Do you believe the universe ( little 'u' or big 'U')) had to have a beginning??
It’s my understanding that our universe (according to the Big Bang Theory) began with the expansion.
Before the expansion, there was a pure energy state.
The question of what came “before” the pure energy state or if the pure energy state “always existed” is not applicable because time did not exist during that state. With the expansion (the Planck Epoch, the earliest period of time in the history of our universe) space/time separated out (like the forces) and time started to “flow”.
In the pure energy state, all was completely homogenous, time, space, energy, the forces etc. were all one, so before and after did not exist.
There are other hypotheses of course, like multiverse budding and string theory branes etc., but those are discussions for another day.