Hey Fisherman, thanks for the follow up questions. I'll try to answer them to the best of my abilities.
I think that what you are saying is that laws do not govern the conduct of the universe but that laws explain or describe its behavior mathematically.
I think that sums up what I was saying very nicely.
Second, regarding the dynamics of how the universe was formed. It seems to me that the universe was not formed randomly, that it contained information.
I don't think "information" is the right word. The formation of our universe had structure and order. It's important to remember though, that such labels are entirely circular - as we define "structure" and "order" by things we observe in our universe. Another way of putting it would be, "the formation of the early universe had properties of the universe." I don't think this will come as a surprise to anyone.
Perhaps a more informative answer to your question would be that "random" (at least in the context that you're using the word) does not exist within our universe. Everything about our universe can be expressed in relation to probabilities. I think this short video might help you out a bit (so long as you understand "quantum randomness" means uncertainty and does NOT mean "anything goes" or "without order"):
Given the big bang, again and again, and again. Would the universe we know today always form with the same relationships.
I don't know. But there are many scientist looking to either verify or falsify this exact question. It's called the Multiverse.
I am sure that you believe that space is something physical because it exist and it can be measured. Even if space could exist empty and void of anything at all. It still would not be considered nothing. Given the big bang theory, space did not always exist in the form it takes as part of the universe today but it was formed as a product of the big bang.
All empty space has both positive and negative energy in it. Or, as Lawrence Krauss always likes to say, "Empty space weighs something." Without that energy, you can't have space/time. Thus you can't have empty space without having quantum fluctuations or stable energy. And if it didn't have that in it - it wouldn't exist.
I cannot understand how the universe could come out of nothing. Something had to change.
"Something" didn't change. But nothing did. It became more complicated.
Also, in regards to the link you provided from Vixra Log - I thought I should let you know that article operates on a premise that is fundamentally flawed. The author makes the statment:
I am going to . . . dispute the claim that the energy of the universe is zero only when it is flat. It is a very strange statement from a cosmologists because it is more commonly said that the total energy of the universe is zero for a closed universe, i.e. for positive curvature, not flat space.
His entire position is based on a Straw Man Argument. We don't know the universe is flat because it has zero energy. Rather, we know the universe is flat because we've directly measured the structure of the CMB using the WMAP probe. And it's by seeing that the universe is flat that we've determined that it has zero energy. (This finding was also later corroborated by the Planck spacecraft)
To put this in perspective, his argument is like saying, "You're trying to say (some object) is a trout because you confirmed it's a fish. Just because it's a fish doesn't mean it's a trout." When, in fact, the opposite was true and you had confirmed that the object was a trout - and by knowing that it was a trout you were able to determine that it was a fish. His argument just doesn't hold water (no pun intended).
Furthermore, we've also independently confirmed the total sum energy of the universe is zero using the gravitational lensing around galactic clusters to "weigh" the universe.