Rosa Rubicondior: “How did you arrive at the set of all things which don’t begin to exist, why did you exclude all possible natural causes from that set, and why did you restrict it to your preferred conclusion, namely a supernatural deity?”
Response: I answered this question a number of times. I suppose once more will not hurt. It begins with the law of cause and effect, namely that a cause must transcend the effect. The effect obviously did not exist prior to its’ existence. Therefore the cause must transcend it. Nothing within the cause can be contingent upon the effect.
If time had an absolute beginning, it follows that the cause of time must be timeless, or eternal, and not beginning to exist. So the same with nature. If nature had a cause beyond itself, it follows necessarily that cause must be beyond nature. That is the necessary criteria for any possible cause of space and time; it must transcend space, and transcend time. It is not necessarily restricted to my preferred conclusion, it is just a deduction.
Rosa Rubicondior: “Why should this not be regarded as an attempt to rig the debate so only your preferred conclusion was possible?
This is an argument leading to the conclusion that God exists. If we were debating the problem of evil, that would be an argument leading to the conclusion that God does not exist. Just because an argument has a particular conclusion, does not mean that the debate is being rigged to favor that conclusion.
Rosa Rubicondior: “Why it this not an example of circular reasoning designed to play to an ignorant and parochially arrogant audience rather than to arrive at the truth?”
It is your audience that this debate is being presented for. Perhaps you are referring to the large atheist church that has arisen in England when you use the word parochially. Although I do not think that you would be so rude as to call your own audience arrogant.
In any case, this argument is not circular. A circular argument is when the conclusion is embedded in one of the premises. But neither “everything that begins to exist has a cause,” nor “the universe began to exist,” presupposes that the universe had a cause or that God exists. This is an example of deductive reasoning.
My 3 Questions To Rosa:
1 – What is the difference between an argument leading to the conclusion that God exists, and a God Of The Gaps argument?
2 – Could the cause of all nature be natural?
3 – If it follows deductive that the cause of all time is timeless, would that explain why the cause of time does not begin to exist?