Although I first asked, "Where did the universe come from?" and "Where did God come from?", when I was just a child, I never entertained the notion that the universe has always been here; despite, at one time, believing that God had always been here. When I realized that the two questions were interchangeable, it didn't seem so odd to think the universe had always been here.
I thought about that for awhile and realized that creation is an illusion. Nothing is ever created. Things just change form. It's called the First Law of Thermodynamics; the conservation of energy. We really are made from stardust. The universe itself existed as pure energy, in a singularity, before exploding (expanding) into the immense cosmos that awes us at night. The universe transformed from energy to matter; Einstein's E=MC2.
I've always thought of the universe as the cosmos. But in fact, the cosmos is just one form of the universe. The universe also existed (and might again exist) as a singularity. In one form or another, the universe must always have existed -- if the First Law holds true in a singularity (which is something we don't know for sure).
We know the universe exists, so it must have always existed. It's truly eternal. But we don't know, in the same physical way, that God exists. If the universe is truly eternal, God (The Creator) never needed to exist: we already had a universe (singularity or cosmos). If we don't know God exists and the First Law suggests he never needed to exist, then why insist that he does?
When we watch TV, we know that man invented it as well as the videos it displays. We know no other animal invented any of it because the "creator" must be more complex and intelligent than the "created". If God created the universe, he would have to be more complex than the universe. As awesome and mysterious as the universe is, God would have to be even more so. What purpose does it serve to unnecessarily add this supernatural layer of complexity? Isn't trying to understand the natural universe enough?
The following essay summarizes my position on this topic.
Creation and the Conservation of Energy
Creation stories are universal among religions, through the ages. The ineffable mystery of life compelled us to explain our existence. In our primitive ignorance of the world, religion was the best we could do to provide the explanations we craved.
Thanks to science, we’re learning more about the universe and illuminating the dark corners of what was once our ignorance.
The word, "create", means: to bring into existence. Thus, if God created the universe, it had a beginning and can not be infinite in both directions of time: forward, yes; backward, no. But why can’t the universe simply be? Why can’t the universe be infinite in both directions of time: forward and backward? Why must it have a beginning? Why must it have been created by a supernatural God?
The first law of thermodynamics – the conservation of energy – makes it clear that nothing is ever created. Matter might change form but it never simply appears or disappears. For instance, we are nourished and grow by eating plants and other animals. Food is transformed into the energy that sustains us and the cells we are made of; including our DNA. Our parents didn’t create us, they transformed us.
Physics' mathematical models break down in a singularity. It is not known whether or not the first law holds in a singularity. If it does, the first law of thermodynamics strips bare the core question of creation and existence. Either the universe always existed . . . or . . . the universe was created by something outside the laws of physics (i.e. something supernatural). Either the universe is truly eternal or the eternal God created it. It boils down to the natural (physical universe) or the supernatural (God).
We've had plenty of confirmation of Einstein's famous equation: E=MC2. Energy and mass are equivalent. Before the Big Bang, the entire mass of the universe was contained (as energy) in a super singularity. Whether or not ours is the first and only Big Bang, Big Bangs come from singularities. I believe that, in one form or another (singularity or cosmos), the universe simply is and always was. Not only is there no need for creation or for God: the conservation of energy means there could never have been a time when the universe, in whatever form, did not exist. Something doesn't come from nothing without supernatural intervention.
Because nobody has ever seen anything physically created, the pervasive concept of creation must be a human construct in response to the unfathomable immensity of the eternal. The universe has always existed? What do you mean? Everything comes from somewhere, doesn't it? Perhaps. But nothing comes from nowhere.
The first law reduces the source of our existence to either the natural or the supernatural. The notion of a personal God is ridiculous to me. But a cosmic God? I can imagine an eternal energy – infinitely hot, infinitely massive – that created the universe in a single, spectacular, explosive expansion: an eternal energy that still permeates the entire universe. If you want to call that eternal energy -- that potential of our universe -- God, I won't refute you.