Young earth creationists must contend that God created the universe with the appearance of age- e.g. trees with rings, eroded mountains, visible starlight; but a common response is that this makes God deceptive.
Dr. Leithart agrees with Kurt Wise that such an objection applies equally to any miraculous event.
‘Other miracles have the same structure. A man lame from birth suddenly leaps and walks. Seeing him on the road the next day, one would infer a history of infant crawling, toddling, walking, running that never occurred. Turning water into wine involves creating “an apparent but non-existent history of wine-making” (59).
One is free to test out naturalistic explanations of Jesus’ miracles. But once they are accepted as miracles, then the notion of “appearance of age” or “simulated history” is inescapable. If creation is “deceptive” because it comes with the appearance of age, then Jesus too is a deceiver, as His enemies charged.’
It seems to me that this misses the point in the case of starlight. There is no ‘inferred’ history. Rather there is a visible and ongoing story. It is precisely the same sort of story that you see taking place in the room around you at this very moment- air conditioner blowing, cat lazily cleaning herself and the kids playing in the next room; and it is perceived in exactly the same way.
We see things happening around us via the light which enters our eye. In the same way, light from an object millions of light years away arrives at the retina of those who care to take it in. This has been going on every second for as long as there have been beings who care to look up. This light, too, reveals events that are going on around us- a nova here, a solar flare there, etc, but when the light reaches our eyes, it has been traveling for millions of years in order to reach us. To look up at the night sky is to look back into time. According to YEC, God is giving us a second by second visual unfolding of events that never really happened.
Of course he only does it when we look up. He’d never do it when we look around. We can be confident that the air conditioner, the cat and our loved ones really exist, and that our history with them actually took place. Right?