---"From The Spirit´s Book:
7. Is the first cause of the formation of things to be found in the essential properties of matter?"
It's quite possible that the clue to the cause of matter may be discernable within the properties of matter. This "what caused all we see" question is one of those questions that, after it recieves and answer, is merely pushed back ad infinitum. For instance, not a couple hundred years ago everyone would be asking where planets, suns, us, the universe came from. Now our knowledge of cosmology and particle physics allow us possible insight into the formation of our universe. One central hypothesis (or theory) being of course The Big Bang. In that theory, the infinitely small, dense, hot singularity from which we sprang literally "created" the universe and it's laws, and the singularity itself represented a state of affairs in which pretty much all the laws of today do not apply. So our universe came into existence - was "caused" - via the expansion of that singularity. All that is deduced from the properties we see within the current universe. But one might want to move the question back yet again and ask not what caused the universe but what caused the singularity. Answer: we don't know. All speculation is just that: speculation.
---"If such were the case, what would be the cause of those properties? There must always be a first cause."
This is invalid as applied against the creation of our universe. Because causal effects seem to be a pervasive property of our universe does not mean that you can extrapolate the qualities of our universe beyond our universe. Causality may not be how things "work" beyond our universe. Physicists who work with this stuff understand this; armchair philosophers often don't. For instance, the singularity at the heart of the Big Band Theory doesn't conform to the physical laws we know. As well, the behaviour of quantum objects (particles in superposition, quantum particles appearing out of "nowhere" etc.) apparently challenges causality and introduces a-causality into the fundamental fabric of the universe (an area of debate).
----To attribute the first formation of things to the essential properties of matter, would be to take the effect for the cause, for those properties are themselves an effect, which must have a cause.
Tell the author to consult a physicist.
----8. What is to be thought of the opinion that attributes the first formation of things to a fortuitous combination of matter, in other words, to chance?
We do not know enough about the physics before the beginning of our universe to opine whether it was chance or not. It's a complete mystery. So this would seem to be a question one puts to a strawman.
---"Another absurdity! Who that is possessed of common sense can regard chance as an intelligent agent? And, besides, what is chance? Nothing."
A bunch of non-sequiturs. Who says intelligence is part of the equation? And "chance" is a relative, human definition. If someone places a dollar bill on the ground and walks away it did not get there by chance. But I would likely consider my finding that dollar on the ground a chance event..
---"The harmony which regulates the mechanism of the universe can only result from combinations adopted in view of predetermined ends, and thus, by its very nature, reveals the existence of an Intelligent Power. To attribute the first formation of things to chance is nonsense for chance cannot produce the results of intelligence. If chance could be intelligent, it would cease to be chance.
More unbridled logical leaps. The author starts not with "the universe is regular" but that "the universe is regulated" (implying a "regulator") and thus is clearly starting at the conclusion he's already made up. Regarding "chance producing the results of intelligence" (this author strikes me as a sloppy writer) blind forces, with an element of chance do indeed arrive at "designs" that are somewhat analogous to the designs of human intelligence. It's called "Evolution."