Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Sunday, January 1, 2012

What Came First, The Chicken or the Egg?

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Everyone passes that question off as a metaphor for something that is unanswerable or maybe as a way out of a dilemma.  But, really…what did come first?  Something had to come first.  Without an egg, you can’t have a chicken.  But without a chicken, you can’t have an egg. 

It’s too easy to pass this off and avoid the real question. So think about it.

Let’s take another one that has always baffled me.  Butterflies are beautiful insects, but they were not always so beautiful. Before they went through flight training, they were each just hanging from a twig as a chrysalis, apparently doing nothing much.  Like teenagers hanging around the mall.

The chrysalis is the old outer skin of a caterpillar that falls off revealing a hard skin called a chrysalis. The entire process from egg to pupae to butterfly is called metamorphosis.

Moth pupa is contained in a protective silk case called a cocoon. There are differences. The chrysalis is a butterfly pupa. A cocoon is a silk case that moths, and sometimes other insects, spin around the pupa. But all of that is beside the point.

What bothers me about the process is how it started. If the first caterpillar got screwed up and let his ambition to fly get in the way of his intricate plan of designing the process, he would never get off the runway.  But even more puzzling is how the darn caterpillar got on that leaf in the first place.

Then I’m baffled by spiders. A spider needs a web. Willy, the world’s first spider, had to eat, but he couldn’t catch a fly. In fact, he couldn’t catch anything. That is…until he had an epiphany.  Wrong word.  Epiphany implies insight obtained through a divine inspiration of sorts, and we have to get the concept of a Creator out of this scientific inquiry.  Let’s just say old Willy had an “ah-ha!” moment.

This spider had a great idea.  He would build a web to catch insects to eat. Fantastic. But wait…he would have to have the physical organ necessary to produce the material for a web and the knowledge of how to make a web.  And it had better work. 

But if his mommy and daddy spider starved to death before they knew junior’s secret of building a web, how did junior come into the world with the specific mission to hang over our bed and scare the hell out of my wife? 

All of this is very humbling.  I must be stupid, because I tend to think I’m smarter than a caterpillar, but the only way I can figure out how to fly is to buy a plane ticket.

It’s these kinds of things that make me wonder how any one of them could happen gradually over a long period of time.  Wouldn’t all of these skills have to work perfectly the first time they were tried?  Help me out. With all of our combined brain power, human beings should be smarter than an insect...or even a chicken.

If someone doesn’t enlighten me, I’ll just have to fall back on a very politically incorrect explanation. At this point in my ignorance, it’s the only one that makes sense.


  1. Your "deep" thoughts raised some simple thoughts in my simple mind!

    When Noah took 2 of every living creature onto the ark did he take a female and a male moth?

    Where did the male & female rattlesnakes spend their days and nights?

    Did he tale a rooster and a hen or did he take 2 eggs and hope they were of the opposite sex?

    How do you convince a male & female alligator to get on board?

    I know my thoughts are quite "shallow" but no one is paying me to be a brilliant intellect!

  2. Ed -
    I'm still unhappy that mosquitoes, fleas, and black widow spiders made it on board. Or did they...?