The critical flaw with the apparent age theory is that it is incompatible with God's character. God is not deceptive.
It would be reasonable to believe that God created the world by starting at some mid-point in a normal cycle of life and death – as trees being mature and Adam being an adult – but it is going too far to assert that:
- God planted millions of fake bones of creatures (as dinosaurs) that never actually existed, just to fool us into thinking that they really did exist at one time.
- God knew that we would write textbooks, take photographs and build museums to house the skeletons of these creatures and believe that they are part of natural history, and God is now enjoying his fictitious prank.
- God knew that the prank would make it more difficult for Christians to bring others to Christ – by denying overwhelming scientific evidence – but God deliberately designed this enormous obstacle to faith.
- God planted whole fake cities, with homes, streets and cemeteries, with every evidence of prehistoric age, but it's all an elaborate deception because people never really lived there.
- God is timeless but wants us to think of him as smaller than he really is, operating only in tiny human time scale.
If God is capable of creating the earth over a long period of time, why wouldn't he just do it the way it appears to us? Why wouldn't he let us marvel at his creation just the way science finds it, without a cover-up to make it look less than it really is?
Why would God give us stories at odds with actual observation and scientific proofs and thus reduce credibility of the entire Bible?
It seems entirely fitting for God to create the earth over a long period of time in order to stretch our thoughts for better comprehension of eternal life ahead.
The Bible itself says that the earth is very old
[see Origin 1.2.1
There is no need to develop untenable positions just to protect old interpretations and teachings. God is fully capable of creating things either slow or fast. Actually, creation is even more awesome when it unfolds with precision and elegance over billions of years.
It is unreasonable and unnecessary to insist that the earth was created about 4000 BC but just looks old. That position is not compatible with either the Bible or with science, and it is a barrier to Christian faith.
Just as there was a time when people found it difficult to believe that the earth is round and not center of the universe, now again we adjust our thinking to new information about God's immense time scale.
If God perpetuated an elaborate hoax to make it look like the earth is old by planting fake cities and bones, then we cannot be certain that God is not deceiving us in other ways, too.
God and God's word are then no longer trustworthy and we don't know what to believe.