Gerard J. Keane, whom I once had the great pleasure of meeting here in Sacramento, has written widely on the problems of evolution from a Catholic perspective. In this 2001 paper titled The Current State of the Origins Debate http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/creation/gjkeane/statques.html , Mr. Keane summarizes the improbability of an old earth:
“An age of billions of years for the Universe has serious theological and scientific arguments against it. Since naturalistic evolution is rejected, it becomes necessary to resort to countless divine interventions to account for how life-forms kept coming into being. In contrast, Tradition holds that the Creation events reached finality soon after the events of Creation. The interdependence within diverse bio-systems necessarily requires fairly rapid creation. Fruit trees created on Day 3 need birds and bees to arrive on Day 5, not millions of years later. Why the quest to supplant direct creation with direct intervention, and which Scripture passages can be cited in support? ‘A day is as 1,000 years’ (2 Peter 3:8) refers to timeless eternity rather than to the Creation events. We know that God instantly created space, time and matter, and instantly turned water into wine and instantly brought the dead back to life. In keeping with Scripture passages, why not allow Him to instantly stretch out the heavens (i.e., the Universe) and lightwaves on Day 4, less than 10,000 years ago?
… The global Flood of Noah is usually denied by advocates of Progressive Creation in favour of local floods. But this means that God’s ‘rainbow’ promise, to no more destroy mankind through a flood, has been broken many times. (eg The Bangladesh tidal wave flood of 1971 killed 300,000 people.) … If a global Flood were to be conceded, the next question waiting to be addressed is this: did it occur before or after the sin of Adam? Genesis reveals that it occurred after Adam’s sin, thus it must have occurred less than 10,000 years ago. The strata and fossils thus cannot be any older than 10,000 years.
Those who favour eons of time have to address Leo XIII’s benchmark teaching in Providentissimus Deus (1893). He taught that there are various senses used in Scripture but insisted that the literal, obvious sense must hold ground until shown to be disproven. Since a meaning of 24 hours natural days was held by most of the Fathers and was permitted by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1909 as the proper sense and thus is unlikely to be overturned, the onus of responsibility of proof lies entirely with those who prefer eons of years. It may not be possible to prove a young Universe scientifically but I contend that, ultimately, the long ages view is contradictory of Catholic Tradition.
Where is the proof beyond doubt that the Universe is billions of years old? Where is the indication in Genesis that a meaning other than natural days was intended to be conveyed and understood by the reader? The sacred writer could easily have informed us that the Creation took place over millions of years. Did the Fathers and Rabbis get it wrong, in holding that Genesis is primarily historical revelation, until the revisionist theological impact of the Darwinist era suggested otherwise? Where is the consistency of reasoning in arguing that the Days of creation were much longer, but the hundreds of years ages of patriarchs were much shorter than that?”
As I have said elsewhere, belief in a young earth may not be something on the level of doctrine, but it is an inference from established doctrine. To summarize:
1. The Bible is inerrant and Genesis is history;
2. Corollary A: There was a real worldwide Flood, and it occured after the Fall;
3. Corollary B: The biblical genealogies refer to real people and real events;
4. Adam and Eve are the first created man and woman;
5. Adam and Eve are the first and only parents of the entire human race;
6. Eve was created from the side of Adam;
7. Adam and Eve would not have died had they never sinned;
8. There was no enmity between Man and Nature before the Fall;
9. The world was created ex nihilo;
10. The world was created for Man.
The weight of these truths lend themselves to a young earth scenario, quite apart from scientific investigation. Which leads us to the subject of “neutrality” in science: any science worthy of the name should be about discovering the truth, and should therefore incorporate all relevent truths into its method. Some people do not think that this approach is “neutral” enough, and so they ignore any truths that happen to have a religious source. Science then becomes an entirely self-referential and tautological system that is purposely blind to significant truths about material reality.