God isn't messing with us.
What difference would it make if God created the earth 6000 years ago and made it look 4.5 billion years ago? Presumably He'd be competent at it, and nobody would ever discover the truth, until He revealed it. What if the universe doesn't actually exist, except in our minds, and God has us all enveloped in a perfect illusion that appears to be a physical universe? If we all believed we were in a universe with physical laws and we behaved accordingly, what difference would it make in the end if we weren't actually ever in such a universe? I assert it wouldn't make the slightest difference. I'm a software developer by profession, and that's exactly how we test our systems to find out if they work properly. We feed our systems with data that appears real, and if the system works as expected, then we know we can put actual real data into the system and get meaningful results.
[No, it doesn't always work that way, because sometimes it's difficult to come up with test data that mimics real data closely enough. Which is why there have to be multiple attempts to test the systems.]
What does a loving father do? You, as a loving father, raise your children by hand, keep them from harm while young, and even sometimes when they are older, teach them as much about the world as you can so that they can eventually learn to get along without you, and then, in the end, you see how well your work ended up. Did they become successful? Did they bring you grandchildren? Can you be content at the results at the end of your life, or do you have regrets that you could have done better? The results are variable, and in the end may depend more upon factors out of your control than ones in your control. You die, and they go on (or not). End of story.
God doesn't do these things. He's not visibly present during the lifetime of virtually any of his children, though if they seek Him out, He may manifest Himself to them in some way. Some of them who have had Him manifest Himself to them may teach others about God, while yet others to whom God never manifested Himself, may, for various reasons both good and bad, pretend they know who He is, and teach others fictions about Him and what He supposedly desires of them. Occasionally, God will seek out certain of His children and actually reveal Himself in certain ways, and these children, prophets, will teach the children they live among. But most others never hear anything about these prophets, or if they did, have no reason to credit them as genuine representatives of God. And they go whatever way they go, ignorantly.
God leaves the vast majority of His children in abject ignorance of His will, or even His existence, during the period of His children's existence on this planet. He leaves the raising of those children to the mortal parents of those children. Towards the end of the test period, God will have made His will known (if disputed) to many more people than He ever did in the past (we're living in that period now), but still, there are a very large number who don't know much if anything about Him. But in the end, He will manifest Himself more fully to His children, and for a period His will will be known to nearly all who live on earth (the Millennium).
God's method's are clearly different from yours, as a loving mortal parent, and His purposes and goals are different as well. You raise your children in order to promote their mortal existence, so they live as long as they can. God is testing us, to determine our suitability for future employment.
As far as I can determine, God is trying to determine which among all His children will, without sure knowledge of Him, choose to do as righteously as they can. Because He is trying to find out which ones among all His children, are suitable for advancement to do His work, to be raised by Him to become like Him, and then go on to do His work as well. The scriptures make this sufficiently clear, and this is what I have concluded from them.
ETA: All that sounds very mechanistic, I suppose, so I must add that God loves us unreservedly, and those of us who nevertheless fail to be suitable for future employment as gods, will nevertheless be rewarded immeasurably and be given meaningful work that will make us happy for eternity. And after eternity ends, might there be more for us? Who knows, but I have confidence that God's love will make all this we have to go through be worthwhile.