We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chicken Genesis

Source: Wikipedia, "Chicken"
Where did the humble chicken come from "in the beginning"?  Science has held for some time now that chickens were probably first domesticated in Southeast Asia more than 5,000 years ago.  That's a long time!  But, then, there are a lot of chickens in the world today, as many as 24 billion according to the Wikipedia entry, "Chicken".  An international team of researchers has recently published a study entitled, "Investigating the Global Dispersal of Chickens in Prehistory Using Ancient Mitochondrial DNA Signatures," which seeks to clarify the spread of domestic chickens from Southeast Asia to the rest of the world by studying DNA samples from 48 "archeological chickens" (i.e. long dead ones).  The team's findings are very preliminary and mostly open doors for further study.  In any event, their study concludes that chickens: (1) were introduced into the Pacific at least twice in ancient times; (2) may have first been introduced into South America from Polynesia (not Europe!); (3) may have originated in Thailand as has been widely theorized, but the evidence is not clear and it may be difficult to ever determine the precise place of the first domestication of chickens; and (4) there seems to have been only one original center for the domestication of today's chickens.  (For a quick summary of the research see [here]).

Chickens are about as common a thing as there is in our world today, but we don't even know where they came from for sure and probably never will.  Does it matter?  Well, maybe not in the larger scheme of things, but then again if we want to understand how our world came to be as it is today the development and spread of such a common and useful life form may well contribute to our understanding of more significant things.

It is amazing how little we know about the world around us.  In an age when knowledge is growing exponentially, it can seem like we know a lot.  But, we really don't.  We're still just beginning to explore the wonderful reality around us.  Humility in large doses is our only due.  Amen.