Sunday, September 30, 2012

Analyzing the DubLi Xpress Gift Card Auction

Go to and click on the "Play Video" link for the Xpress auction.

The video describes a type of reverse auction in which you can buy "Gift Cards". Gift cards are vouchers worth a certain amount ($100, $200, etc.) from many different stores such as: Amazon, Disney, Starbucks and Macys.

It is even possible to purchase a Gift Card from Mastercard or American Express, in which case (I assume) the money is available on your credit card and can be used to purchase anything you like.

The Gift Cards are guaranteed to be sold at a discount because of the nature of the reverse auction.

As the video explains, there are a limited number of cards on auction, and potentially thousands of bidders for each card at any one time. You see the type of card being auctioned, for example: $100 Amazon Gift Card, but you do not see the current price when you enter the auction. Instead you have 2 buttons: "Show Price" and "Buy Now!".

A click on "Show Price" reveals the current price. Each time someone does this, the price goes down 20c. Anyone who is happy with the price can click on "Buy Now!" to purchase the card at the current price (but you must click at least once on "Show Price).

Each click on "Show Price" costs you one DubLi Credit. DubLi Credits have to be purchased beforehand, and cost 80c each.

Sound like a good deal? After all, in some cases you can get a 50% reduction for the cost of one credit (80c). Apparently thousands of people think so.

But, as we examine things a bit closer, a different picture arises. The problem is the, so-called, house advantage, which can be shown to be 75%. Compare this to American Roulette which has a house advantage of 5.26%.

To understand this, the first thing you have to know is that the Xpress auction is a game of chance. Your bets are the credits you spend, and when you click "Buy Now!", you win if your click is in before any of the other players trying to "win" the card. So, if 1000 people are bidding for a card, your chances of winning are 1 to 1000, assuming everyone uses the optimal strategy (more about this later).

Now if you have a chance of 1 in 1000 of winning, then to be absolutely fair, the payout should be 1000 to 1 (for betting $1 you should get $1000 if you win). But, this is never the case because then a Casino could never earn anything. The difference in odds to payout is called the house advantage. It means that, in the long run, this is the Casino's "sales margin", and since every Casino has expenses, everyone understands that this is necessary to make gambling a viable business.

But what about a house advantage of 75%?

Consider the following:

You walk into a casino and look over in amazement at the roulette table. Gathered around it are literally thousands of people, all madly placing bets in what looks something like a gold rush! You realize you must be missing some massive winning streak, and run over to join in!

You are about place a bet, but when you see the Roulette wheel you are shocked. Instead of the usual two green numbers, 0 and 00, the wheel has whopping 108 green numbers on it! The man next to you places a bet on red, and you ask him what the payout is. He looks baffled and says: "Red and black, pays 2 to 1 of course..."

What you are witnessing is a house advantage of 75%. Now, would you place a bet?

Well the scene described above is similar to what is happening at DubLi. From the illustration it is clear that a house advantage of 75% is so high that people would normally never place a bet. So the only reason I can think that people are playing is because they cannot see the wheel!

But how do we get the 75%?

Firstly, let me explain how to calculate the house advantage. You take the "fair" payout and subtract the actual payout, and then multiply this by the odds.

For example, in the case of the Roulette wheel with 28 numbers (18 black, 18 red, and 2 green), a fair payout is 38 to 1, because the odds are 1 to 38 (1/38). The actual payout is 36 to 1, so the difference is 2 (38/1 - 36/1). Now we multiply this by the odds and the result is 2/38 which is equal to 5.26%.

This reflects the fact that there are 2 ways of creating a house advantage: increase the odds with the same payout (which is what is done in roulette, where the odds are increased by adding green numbers but the payout remains the same, i.e. as if the green number were not on the wheel), or you can keep the same odds, and decrease the payout (this is what DubLi does).

So to figure out the house advantage for DubLi, we need to know the odds, and the actual payout.

We start by assuming that we have N DubLi members (you have to have a VIP membership subscription to be able to take part in an Xpress Auction) auctioning the same card. Now when calculating the house advantage we always assume that all players use the optimal strategy (if they don't, things just get worse!).

If all members are using the optimal strategy, then they are also using the same strategy, which in turn means that the odds of any member winning the card are the same as any other. So the odds of any member winning are simply 1 to N, in this case.

Now let us assume that the number of clicks on the "Show Price" button, before the card is won, is M. This means that the price of the card is reduced by M x 20 (20M) cents before it is purchased. So 20M cents is the amount the winning member actually wins (because he has to pay for the rest of the card).

Since all members are using the same strategy we can assume that all members will click the "Show Price" button the same number of times, on average, before they press the "Buy Now!" button. This means that each member pressed the "Show Price" button M/N times (M divided by N), including the winner. This means the winner is "in" for M/N x 80 (80M/N) cents. So we now know the payout. On a bet of 80M/N cents, DubLi pays out 20M cents, which means the payout is 20M to 80M/N, or (20M) / (80M/N) to 1 which is N/4 to 1, after simplification.

So the house advantage is: N/1 (fair payout at odds of 1:N) minus (N/4)/1 (actual payout) multiplied by 1/N (the odds).

And, (N/1 - (N/4)/1) x 1/N = (4N/4 - N/4)/N = (3N/4)/N = 3/4 = 75% QED!

Is this the same as a Roulette wheel with 108 green numbers? Lets check:

A Roulette wheel with 108 green numbers has a total of 144 numbers (18 black, 18 red, and 108 green), so a fair payout is 144 to 1. The actual payout is 36 to 1 so the difference is 144 - 36 = 108. The odds are 1 to 144, which we multiply by the payout difference to get 108/144 = 75%.

Now if that was all, that would be certainly be bad enough, but it gets worse!

Imagine a Casino that does not convert your chips to cash at the end of the day, but instead gives you a voucher for Starbucks! And imagine a Casino that does not let you place a bet until you have signed up for a monthly membership fee!

Well that's DubLi ... enjoy!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Search for God

The search for God has been explained using the following story:

A Philosopher, an Atheist, and a Theologian find themselves in a dark room and are told to find the black cat.

The Philosopher begins looking for the cat everywhere, stumbling around in the dark as he goes.

The Atheist, not being able to see the cat, says "the cat does not exist", and doesn't even start looking.

The Theologian simply claims "I have it!", leaving the others to wonder if that is true!

This amusing story appears to be a good illustration of the search for God, but it is incomplete, because the Theologian mentioned above could not be a Christian:

If a Christian were given the same task, he would simply call the cat and, if it exists, it would come to him!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A review of "Saving Darwin" by Karl Giberson

I bought this book because I was most interested in what would convince a genuine christian that evolution is true.

Giberson gives 3 reasons why he believes Intelligent Design (ID) fails:

1. Intelligent Design substitutes God for gaps in Science

This is a common argument, and goes like this:
  • Our past is full of people claiming God is responsible for this or that (something they don't understand), only to be proven later by advances in Science that there is a natural explanation.
  • ID is all about pointing out what the Theory of Evolution cannot explain (i.e. it identifies "gaps" and ascribes them to God).
  • But we have seen in the past that Scientific advance will eventually close the gaps, so this makes ID irrelevant.
So what is wrong with the reasoning:

It assumes that a negative cannot be proven. In other words, it assumes that we cannot prove that a gap will never be "filled" by a naturalistic explanation.

But mathematics and logic show that negatives can be proven (proof of the impossible). For example, Pythagoras proved that the square-root of 2 cannot be expressed as the ratio of two integers.

If we transfer this example to the ID/Evolution debate it would be like this:

The ID proponent says: you will never find a ratio of two integers that equal the square-root of 2.
The Evolutionist says: but we have not tried all integers yet.

The Evolutionist is missing that fact that it is possible to prove that something is impossible, and after this, trying to do so is just a waste of time.

Now lets look at a real ID argument:

The ID proponent says: you will never find a naturalistic explanation for DNA, because DNA is a code, and a code is a symbolic language that has meaning, and meaning is an abstract notion which requires an intelligent mind to create it.

The Evolutionist says (something like): but we have not looked at all possible chemical paths yet.

The ID argument above is true (!), and proves that looking for a naturalist explanation for DNA is a fruitless exercise. Unfortunately it looks like it will take most origin of life researchers many more years of frustration before they see the truth of this.

It is due to arguments such as the one above (and there are many), that I have no fear that the gaps identified by ID will be filled by Science sometime in the future.

2. Some things in nature are "cruel and barbaric"

This argument says that if all things in nature are designed by God, then so too are the cruel and barbaric parts, which in no way fit with a kind and loving God that is followed by ID proponents.

So ID supporters have "shot themselves in the foot".

This argument stems from the fact that Giberson believes that ID is just Creation Science in a "cheap tuxedo". This is where he is very wrong!

So this argument is easily dismissed by simply saying that the intelligence that ID hypothesizes is cruel and vindictive and likes to watch its creation suffer! For example, the Hindus have some Gods that would fit this description quite well.

In other words, since ID does not identify the intelligence, this argument is irrelevant!

3. Norene's Knees - Some things in nature are badly designed

I think this argument is well known enough that I need not explain it any further.

The argument from an ID perspective is also easily countered:

Something that is badly designed, still needs to be designed. In other words, even for a bad design, intelligence is still required!

Nothing more needs to be said about this argument. There is absolutely no reason why the Designer should build things to suite our idea of perfection.

The argument is irrelevant, just like the previous one.

Of course, as a Christian, arguments 2 and 3 above give pause for thought. However, they do not change the fact that ID has the arguments that prove that some things in nature must have been created by an intelligence.

And it really doesn't matter that I cannot square this entirely with my understanding of God, as revealed by scripture. So for better or worse, as a Christian I believe that the intelligence hypothesized by ID is the God of the Bible.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Did Jesus die for our Sickness?

For a correct understanding of healing and Isaiah 53:4-6:

The belief (referred to as "the belief" below) that God has already healed (in the sense that He has already forgiven our sins), and no longer needs to heal today, is incorrect because of a misunderstand of Isaiah 53:4-5 (see below).

1. Verse 53:4 "he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrow"

According to "the belief" this verse refers to the cross. This is not correct. The correct understanding of this verse is given to us by Matthew himself in Matthew 8:16-17 (see below)

By the context it is clear that Matthew means this verse refers to the actions of Jesus before the cross!

This also indicates how to understand the entire verse 4: the prophet is telling us how we can identify the Messiah. He would heal us and share our grief, but we would nevertheless be considered a false prophet.

2) Verse Isaiah 53:4 "with his stripes we are healed"

Because of a misunderstanding of verse 4 "the belief" holds that this phrase confirms that Jesus died for our sickness. It does not.

"with his stripes we are healed" does not refer to sickness. Here are the reasons:

2.1. "stripes" (see Hebrew below)

Jesus suffered stripes because, according to Deuteronomy 25:1-3 (see below), this is the punishment for sin. So the question is: is sickness a sin?

If not, then "with his stripes we are healed" cannot be referring to sickness. Sickness is not a sin and so phrase does not refer to sickness.

2.2. What does "with his stripes we are healed" refer to?

This is speaking of being healed from the disease of the soul called sin! In Mark 2:17 (see below) Jesus refers to the sinner as being sick, and being healed by repentance.

3. Verse 53:6 "We all, like sheep, have gone astray"

Both verse 4 and verse 6 provide the context in which we must understand verse 5 (we have already dealt with verse 4).

In verse 6 Isaiah explains the reason for the cross: because the sheep went astray, not because they were sick! So God laid our sin, not our sickness, on Jesus.

So by the above reasoning it is clear that Jesus did not suffer and die to heal our bodies. This was also not necessary. God has been healing since old testament times, and even raised people from the dead before Jesus died on the cross (1 Kings 17:22).

4. Further "common sense" reasons

4.1. The belief that God healed us (once and for all) on the cross does not make sense

Why would God put the healing of our bodies (something that is not eternal) on the same level as the healing of our soul, which is eternal?

4.2. The fact that we are not healed (in body) completely when we become Christians is obvious.

The belief asks us to suspend disbelief. This is an incorrect understanding of faith which is a trust in the presence of evidence, not blind belief in the face of contradicting facts.

5. But Jesus did die for our sickness!

Yes, indeed, it is not wrong to say that Jesus died to heal us! Just like one day we will be without sin, we will also be without sickness. This is the result of the cross. Why?

Through the fall, both sin and sickness came into the world. But note: the fall was a sin, not a sickness! So sickness came through sin. So the root of the problem is sin.

Jesus dealt with the root of the problem with his work on the cross. This makes it possible for God to forgive our sin, and remove all the results of sin, which includes sickness and natural disorder.


Isaiah 53:4-5 (King James Version)

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:4-5 (New International Version)

4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Matthew 8:16-17 (NIV)

16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.
17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases."

Deuteronomy 25:1-3 (NIV)

1 When men have a dispute, they are to take it to court and the judges will decide the case, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty.
2 If the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall make him lie down and have him flogged in his presence with the number of lashes his crime deserves,
3 but he must not give him more than forty lashes. If he is flogged more than that, your brother will be degraded in your eyes.

Mark 2:17 (NIV)

17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."


This article is largely a summary of the following text.

Hebrew meaning of "stripes": In Isaiah 53:4: "And with His stripes," the word used for "stripes," in the Hebrew, is "chaburah," Strong 2250. It is in the singular, and it literally means, "a bruise," the result of a blow on the skin (this was quoted from here).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Wise Old Father – A Parable and a Puzzle

A wise old father had many children, one of which is you.

When the time came for the children to leave the home and make their own way in the world, the father called his children together to speak to them.

He said:

"My children, because I love you I want to give you my blessing before you go out into the world. With this blessing comes both obligation and privilege. Your privilege will be that you can call on me at any time for help wherever you are, I will be there for you. Your obligation will be to live your lives us I have taught you since you were young".

"However, although I love you all, not all of you have been chosen to receive this blessing. Tonight while you are sleeping I will place an envelope next to your beds. In the envelope you will find a letter from me, written either on white or black paper. If the letter is written on white paper, then you will know that you are one of the few that I have chosen to receive my blessing. It grieves me to say this, but those whose letter is written on black paper, will have to leave without my blessing".

Although the wise old father had already chosen which children he would bless, he added the following:

"Now it is time to sleep. Tomorrow, before you leave each of you will pass my workshop door. If you wish to receive my blessing, just knock, and I will invite you in. If you do not wish to receive my blessing then just leave without knocking".

The next morning each of the children wake up to find an envelope beside their bed. Each of them wonder as they hold the envelope, trembling in their hands, if the letter is written on white or on black paper.

Now remember that you are one of the children:

Soon it is time to leave and you are standing in the line before your father's workshop, with all your belongings packed to go. As you get closer you can see others as they come to the door. Some just walk straight past and leave without looking back, and some stop and knock.

But most stand for a while before the door contemplating, the envelope in their hands. They seem to have difficulty deciding whether to open the envelope first, knock on the door, or just walk out. You notice that whenever someone knocks on the door, it is always opened, and they go inside.

But then, with horror you notice something else:

Whenever someone opens the envelope as they stand before the door, the letter is always black!

Soon enough it is your turn to decide. What do you do? Do you, knock at the workshop door, leave without knocking or open the envelope?


What does it all mean:

The wise old father is God (of course).

His children are all the people of the world.

The blessing that the father wishes to give is eternal life to those who are saved.

Those children that leave without the father's blessing are the children that suffer eternal death, always separated from the father.

The envelope represents God's election. The doctrine of election teaches us that God chooses those that would be saved before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4).

The door of the workshop is the door of which Jesus says: seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened (Mat 7:7).

The story illustrates the fact that God's election does not take from us the burden of choice.

Lets look a bit behind the scenes. We have already seen that whenever a child knocked on the door the door was opened. But what about the letter?

When the letter was opened in the father's workshop it was always found to be written on white paper. In a similar manner, all those that walked out without knocking found that their letter was written on black paper.

But what of those that opened the letter before knocking or leaving? The paper was always black. What does this mean? I will come back to this shortly.

Firstly how does this information help us to make our own personal decision as we stand before the door. We have 3 options: knock at the door, walk out without knocking or open the letter.

Well, we know that if we knock, the door will be opened. So if we love the father and want his blessing all we have to do is knock. In this case, the contents of the envelope is irrelevant. Nobody who knocks is rejected!

On the other hand, if I do not want the fathers blessing and do not want to following his instructions, then I can just walk out without knocking. Once again, the contents of the envelope is irrelevant. The father cannot and will not stop us from walking out.

But what about those that opened the envelope before knocking or leaving? Why were they always rejected by the father? Is that not unfair? This is what it's all about. We are now ready to accuse the father of gross unfairness. How could he choose some, and not the others?

But this is the key to the story:

There is no real life equivalent for this situation! It would mean that we could look into the mind of God: which we cannot!

So this leaves only 2 possibilities, both of which we have seen that contents of the envelope is irrelevant.

In a real sense of the word, we discover Gods election for us in how we make our decision. This fact is illustrated by the story.

And at the same time, it does not change that fact that every born again Christian has been specifically elected by God to this position. And, as hard as it a sounds, it means that others were not chosen.

Believe it or not, not just anyone can come to God! So, the question is. What about you? Are you one of the chosen ones?

If you have any doubt, do not despair, just knock at the door. The Bible tells us, it will always be opened!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Slow write, fast read lock

A "slow write/fast read" lock could be used to lock memory mapped files that need to be exclusive locked sometimes for resizing.

The lock works as follows:

- All threads have a flag indicating if the have a read lock.
- There is a global write lock flag which is protected by a mutex with a condition.

Reader thread:

- Set the read flag belonging to the caller thread
- Check the write flag, if set
* Unset read flag
* Lock mutex and wait for condition to be signaled.
* Unlock mutex
* On signal retry.
- Do read operations
- Unset read flag

Writer thread
- Obtain mutex
- Set the write flag
- Wait for all threads read flags to be unset
(this requires going through all threads once)
- Do write operation
- Unset write flag
- Signal mutex
- Unlock mutex

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Ultimate Boeing 747 Gambit that Backfires

Richard Dawkins is one of the most famous atheists of our time. The Ultimate Boeing 747 Gambit is from his latest book The GOD Delusion.

Dawkins introduces the "Ultimate Boeing 747 Gambit" as the "central argument of my book". He quotes Dan Dennett as calling it "an un-rebuttable refutation" of the existence of God, and adds "I have yet to hear a theologian give a convincing answer despite numerous opportunities and invitations".

The Boeing 747 allusion is from Fred Hoyle's famous argument against the probability of life spontaneously assembling itself on the primordial earth. According to Hoyle, the probability of life originating on Earth is no greater than the probability that a tornado, sweeping through a junkyard, would assemble a working Boeing 747 airliner. However, Dawkins turns the argument around, and concludes that any designer must be even more improbable:

"However statistically improbable the entity you seek to explain by invoking a designer, the designer himself has got to be at least as improbable. God is the Ultimate Boeing 747."

I will begin by showing the error in Dawkins' reasoning, and then go on to produce a positive proof of God myself.

Dawkins does not present the argument formally, but here it is extracted from the few sentences he actually devotes to the argument. Thanks to Rich Deem of for introductory paragraphs and the basis for Argument #1 and #2 below.

Argument #1:

Premise #1. Every existing entity that shows evidence of design requires a designer superior to itself.
Premise #2. If God exists, then God shows evidence of design in himself.
Conclusion #1. Hence God requires a designer (another God) superior to himself.

Argument #2:

Premise #3. Infinite regressions are not possible.
Premise #4. Conclusion #1 above implies an infinite regression (an infinite number of gods).
Conclusion #2. Hence, Conclusion #1 is not possible, hence Premise #2 is false, so God does not exist.

Although Dawkins does not believe that Premise #1 is true, he accepts it as such (for the purpose of the argument), assuming that this is a premise all theists would accept as true. Dawkins, on the other hand, believes that the design we see in nature and the universe is an illusion. In other words, these things looked designed but were not.

Now, given that theists believe Premise #1, Dawkins has proven that God does not exist. This is Dawkins ultimate proof which puts theists in a loose-loose situation. If they believe that things that look designed are really designed then there is no God, and if the don't believe that things that look designed are really designed (as Dawkins does), then there is no need for God!

However, Dawkins' argument hinges on the fact that theists must accept Premise #1 as stated.

The problem is, we don't!

Theists believe that Premise #1 is only true for contingent entities! In other words, Premise #1, as stated, is false. Instead it should be formulated as follows:

Premise #1. Every existing entity that shows evidence of design requires a designer superior to itself as long as that entity is contingent.

Now all entities are either contingent or necessary. A contingent entity is subject to another entity in a cause/effect relationship. A necessary entity is an affect without a cause.

It is possible to prove that at least one necessary entity must exist, if we accept that infinite regressions are not possible (Premise #3 above). By this argument the universe itself must be necessary because if it is not, then it would have been caused by another entity, which itself must be caused by another entity, leading to an infinite regression.

So since we know that the universe exists (by observation!) there must be at least one one necessary entity.

This means that the qualification, "as long as that entity is contingent", to Premise #1 above is valid. In other words, the distinction between contingent or necessary entities is real!

So we can now simply say that God is a necessary entity, and is therefore the argument falls flat because under these circumstances, Premise #1 as stated by Dawkins in Argument #1 is false, which means Premise #2 is free to remain true. In other words, God may exist, and may continue to appear designed (due to His obvious complexity) without vanishing in a poof of logic (as Douglas Adams would say - whom Dawkins so loves to quote!).

The concludes the rebuttal of Dawkins' "Ulitimate Boeing 747 Gambit". But we can go one step further and show that the gambit actually backfires.

The fact that God is the necessary entity raises the following question:

If there is at least one necessary entity, then why does it have to be God? Why could it not be the universe itself? In affect, we could pick anything, or any number of things to be the necessary entity/entities.

Lets look at some of the theories that have been proposed:

Proposal #1: The universe is the eternal necessary entity. Space and time have always existed. This is also known as the steady state model of the cosmos.

Proposal #2: The universe is ever exploding from a singularity and the crushing back to the singularity in an endless cycle. This is the "oscillating" variation of the steady state model.

Proposal #3: The universe came from a singularity that is eternal and necessary. At some point it exploded to become the universe as we know it.

Proposal #4: There is a God that has always existed and is the necessary entity. God created the universe, and everything in the universe is contingent, including the universe itself.

Proposal #5: God as we know him today is a necessary entity, but arose from a "God-singularity" long ago. The God-singularity was necessary though.

Proposal #6: Everything is necessary. For example, everything leapt into existence 10 minutes ago, fully formed, with memories and history perfectly in place. Contingent entities have only appeared in the last 10 minutes.

Proposal #7: There are multiple necessary God entities. One or more of them created the universe.

We observe that:

Proposal #1 has been ruled out by the Big Bang theory. With regard to Proposal #2, recent research shows that the universe is expanding faster which indicates that the universe only began once (this point is conceded by Dawkins).

Proposal #3 seams to be what Richard Dawkins believes.

Proposal #4 is the Christian theocratic point of view.

Proposals #5, #6 and #7 have been included for completeness. If we simple state that there must be at least one necessary entity, then they cannot be ruled out.

Now consider the following arguments:

Argument #3:

Fact #1. Time and space are indivisible. The General Theory of Relativity introduced the idea of the space-time continuum, which basically shows that it is not possible to have the one without the other.
Fact #2. The universe has a single beginning. The Big Bang Theory proves that our universe had a definite beginning as a singularity.
Conclusion #3. Space and time had a definite beginning, which coincides with the beginning of the universe.

Argument #4:

Fact #3. All contingency requires time except the beginning of time itself. This is due to the fact that cause and effect must be ordered, a cause must always proceed an effect.
Fact #4. Time began with the beginning of the universe (from Conclusion #3 above)
Conclusion #4. Contingency (except the beginning of time itself) began with the beginning of the universe.

This last conclusion allows us to eliminate Proposal #5, because it would require contingency before time began.

With regard to Proposal #6 consider the following:

A necessary entity can either be eternal or it came from nothing. If we accept that something can come from nothing then we must accept that, for all intents and purposes, it is indistinguishable from something that has been around forever. In other words, a necessary entity that came from nothing will look exactly like something that is eternal. At the same time, if we insist that such an entity came out of nothing then one might as well end the discussion immediately. There is no way that this can be contradicted or disproved. The best solution is to consider this an unreasonable point of view, and assume rather that the entity is eternal. Which it just as well could be, because we cannot tell the difference!

On this basis, Proposal #6, which suggests that the universe as we know it came from nothing, can be considered unreasonable.

A device called Occam's razor shaves away the additional Gods in Proposal #7: since one God is sufficient to create the universe, why hypothesize more than one?

This leaves Proposals #3 and #4. The difference between these proposal hinges on the one exception specified in Conclusion #3 above. Namely, that contingency began with the beginning of the universe, except for the beginning of time itself.

This means quite simply: time, may be contingent, but it may also be necessary.

Proposals #3 asserts that time is necessary (not contingent). In other words, time, as part of the singularity always existed. Note that this must also mean that the singularity occupied a bit of space (of course this is true, otherwise the singularity would, in fact, be nothing and we would have an unreasonable proposal on our hands, with the consequences as discussed above).

Proposals #4 means that time itself is contingent. But how can time be contingent when time itself is required for contingency? This is possible because any entity that has a beginning must come "after" an entity that has no beginning. So entities with a beginning can be caused by entities that are eternal. Which means it is quite possible that time is contingent to an eternal God as asserted by this proposal.

So Proposals #3 and #4 seem to face off in a draw. Both are possible. Or are they? Actually, Proposals #3 fails, but the concept is a bit tricky. Let me explain:

Proposals #3 actually states that time is eternal, and the singularity, of which time was part, was unchanged for an infinitely long time. But, at some point, the singularity changed. It suddenly exploded to become the universe.

So what is the problem with that? Well, the problem is, if something remains unchanged for an infinitely long time, then it will never change at all! This is because any part of infinity is still infinity. So if the part of time before the change was infinite, it still would not have happened today.

This is one of the reasons why the Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Because God is eternal, he cannot change. Its a package deal.

But, you say, how was it then possible for God, to create the universe at all? He has been around for eternity, so there must have been an eternity before he created the universe. So the universe should not ever have been created.

This is an attempt to apply the failure of Proposals #3 to Proposal #4! This argument, however, is invalid.

It assumes that God is subject to time. Only if God is subject to time, can there be an infinite amount of time before he creates the universe. But time was created along with the universe. God is eternal, but not in the sense of a "heck of a long time"! He is eternal and distinct from both time and space which he created.

Without the restriction of time, God is free to bring the universe into being (in fact, there is a sense in which the universe has always existed in God's mind!). Only in the moment that God created the singularity that exploded into the universe as we know it, did time actual take on meaning. But even, then God was/is still not subject to the time in this universe. He remains outside of time and space, able to intervene anywhere at anytime in the history of the universe (that is one reason why God can tell the future).

Finally, in conclusion:

I have disproved all alternatives to Proposal #4: There is a God that has always existed and is the necessary entity. God created the universe, and everything in the universe is contingent, including the universe itself.

This constitutes a proof for God and shows how Dawkins' original argument provided a basis for this proof.


P.S. There is only one way the atheist can counter this argument. He will have to say that the singularity that become the universe came from nothing! I have already argued that such a thing is unreasonable and indistinguishable from a singularity that has been around for eternity. The atheist will argue from a quantum physics point of view. In quantum it is actually possible for a particle to appear out of nowhere. The argument is that in a singularity, quantum principles may apply, although this is speculation.

The problem with this argument is that the particle is not really appearing out of nowhere. First of all, there is a loss of energy elsewhere that make the appearance of the particle possible (this is required by the laws of conservation of energy). Secondly, the particle is appearing in a pre-existing existing universe. This is really not the same as appearing from nothing!