Why did the chicken cross the road?

Warning: some of you regular posters are about to get roasted just a bit. I give (mostly half-hearted and largely insincere) apologies in advance, but you are about to have words put into your mouth. I did something similar to this on the ASA list serve many years ago and remember having a lot of fun with it. Hopefully you all take it in the vein intended –with a good hearty laugh at ourselves. I expect I may be roasted in turn –and if it stings a bit, I’ll soundly deserve it I’m sure. To the many of you who are regulars that I left out below, I’m sorry. I just started with those who made themselves the easiest targets first. Feel free to add, and if I get into trouble –complete with moderators storming onto the scene for damage control, I’ll understand.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Evolutionary creationist:
There is a perfectly reasonable natural explanation for it. It no doubt evolved to prefer crossing roads and achieved a greater reproductive success over non-road crossing chickens. So now genetics can explain why it is crossing the road. Oh – and God makes it all happen.

Old Earther / Concordist:
We think the fifth day is the key to understanding this. God created birds of the air, and it was commanded that birds should “multiply on the earth”. Now, chickens can’t fly – so if they are going to multiply, there must inevitably be some road-crossing involved.

I.D. enthusiast:
This situation could not arise naturally. The road is a sure sign that something monkeyed around with the whole scenario, so that there would even be a road for the chicken to cross.

Chickens were designed by God to commute wherever they need to go – especially if great need arises; and they have done this before … two-by-two, in fact. Are you sure it was alone?

anti-theistic materialist:
If the chicken’s road crossing involved anything nefarious or evil, we can be sure religion was behind it. Especially the theistic religions … well okay, I’ll just come out and say it: Christianity is almost certainly the culprit. But whatever superstitious religion is behind this, Science has the best chance of getting to the bottom of the matter.

Until we secure our road ways from these invaders we can never have a secure nation. I will build a wall and there will be no more chickens crossing roads and threatening our nation. We’re gonna shut them down!

Why do only 1% of all chickens ever get this opportunity? There is a deep inequity here people, and until we reign in corporate greed and bring these same privileges to all chickens, we will always have systemic problems.

J. Burke:
It didn’t.

There’s a great Harvard Physics department article about it here.

You really think that a chickens CROSS ROADS!!! Show me some EVIDENCE of this. There is NOTHING in the old testament that mentions ANYTHING about this. I’m just not seeing where you all can get that.

Where did you get the premise that there is any deliberation on the chicken’s part about this action? I can accept that there is an ontological necessity for a historical context in which, according to Aquinas…

… and half a dozen paragraphs later …

… which is why one shouldn’t prematurely exclude plausible, even well-warranted conclusions about the chicken’s road-crossing propensity.

R. Sawtelle:
Because of Greek influence, people have adopted a mistaken dualistic view of the chicken. But a chicken is much more than just feet and feathers. A chicken is also mind. And as such we see in the chicken a triune reflection of all of creation and finally of God’s self. The chicken, like God, is relational. Unless we rethink our modern philosophy, jettisoning its dualist foundations and see it in its triune context as I spell out in my book, we will never really understand why the chicken is crossing the road.

J. Garvey:
No chickens cross any roads at all apart from God’s complete sovereignty over every aspect of the situation. I can’t understand those who keep insisting on all this avian “autonomy” whatever that could possibly be. The great thinkers and church fathers of old have written clearly about this, and we can be sure that if any chicken crosses any road, then each and every crossing is part of God’s plan.

Christy H.:
Chicken dialects are very tricky. Is this a Cornish Hen? Rhode Island Red? White Leghorn? Some of the predicate phrases are conjugated very differently, and until we have studied this chicken’s language and have some cultural context in which to ground our translation, we can’t do more than speculate about its motivations.

Prof. Mom.:
This is a great field trip opportunity for home schoolers! And we can share resources about it with each other here; in fact it would be good to help plan. If anybody knows when and where the next chicken-road-crossing is scheduled, please post it for all of us. And if you have experience with home school groups who are not as open to all interpretations about the chicken phenomenon, let us know how you coped in your situation. If Biologos could share and host more resources over this, we would all benefit!

Deb Haarsma:
We here at Biologos realize that there are many different approaches to explaining why the chicken crossed the road, and we think that open and respectful conversation is important between all parties even when they strongly disagree with each other about the chicken and its actions. It is also important to remember that we should not question the Christian integrity of those who have sincerely arrived at different conclusions in this matter. But we do think it important to attend to everything that consensus science has to offer that may help explain the situation. And we see no reason why what we learn about the crossing chicken should be seen as threatening in any way to the authority of scriptures as we strive to properly understand both the chicken and God’s revealed word.


Thought provoking post. :wink:. It seems I do not see road crossing in chickens as frequently as in years past. Perhaps encounters with mechanized vehicles have limited the reproductive efficiency of those fowl that process the wandering gene.


Lampooning myself:


[Has nothing particularly useful to contribute to the conversation about chickens and roads, but clicks “Like,” because, you know, it’s a good question, and he wants to be an encouraging soul for people who put themselves out there with such bold questions on the forum.]

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Wait… Nothing for BioSemiosis? Surely he’s one of the more easily satirized among us… [grin]

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Great idea @Mervin_Bitikofer!

Ken Ham:
The chicken was miraculously created already being on the other side of the road. If you accept the authority of God’s Word, you shouldn’t believe that the chicken actually crossed the road through natural processes. Besides, were you there?

Richard Dawkins:
Actually the chicken didn’t choose to cross the road, but instead the selfish genes that control the chicken did so. Anyone who believes the chicken crossing the road had some higher purpose is completely delusional.



Maybe that can serve as a lampoon for both of us! Regarding BioSemiosis … feel free to come up with something and add it here. I probably missed a great many of our number here whose “signature style” should be capturable. Help me out!

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Maybe we could have added something like …

micro (not macro)-evolution acceptor:
Okay just because a couple photos show a chicken toward the far end of the road, and there appears to have been an inch or two movement between the photos, that doesn’t mean we can deduce that the same chicken traversed the entire road. All we see is a chicken on the same side of the road --and it is still the same chicken. Just because chickens can move small bits doesn’t mean they actually cross entire roads. Any chicken you allegedly saw on the other side of the road from this chicken was always an entirely different chicken.

Here are a couple I remember seeing in other venues…

this one could be for you Casper! (but attributed to Einstein originally):
Who is to say that the chicken is crossing the road? It is just as valid to conclude that the road is moving underneath the chicken.

Colonel Sanders:
I missed one?


So do you think pretty soon the joke will evolve into: “Why was the chicken afraid to cross the road”?

I had trouble thinking up some for J.Stump or Brad (… or any number of you all). Feel free to take creative liberties.

[comment deleted by moderator]

[comment deleted by moderator]


Unfortunately I had to delete some of the posts in this thread, and I split several off into a new thread entitled, “Mervin’s poor attempts at humor.” Please refer to my post, “Appropriate topics for discussion on the Forum,” which specifically forbids inflammatory topics unrelated to origins, such as same-sex marriage, abortion, and road-crossing chickens.


Don’t give Brad any ideas!

Still … good spoof. I hate to see any moderators left out. You had my heart beating a bit faster there for just a bit.

I’m glad this was just a spoof. It is a spoof --right? Brad, are you there? Brad? Brad? :fearful:


Oh, my. I laughed out loud when I read the Trump response. Really enjoyed it. Thanks.

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What if the chicken was really a self-replicating robot? Did it still cross the road, step-wise?


I’m literally crying right now, I’m laughing so hard. Well done, Y’all. :laughing:

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Just to get in on the fun:

Eddie: What frustrates me is that, even though I’ve asked hundreds of times, not one TE/EC leader has given me a straight answer to the question. What we get instead is discussion about the role of mating pressures and genetic drift in compelling said chicken to engage in this improbable behavior. And, of course, plenty of accusations that invoking a designer in getting the chicken across the road somehow diminishes God’s sovereignty (which also misrepresents the ID position, as I’ve also repeatedly pointed out). What’s missing is an exhaustive interaction with robust Christian theology pertaining to this question. Where are the articles systematically engaging with Augustine, Aquinas, Irenaus, Calvin, Kuyper, and Hodge on the subject of divine sovereignty and poultry behavior? Is this so hard to ask?

Jonathan_Burke: I think the best evidence points to the origin of this fanciful chicken story during the reign of the Babylonian King Marduk-apla-iddina II. Attached is an eye-catching infographic which explains why I’m definitely right, despite the fact that almost no serious scholar agrees with me.



Are you going to make your point or keep wasting my time?

“Vein” is a strange choice of words here, and I will now assume a broad set of motives behind it.

I have a hard time accepting your apology as sincere. [quote=“Mervin_Bitikofer, post:1, topic:5053”]
Why did the chicken cross the road?
Only someone who is laughably ignorant of the current trends in biology would ask such a silly question.

Hugh Ross: If you look very closely at the original Hebrew in 1 Kings 4:23, you can see that the Bible correctly predicted both modern studies of poultry behavior and the development of asphalt road surfaces, as well as automobiles.


Many TE chickens say this, and many TE chickens say that… The Behe (peace be unto him) will be attaching a designed flagellum to each chicken’s pygostyle.

Ted Davis:
We can trace poultry road traversal activity back at least as far as antebellum America and even far into the century before – at least in the new world. Benjamin Silliman was aware of certain entertainments of broad class-mixing appeal that included such things as boxing and cockfights. It was a hard life for the chicken in those days, and one easily imagines that not a small contingent of chickens may have emigrated in search of a better life. Those lifestyle habits do not just rapidly disappear and may help explain the unsettled and highly transitory status of poultry populations today.

Amish farmer:
Oh – so Penny got out again did she?!!

Normally my typos are when my ignorant fingers embarrass me by hammering out the wrong “there” or “their” even though I quiet well no the difference … but this typo I accidentally put in Bernie’s “quote” with its extra ‘g’ is quiet serious (and humerus). I’m surprised none of you caught it. I hope Bernie never makes a poster with a similar mistake, as it would change his message … just ever sew slightly!

Sorry that this gets away from the serious and scholarly subject at hand that we need to address.

Ted is nonplussed that Merv couldn’t do better than this, so he’s giving it a go:

The influence of chickens crossing roads on the history of the origins controversy is significant, though little known. Probably the most important example involves the work of Edward Hithcock: http://biologos.org/blogs/ted-davis-reading-the-book-of-nature/tracking-dinosaurs-and-finding-god

Hitchcock proved that the tracks later mistakenly identified as “dinosaur footprints” were in fact produced by enormous ancient chickens, who were so large that they actually stopped all traffic when they rambled onto highways or crossed roads. He further argued that the awe and wonder they instilled in onlookers constituted powerful evidence for the existence of an omnipotent Creator–and also evidence for the Creator’s benevolence, since he had created chickens so large that they feared not the occasional encounter with a tractor-trailer. They were in fact intelligently designed to eat the drivers of trucks exceeding the speed limit, thus keeping the whole order of nature safer for its organic inhabitants.