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We are also talking about the situation before the natural laws of this particular universe were established.

What the... what the hell does that mean? Why do you believe there ever WAS such a situation? How would we go about coming to ANY conclusion about it if there were?

If the universe emerged from nothing, then exceptions to the conservation of energy would have to be made regardless of a theistic or atheistic outlook.

Of course.

The question is whether these assumptions are substantially more than required for a universe to spontaneously emerge from nothing.

I hold no beliefs about what is required for a universe to spontaneously emerge from nothing. I' not sure I even understand what 'nothing' in this context means. No energy existing in a given volume of space-time? No energy existing in no volume of space-time with no consistent relationships that can be phrased as laws?

As opposed to colliding "branes" producing multiverses? Is the notion of a near infinite number of parallel universes substantially more acceptable to Occam's razor than an intelligent designer?

I don't know enough about "branes" to competently discuss them. For mulitiverses, I'm vaguely familiar with the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, but that has nothing to do with universe beginnings. I'm also vaguely familiar with the idea of eternal inflation.

For eternal inflation, we have an already moderately accepted idea of inflation that gives us multiverses. The additional universes are almost a side-effect of the inflation that was only proposed to explain the homogeneity of our universe. I'm still not convinced inflation itself is correct, though; it seems pretty ad-hoc. <shrug>

Proposing an intelligence by itself does nothing. In proposing an intelligent-designer-of-universes, you are proposing a new class of 'life' and another set of meta-laws that this 'life' operates under. You are comparing (one additional super-being and an unknown set of meta-laws that govern his existence) to (additional independent universes as a consequence of laws that govern in our universe also).

At least Kazim's proposed machine gun in ancient Rome answers a definite question (what caused the death of a certain person) and proposes a fairly well-defined object (a machine gun.) It may violate everything we understand about the requirements of how machine guns come to be, but we can obtain examples of machine guns existing and killing people anytime we want. We cannot obtain examples of natural laws coming into existence much less intelligent beings creating natural laws and still have to ignore everything we understand about the requirements for how intelligence comes to be in order to propose an intelligent-designer-of-universes.
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