A standard knock against mature creation is that it implicates God in web of deception. It represents a potpourri of illusion and reality.
I've discussed this objection many times. I'd like to take another whack at it.
i) Unless we're careful, the objection to mature creation can easily become an objection to miracles in general. There are atheists who think miracles are cheating. Christians don't play by the rules. We have this ace up our sleeves. Some atheists think miracles are unethical. If nature isn't lawlike, if there are exceptions, then God can't be trusted. I think that's childish, but I'm just pointing out that the objection to mature creation is similar.
ii) Let's illustrate the objection. Take a supernova. Given their distance in lightyears, some supernova generate a paradox: if young-earth creationism is true, then the supernova is older than the universe that contains it. The supernova must predate the universe. But that's incoherent.
A way around that is to say God created starlight in transit. And up to a point, that's a consistent explanation, but it only works for prehistoric supernovae. Supernovae that were created with the universe.
But in the case of historic supernova, which appear after the universe was made, I don't think that explanation will work. If stargazers record the appearance of a supernova, which wasn't visible in that part of the sky prior to their time, then you can't trace it back to the moment of creation. Compare it to stars that humans always saw.
This raises the theoretical possibility of an empirical test. If you could take a spaceship to the site of transmission, would you find a supernova there, or just a play of light?
According to mature creation, although the light source may be localizable, that's not the point of origin. Rather, a supernova is the effect of God's direct fiat. If you follow the stream of light to the source, you will find a luminous image or afterglow with no underlying physical cause. Just a shiny surface, like a hologram. Or will you?
Some people think that's deceptive. For my part, I think it would be very interesting to live in a universe like that.
iii) Is there anything analogous to mature creation in human experience? Consider dreams. We dream about two kinds of things: real people and places, as well as imaginary people and places.
On the one hand we dream about familiar people and places. People we know. Friends. Dead or living relatives. Places where we live. Places from our past.
On the other hand, we dream about strangers. We dream about strange places. We dream about places we've never been in real life. We see people in dreams we never saw in real life. We encounter people in dreams we never met before, whom we will never meet again.
You have to wonder where all this is coming from. Sure, you can say it's our subconscious. But how can our subconscious instantly produce this detailed alternate reality?
Another striking thing about this experience is that within the dream, real people and places are indistinguishable from imaginary people and places. Within the dream, imaginary characters look real and act real. We have conversations with the imaginary characters in our dreams–just like we have conversations with friends and relatives in our dreams. Within the dream, you can't tell the difference. It all seems equally real. It's a bit unnerving, if you think about it.
Although there's a sense in which dreams are unreal, there's another sense in which dreams are real. Dreams are mental states. Mental states are real. In that respect, dreams are just as real as our waking states.
There is, of course, a critical difference. When you're awake, you're aware of a world that's objective to yourself. You're interacting with a world that's independent of you. In a dream, by contrast, the dream is the product of your awareness.
Yet when we dream about remembered people and remembered places, reality is breaking into the dream, like a shaft of light in the darkness. In that respect, the dream is a composite of reality and illusion.
Mature creation may seem ad hoc if we think of "apparent age" as little bits of illusion intruding into reality. But when we dream about remembered people and places, it's little bits of reality intruding into the illusion. So it depends on your frame of reference.
iv) In addition, it's striking how mature creation anticipates virtual reality. Take scifi fare like Harsh Real, The Matrix, and Tron: Legacy. Scifi buffs find those scenarios very appealing. They wish they could do that sort of thing in real life.
Moreover, it's not just science fiction. As we continue to make strides in VR technology, we are making a mature creation parallel, where real people interact with a simulation. Where do you draw the line?