chicken!
Only two loose ends remain: the "gradual" and
"sudden" extremes of the evolutionary spectrum. These
extremes are evolutionary gradualism - Darwin"s original
slow-paced timetable for natural selection - and punctuated
evolution, as advocated more recently by evolutionary
theorists including the controversial Stephen J. Gould.
Gradualism says that mutations are biologically
random, but subject to a selection process determined by
environmental (external) conditions to which species must
adapt over the course of many generations. Taken to the
limit, it implies either that each minor mutation that occurs
during the evolutionary change of one species into another is
random and independent of any other mutation, in which
case a useful combination of mutations is highly improbable,
or that each individual mutation confers a selective
advantage on the mutant"that every evolutionary
advantage of a new species over its precursor decomposes
into smaller advantages combined in a more or less linear
way. Unfortunately, this makes it almost impossible to
explain complex biological structures that do not break
down into smaller structures useful in their own
right"structures like bacterial cilia and flagella, and even
the human eye.
The hypothetical gradualistic evolution of one species
into another via mutations accumulated over many
generations leads to the following question: when does the
quality and quantity of mutations justify a distinction
between "species""when does a protochicken become a
chicken? It"s a good question, but our chicken-or-egg
answers remain valid no matter how we answer it.
At the other extreme, evolution sometimes appears to
progress by leaps and bounds, moving directly from the old
to the new in "punctuated" fashion. And to complicate
matters, this sometimes seems to happen across the board,
affecting many species at once. The most oft-cited example
of punctuated evolution is the Cambrian Explosion. Whereas
sedimentary rocks that formed more than about 600 million
years ago are poor in fossils of multicellular organisms,
slightly younger rocks contain a profusion of such fossils
conforming to many different structural templates"...
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,255
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1/20/2014 3:01:24 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
"....templates. The duration of the so-called "explosion", a mere geological
eyeblink of no more than 10 million years or so, is
inconsistent with gradualism; new organs and appendages
must have been popping out faster than the environment
alone could have selected them from a field of random
mutations. Clearly, the sudden appearance of a new
appendage would leave little doubt about the evolutionary
demarcation of ancestral and descendant species.
But the kind of punctuated evolution that occurs
between generations is not the end of the line in sheer
biological acceleration. Sometimes, an evolutionary change
seems to occur within the lifespan of a single organism! For
example, in the spirit of "ontogeny recapitulates
phylogeny", insect metamorphosis almost seems to hint at
an evolutionary process in which an ancient grub or
caterpillar underwent a sudden transformation to something
with wings and an exoskeleton"or alternatively, in which a
hard-shelled flying bug suddenly gave birth to an egg
containing a soft and wormy larva. While that"s not what
really happened " as is so often the case, the truth lies
somewhere in the middle - what occurred was just as
marvelous and just as punctuated.
What seems to have happened was this. Due to a
reproductive mutation, a whole sequence of evolutionary
changes originally expressed in the fetal development of an
ancestral arthropod, and originally recapitulated within the
womb and egg it inhabited, were suddenly exposed to the
environment, or at least to the hive, in a case of "ovum
interruptus". A fetal stage of morphogenesis that formerly
occurred within womb and egg was interrupted when the
egg hatched "prematurely", making the soft fetus into an
equally soft larva and giving it a valuable opportunity to
seek crucial nourishment from external sources before being
enclosed in a pupa, a second egg-like casing from which it
later hatched again in its final exoskeletal form. So
metamorphosis turns out to be a case of biological common
sense, providing the fetus-cum-larva with an opportunity to
acquire the nourishment required for the energy-consuming
leap into adulthood.
Does this affect our answer to the chicken-or-egg
question? Not really. For even where the life cycle of an
organism includes distinct morphological stages, the DNA
of egg-laying insects does not change after conception. And
since it is reproductive and not somatic DNA modification
that distinguishes one species from the next in line, our
answers stand firm. (Of course, this says nothing of science
fiction movies in which something bizarre and insidious
causes runaway mutations in the somatic DNA of hapless
humans, causing them to evolve into monsters before our
very eyes! Such humans have either undergone a random or
radiation-induced "meta-mutation" whereby their genetic
code suddenly rearranged itself to incorporate a self-
modification routine that is executed somatically, within
their own cells, or they are the victims of a space virus which
inserted such a routine into their DNA for its own nefarious
purposes.)
OK"perhaps there"s yet another loose end. Asking
which of two things came first implies that time flows in a
straight line from past to future (those are the "loose ends").
But what if time were to flow in either direction, or even to
loop around, flowing in what amounts to a circle? No more
loose ends. In fact, loops have no ends at all! But in this case,
the answer depends on whether we"re on the forward or
reverse side of the loop, heading towards the future or the
past. Another way to formulate this question: does the cause
lead to the effect, or is there a sense in which the effect leads
to the cause? Suffice it to say that no matter which way we
choose to go, the original answers to the four versions (1, 2a,
2b and 2c) of the chicken-or-egg question are all affected the
same way. They are either all unchanged or all reversed,
with no additional ambiguity save that pertaining to the
direction of time (not a problem for most non-physicists and
non-cosmologists).
Now that we"ve tied up every last loose end, what
about the most important question of all, namely what to tell
a curious child? The answer: take your pick of versions.
Some kids will prefer the dinosaur angle of version 1; some
kids will prefer the "birds and bees" reproductive biology
lesson of version 2b. In my opinion, if we limit ourselves to
one version only, the most valuable explanation is probably
that of 2b; but due to its relative complexity, a younger child
can probably derive greater benefit from a T. Rex-versus-
Triceratops embellishment of version 1. To exhaust the
golden opportunities for logical and scientific instruction,
one should of course answer all four versions. But no matter
which way you go, make sure the child knows exactly which
version(s) of the question you"re answering. If you leave out
the one he or she had in mind, you"ll no doubt be egged on
until it gets answered!"
sadolite
Posts: 8,842
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1/20/2014 3:57:44 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
If evolution states that all living things on this planet came from a single self replicating organism then the chicken would have to have evolved first. So the chicken came first.
It's not your views that divide us, it's what you think my views should be that divides us.

If you think I will give up my rights and forsake social etiquette to make you "FEEL" better you are sadly mistaken

If liberal democrats would just stop shooting people gun violence would drop by 90%
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,255
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1/20/2014 4:02:08 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/20/2014 3:57:44 PM, sadolite wrote:
If evolution states that all living things on this planet came from a single self replicating organism then the chicken would have to have evolved first. So the chicken came first.

That makes absolutely no sense. Read the post please.
sadolite
Posts: 8,842
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1/20/2014 4:06:00 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/20/2014 4:02:08 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 1/20/2014 3:57:44 PM, sadolite wrote:
If evolution states that all living things on this planet came from a single self replicating organism then the chicken would have to have evolved first. So the chicken came first.

That makes absolutely no sense. Read the post please.

I read the first few paragraphs and commented on which came first, the chicken or the egg. I must admit that I don't know what you are driving at because I didn't read the whole thing. But as for the what came first? I am going with the chicken.
It's not your views that divide us, it's what you think my views should be that divides us.

If you think I will give up my rights and forsake social etiquette to make you "FEEL" better you are sadly mistaken

If liberal democrats would just stop shooting people gun violence would drop by 90%
Noumena
Posts: 6,047
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1/20/2014 4:06:34 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
The egg broz
: At 5/13/2014 7:05:20 PM, Crescendo wrote:
: The difference is that the gay movement is currently pushing their will on Churches, as shown in the link to gay marriage in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Inquisition ended several centuries ago.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,255
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1/20/2014 4:11:48 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/20/2014 4:06:00 PM, sadolite wrote:
At 1/20/2014 4:02:08 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 1/20/2014 3:57:44 PM, sadolite wrote:
If evolution states that all living things on this planet came from a single self replicating organism then the chicken would have to have evolved first. So the chicken came first.

That makes absolutely no sense. Read the post please.

I read the first few paragraphs and commented on which came first, the chicken or the egg. I must admit that I don't know what you are driving at because I didn't read the whole thing. But as for the what came first? I am going with the chicken.

"Chicken" is the correct answer under certain conditions. However, your reasoning makes no sense whatsoever. Implicit in the 'original organism' is not 'chicken'.
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,733
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1/20/2014 5:11:24 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Sadolite, your answer is correct but you are still wrong. Just remember that.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
sadolite
Posts: 8,842
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1/20/2014 6:48:52 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/20/2014 5:11:24 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Sadolite, your answer is correct but you are still wrong. Just remember that.

That's OK, I'm used to it. I'm married.
It's not your views that divide us, it's what you think my views should be that divides us.

If you think I will give up my rights and forsake social etiquette to make you "FEEL" better you are sadly mistaken

If liberal democrats would just stop shooting people gun violence would drop by 90%
ADreamOfLiberty
Posts: 1,570
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1/20/2014 7:21:17 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
The chicken sprang fully formed from the head of Zeus. Eggs on the other hand came from a mythical sky bird that existed since the dawn of time. Chickens steal them.

It's all rather absurd so best not to think about it.
LOL, yeah, it's pretty amazing how they think they can "reason" with you. - Sidewalker, speaking of advocates for sexual deviancy.

So, my advice, Liberty, is to go somewhere else. Leave, and never come back. - YYW

And that's what I did. Contact me at http://www.edeb8.com... by the same user name if you have anything you'd like to say.
AnDoctuir
Posts: 11,060
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1/24/2014 4:49:28 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/20/2014 6:48:52 PM, sadolite wrote:
At 1/20/2014 5:11:24 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Sadolite, your answer is correct but you are still wrong. Just remember that.

That's OK, I'm used to it. I'm married.

lol