The recurring challenge in the evolutionary community revolves around which came first—the egg or the chicken? Creationists, using the Scriptures as our foundation, see the chicken as being created first, followed by egg production. But there are serious problems on the secular side.
Replication is regarded as a characteristic feature of living cells, and in no known organism can it take place without the involvement of both nucleic acids and proteins. This interdependence between nucleic acids and proteins gives rise to what has been called the "chicken and egg" problem: in evolutionary terms, which of the two came first, or could they have evolved together? From the early days of the debate there has been disagreements: Haldane believed the gene had primacy, whereas Oparin considered the process to have been more interactive. Even today, the answer is by no means obvious.1
In 1996 biochemist Michael Behe published a blockbuster entitled Darwin's Black Box. The crux of this fascinating book is that life—seen specifically in the single cell (i.e., Darwin's "black box")—is enormously intricate, having what Behe calls "irreducible complexity." He discusses, for example, the biochemistry of vision and blood clotting—showing a sophisticated cascade of biochemical events—each dependent on the previous reaction. Behe uses an analogy of a mousetrap showing that all parts must be present and functioning in order to catch the mouse. Just so, all compounds must be in place and functioning in our cells so that we may see and that our blood will clot, not to mention a myriad of other functions.
As expected, the evolutionary community panned Behe's book. But with all their vitriol Behe's basic premise not only stands, but has been unintentionally "updated" by two evolutionists in a prestigious publication:
Domain shuffling aside, it remains a mystery how the undirected process of mutation, combined with natural selection, has resulted in the creation of thousands of new proteins with extraordinarily diverse and well-optimized functions. This problem is particularly acute for tightly integrated molecular systems that consist of many interacting parts, such as ligands, receptors, and the downstream regulatory factors with which they interact. In these systems it is not clear how a new function for any protein might be selected for unless the other members of the complex are already present, creating a molecular version of the ancient evolutionary riddle of the chicken and the egg.2
Riddle indeed! This riddle of life can only be solved by the Creator of life.
1. Palmer, Controversy—Catastrophism & Evolution, Kluwer Academic, 1999, p. 266.
2. Thornton and DeSalle, Genomics meets phylogenetics, Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, 2000, p. 64.
Cite this article: Frank Sherwin, M.A. 2002. The Egg/Chicken Conundrum. Acts & Facts. 31 (5).