Simply stated, the idea of "creation with appearance of age" means that when God created, those things which He created might superficially have looked as if they had a history. When Adam was created, he no doubt looked like a mature adult, fully able to walk, talk, care for the garden, etc. When God created fruit trees, they were already bearing fruit. In each case, what He created was functionally complete right from the start—able to fulfill the purpose for which it was created. Stars, created on Day Four, had to be seen to perform their purpose of usefulness in telling time; therefore, their light had to be visible on Earth right from the start. God's evaluation that the completed creation was "very good" (Genesis 1:31) necessitated that it be functionally complete, operating in harmony, with each part fulfilling the purpose for which it was created.
If a scientific observer today, with no knowledge of Adam's creation, traveled back in time to Day Seven and tried to determine Adam's age (or the age of a rock, or the age of a star), how could it be done? The scientist would rely on today's human growth rates (or rates of radioactive decay, or the speed of light), and calculate how long it would take for this state of maturity to develop, and would come to a wrong conclusion.
This is because the world today is not as it was in creation. God's creative powers are at rest now, and He is maintaining the creation using present laws of physics. The original created world, perfect and non-decaying at first, was subsequently cursed and made subject to decay and death (Genesis 3:17; Romans 8:20, etc.). Furthermore, even that world was destroyed by the Flood of Noah, so that the world we live in today is a relic of destructive processes, not creative processes. Any effort to apply present processes and process rates to creation is doomed to failure.
It is claimed by old-universe advocates that Romans 1:20 reveals that truth about creation and God's character must be "clearly seen" from the study of the creation. Any unregenerate scientist, using valid theory and careful analysis, must be able to determine the age and origin of any object. Since secular scientists have concluded the universe began with a Big Bang, that must be the way it happened. God could not have created with the appearance of a Big Bang if He didn't use that method, so that must be the way He did it. After all, God cannot lie!
But this position denies the clear Scriptural teachings regarding Creation, the Fall, and the Flood. Furthermore, it denies the very possibility of creation, for creation without the appearance of "age" is impossible.
God, in His sovereignty, knew that fallen man, living in the post-Flood world might wrongly conclude the age and origin of things. For just that reason, He gave us a clear record of what He had done and when He had done it. Furthermore, when we look at the evidence in light of what He has told us, the universe doesn't even look old. The real evidence is fully compatible with an origin only thousands of years ago.
On the other hand, if fallen scientists extrapolating present process are right and the universe is old, then God has lied to us, for He clearly said He created all things in six days, not too long ago.
*Dr. John Morris is the President of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris, J. D. 1990. Did God Create with Appearance of Age? Acts & Facts. 19 (9).