In a blog post, (atheist) Richard Carrier puts a different spin on the "from nothing" argument. He says that if we start with truly nothing, then anything can happen. For "of nothing, nothing comes" is a law - and in a condition of true nothingness, there are no laws to prevent anything from happening.
I think this is a mistake. In order for anything to "happen", there must be a time dimension. And time (we know from modern physics) is a physical thing: a property of our universe, not some universal that exists independently of space.
Theists have had more practice thinking about timelessness: after all, God has been considered a timeless being for, well, a long time. William Carroll points out that, theologically speaking, creation is not a change:
As Thomas Aquinas notes: creatio non est mutatio (creation is not a change). It is true, Thomas would say, that all change requires a pre-existent something which changes: from nothing, nothing comes, that is, if “to come” means to change....But he fails to see that his point about a timeless God also applies to a timeless quantum state:
The Creator is the complete and continuing cause of whatever exists, and to create, so understood, does not call into question the truth of the principle that all change begins with something which undergoes the change. Nor does the first principle of change call into question the intelligibility of creation out-of-nothing. Creation is a relationship of absolute dependence; it is not a change. Whether the universe as a whole has a beginning or not concerns the kind of universe that is created, not the more fundamental issue of whether it is created. An eternal universe would be just as much a created universe—and created out-of-nothing—as one which had a temporal beginning.
Many think that to explain the Big Bang as the fluctuation of a primal vacuum eliminates the need to have a Creator. But the Big Bang “explained” in this way is still a change and, as we have seen, creation, properly understood, is not a change at all.Wrong: in the vacuum-fluctuation picture, the origin of the universe from a timeless quantum state is not a change. One could say, rather, that the quantum vacuum is the timeless source of our universe of time and space. Just as it would be wrong to consider creation by God as an event that takes place in time, so it is wrong to think about the vacuum-fluctuation origin this way. It is not a change in the quantum vacuum. (It's not clear to me if it's even correct to say the quantum vacuum causes the universe to exist. Does causation require time?) It's a relation of absolute dependence - but not of temporal change.
I think Carrier's point can be better made by saying that "of nothing, nothing comes," if it is true at all, is true as a physical law, and so it is something that applies only to our physical universe. If we begin with the assumption of true, philosophical nothing, then nothing can be said about what can or can't be the case. (Apart from logical contradictions, as Carrier notes.)
Ultimately, Carrier's conclusion is almost correct:
So if something always existed for no reason, and our options are that this something was either God or a simple quantum vacuum, the evidence confirms it was the latter.
Except that, instead of "always existed," we should say "timelessly existed."