Islamic Wisdom

Chicken or the Egg Dilemma

in dialog with an Indian scientist.

 

The discussion enters into an interesting phase when the Indian scientist offers a circular reasoning similar to the ‘Chicken or the Egg problem’.



The chicken or the egg causality dilemma goes like this "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" We agree that chickens hatch from eggs. However, a mother chicken must keep an egg warm in order for it to hatch successfully. This mutual dependence causes ambiguity to decide as to which originally gave rise to the other. R1



Historically, the chicken or the egg problem has been perplexing to human mind for last 2500 years and still unresolved. Aristotle (384-322 BC) after spending much time on it concluded that both the bird and egg must have always existed:



"If there has been a first man he must have been born without father or mother -- which is repugnant to nature. For there could not have been a first egg to give a beginning to birds, or there should have been a first bird which gave a beginning to eggs; for a bird comes from an egg." The same he held good for all species, believing, with Plato, that everything before it appeared on earth had first its being in spirit.” R1



Quite naturally, the chicken or the egg problem has been translated to the problem of creation of man and even to the problem of creation of the world.



The only reason that this and similar problems are not resolved because humans have not unanimously accepted the ultimate truth of existence of one and only One Creator of this universe who created everything from nothing and without any help.

 

Islam and all other major religions including Christianity and Judaism, have at its foundation, the belief on the existence of only One unique Creator who created everything in the first place.

 

Imam Ja’far clearly explains in the following that the only way that this issue could be adequately resolved is by breaking this kind of circular reasoning and by believing on only One and only One Almighty and the Most Wise Creator.

 

Indian Scientist: However, I suspect that the tree may perhaps be the creator of 'Halila' due to the fact that 'Halila' is the product of Halila tree.

 

Imam Ja’far: Well, who made the tree then?


Indian Scientist:
It could be another Halila!

 

Imam Ja’far: What is the end result? Let us take Halilas and their trees to the end up until the very first Halila tree. Here you would have only two choices.

 

Either you have to admit that very first tree is created by God or that the chain of Halilas and their trees is infinite. If you adopt the second option, I would like to ask you a question.

 

Indian Scientist: Please ask.


Imam Ja’far:
Do you verify that unless and until Halila seed does not go underground and becomes extinct, a new tree does not grow out of it?

 

Indian Scientist: Yes, that is true.

 

Imam Ja’far: Thus, when Halila lose its existence, and the tree lives about a hundred years after the extinction of Halila, who takes care of the health and growth of this tree during this time period?

 

You have no explanation other than to say that it is the creator of the tree. It is because if you say Halila takes care of this tree during that time, it contradicts because of the assumption that Halila has already become extinct.

 

Indian Scientist: No. I don't say Halila is the care taker of this tree during this time period.

 

Imam Ja’far: It means you believe now the existence of God as the creator and designer. Are you still doubtful?

 

Indian Scientist: I need a break to think more about it.

 


 

References

 

1. Wikipedia, The free online encyclopaedia. See the link below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_chicken_or_the_egg

 

2. Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (`a): Reported by his companion Mufaddal ibn Umar al Jaufi and recorded by 'Allamah Majlisi (d. 1110 AH) in Bihar al Anwar vol 3 pages 153-196