Some Christians reject an ancient age of the Earth because it conflicts with their theology. Here's Henry Morris, the famous young earth creationist from the sixties, in one of his candid moments:
"The only way we can determine the true age of the earth is for God to tell us what it is. And since he has told us, very plainly, in the Holy Scriptures that it is several thousand years in age, and no more, that ought to settle all basic questions of terrestrial chronology."1
But other Christians reject intelligent design for similar reasons: Their theology does not allow God to intervene in nature in a way that humans can detect.
A recent article in Nature about ID reports:
"The basic problem that I have theologically is that God's activity in the world should be hidden," says George Murphy, a Lutheran theologian, PhD physicist, and author of The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross. Murphy says Lutherans believe that God's primary revelation came through Jesus Christ, and many find it distasteful that additional divine fingerprints should appear in nature.2
The physicist Howard Van Till remarks:
"… I find it theologically awkward to imagine God choosing at the beginning to withhold certain gifts from the creation, thereby introducing gaps into the creation's formational history – gaps that would later, in the course of time, have to be bridged by acts of special creation."3
Finally, the cell biologist Kenneth Miller writes, in a book that makes it clear that he is talking about "evolution" as something that excludes ID:
"The irony is that only those who embrace the scientific reality of evolution are adequately prepared to give God the credit and the power He truly deserves."4
Now, everybody agrees that when the YECs use their theology to dictate the findings of science, they're wrong. But when Murphy, Van Till, and Miller do the same, they're being courageous and progressive. Why? Where are the people telling Murphy that the Bible isn't a science textbook? Where are the people telling Van Till about Galileo and warning him of what happened the last time religion intruded on the turf of science? Where are the people claiming that since evolution is obviously part of Miller's theology, he shouldn't be allowed to teach it in public schools?
The latest issue of Nature brings us another example of people using theology to argue against ID. In a correspondence-piece titled "Seeking evidence of God's work undermines faith", UK biologist Douglas W. Yu writes:
"The Bible throughout teaches that faith is more valuable when expressed in the absence of evidence. For a Christian, when science is allowed to be neutral on the subject of God, science can only bolster faith. In contrast, and I imagine without realizing it, ID proponents have become professional Doubting Thomases, funded by Doubting Thomas Institutes. When advocates of ID use the vocabulary of science to argue for God's presence in cellular machinery or in the fossil record, they too poke their fingers through Jesus' hands. In so doing, ID vitiates faith."
1. Henry M. Morris, The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth (Bethany House, 1972), p. 94
2. Geoff Brumfiel, "Who has designs on your students' minds?", Nature 434(7037):1062-5 (2005), p. 1063
3. Howard J. Van Till, "The Fully Gifted Creation", in J.P. Moreland & J.M. Reynolds (eds.), Three Views on Creation and Evolution (Zondervan, 1999), p. 187
4. Kenneth R. Miller, Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution (HarperCollins, 1999), p. 258, my emphasis