In my apologetic presentations on college campuses I portray the universe as a theater where the glory of God is put on display.
But of course a theater cannot create itself.
Theaters are things. Things cannot create themselves. Maybe they were formed from prior things, but then one naturally wonders where the whole series of things came from.
A series of things needs a non-thing to create it. A theater needs a non-theater to create it. This “non-thing” is what we call God.
At this point atheists often ask me where God came from.
Answer: I don’t know.
Just because I can’t tell you where God came from doesn’t mean God didn’t create the world, however.
Consider this example: My dear relatives in southwestern Minnesota have discovered arrowheads on their farm property. Where did the arrowheads come from?
Most likely from Native Americans who inhabited the land for centuries before white settlers came to the region.
OK, good enough.
But the skeptic objects: “But where did Native Americans come from? I’m not going to believe they produced the arrowheads until you tell me where they came from.”
That’s weird. You’re not going to believe my answer to the arrowhead mystery until the Native American mystery is also solved?
But why? I just gave you a solid answer to the question at hand: where arrowheads came from. The origin of Native Americans is a separate question.
Similarly, the origin of God is a separate question from the origin of the universe.
If you must know, Christian philosophers tell us that God, by definition, is self-existent. He is the necessary cause of the created (contingent) order. But that’s a discussion for another time.