I’m still not sure why you believe this, especially in this case. If this is a perfect example of “fumbling about,” there should be obvious flaws, or at the very least potential flaws, in my reasoning. But unless I’m misreading this conversation, you’ve at least conceded that the universe must have a cause, but then declined to point out anything wrong with my reasoning about what the first cause must be like if it does exist, and simply insisted that we can’t know anything about it.
Why you are so confident that we can’t know anything about it is what I am still not clear on.
Well, the answer to that question is simply that it is impossible for the first cause to not be here. Like it is impossible for 1+1 to equal 3, or for something to be the cause of itself. It is an axiom of reality. That’s what “necessarily existent” means.
Now, you might think that is really no better than saying that the existence of the first cause is just a brute, unexplained fact, as you have said. But the only alternative is to have the existence of the universe as a brute, unexplained fact. And for someone to whom the cosmological argument appeals (like myself), the universe is less fit to be the subject of that kind of brute fact than God, as the reasons given to support the above premise 2 would get into. (For example, it is arguable that God is simpler and far less arbitrary than the universe.)
I agree with you on the first part; I simply disagree on where that boundary is. As for the second part, that is a probability judgement that is highly dependent on the very question we are trying to answer; so I don’t really think we can say if it is improbable or not.
But, you’ve moved to wrap this up. Thanks very much for the discussion!