I am around intelligent and smart people. I do not mean that sarcastically, but in truth, and in much respect and recognition of their great minds.
When I talk to them about creation, they can easily accept that the universe has always been there. It is just the way it is. Even if we follow Hawking's theory that the Big Bang started from a black hole, you need not explain why it happened except it simply did. You need not find an explanation for it.
Now the philosophically intuitive principle is that since there is a being, then there must be a necessary being. Since there is something then that something could not have sprouted from nothing without Somebody doing something i.e. creation posits a Creator.
To this the unbeliever rebutts using the above answer: you need not find an explanation for creation because it has always been that way. It is a fact not contingent on other facts, so they say.
But that is really begging the question and so I do not find it convincing why smart and educated people accept that the universe is just brute reality. Firstly they are trying to assume what needs to be proven. They may posit this as a possibility - that the universe is just one brute reality, but they need to do more, they need to prove that it is indeed a brute fact. So where is the proof of that except their conjecture?
Do not get me wrong, there are phenomenons where our frame of questioning might be irrelevant to the phenomenon being examined, there does exist such cases. But most of the time this is discovered after the fact. In other words, we realize the frame of questioning is irrelevant only after we have established and understood the phenomenon. I do not think this is the case with creation.
To say that the universe has always been there is to define away or deny the need for an explanation. This is not answering the question but rather the ushering of it away, a type of hand waving. It is ducking at the issue, a type of moving the goal post.
In reality the proof by necessary being is a very compelling anti-atheist polemic, it begs an explanation which they rebutt by simply denying the obvious - like putting hands in their ears, looking the other way and saying - "lalalalala, I am not listening".