No, special pleading is the ignoring of premises or evidence to reach a false conclusion:
P1. All politicians are corrupt.
P2. Bill is a politician.
*However I assume that Bill is a special case and so I will ignore P1* (- special pleading clause)
C. Bill is not corrupt.
[Incidentally I do think that Aquinas' original conclusion is a case of special pleading, as it assumes that only God can have the character of being uncaused. But as long as there is no "this is what we call God" coda in the conclusion I don't agree this argument does involve any special pleading at all.]
How does this not apply here?
From what you posted:
Thomas Aquinas has five arguments for the existence of God (his “five ways”). The second way runs as follows:
Premise 1: Every effect has a cause.
Premise 2: Every cause is itself an effect.
Premise 3: The chain of causation (predicated by Premises 1 & 2) cannot go on forever.
Conclusion: There is an uncaused causer, which we call God.
Bold mine. Read that and tell me it's not special pleading.
Well it also predicts that the universe is infinite - which again, is big claim to justify by logical argument alone.
The universe is not infinite. Infinity exists only as a concept.
However I agree that it may be the case that the universe is without reason. (Your point about truth being independent of our concerns about it is very well made) I am willing to accept this may be the truth, and I probably do. However the scientist and philosopher in me is somewhat wounded by the notion that not only do we not know the reason for existence; but a forteriori we cannot possibly know.
Bold mine. I have no idea what that means. Please explain it.
I don't believe this is a false dichotomy at all. My point is exactly this; either the universe is finite and there is an uncaused cause; or the universe is infinite and existence is a matter of 'brute fact' - ie without explanation.
Anfauglir just posted a third option.
Indeed. Many cosmologists now see quantum fluctuations as the 'beginning' of the universe, precisely because they do seem to fit the category of 'uncaused'. However this is a complexity here, because quantum fluctuations still require the existence of space/time to occur within. So I am not convinced that this really helps us as much as some seem to think.
Who said they required the existence of space/time? Regardless, they are uncaused. This indicates that more than one event could have been uncaused.