There is a fundamental tension in young-earth creationism. It is claimed that there is evidence for not only creation but a young earth that anyone with an open mind will be persuaded by. Many other theologians and preachers, however, have found themselves speaking of a need for faith in order to perceive God’s hand, whether in nature, in history or in personal circumstances. The puzzle is this: if God created things directly and recently in their present form, and was willing to provide evidence that he did so, then why would an omnipotent, omniscient (and perhaps also omnivorous) deity not inscribe “(c) God Year 1 Day 6” somewhere on the human person where modern microscopes could find it, in English (since God would have foreknown that all these debates would arise with Darwin and predominate in an English-speaking context). If God works in the way ancient peoples and modern young-earth creationists believe, then this is the sort of evidence we would expect. Indeed, such evidence is less dramatic than the sort provided in Biblical stories, with fire from heaven or parted seas annihilating enemies. Where is the shower of fossils and dinosaur bones to descend in judgment and wipe out those pernicious scientists who dare to support evolution merely because all the available evidence supports it?
If, on the other hand, seeing God at work in the universe requires faith, then the attempt to provide clear-cut evidence that so-called creation scientists engage in is not only doomed to failure, it is fundamentally misguided. Of course, there are plenty of other options as well – among them, that God worked through natural processes in a way that is not detectable, except perhaps in the sense that one can intuit it. But be that as it may, the question for young-earth creationists remains: If God created in the way they claim and left evidence that he did so, why would God leave the sort of evidence that would convince the ignorant but not the well-informed, the gullible but not those employing the scientific method? As Ken Miller has helpfully shown, young-earth creationism isn’t merely not science. It is also bad theology, offering a very dubious portrait of God.