Progressive creationists*, like their young-earth counterparts, face significant challenges from both science and Scripture.
First, the quest to find maximal harmony between science and Scripture has led to forced interpretations of both. On the one hand, Scripture is harmonized with science through the contention that the sun and stars were created prior to Day 1—but were not visible from the surface of the earth until Day 4. On the other hand, science is harmonized with Scripture through a strained explanation that allows vegetation to thrive during a geological age in which there is no direct sunlight.
Furthermore, in order to harmonize Scripture with modern science, progressive creationists* compromise the moral significance of natural evil. As such, they ascribe all morally meaningful evil to that which takes place after the initial human sin. Though progressive creationists have acknowledged that animals “manifest attributes of mind, will, and emotions” and are “uniquely endowed with the capacity to form relationships—with each other and with humans,” the horrors of suffering, death, and extinction are said to be part and parcel of God’s “very good” creation.
Finally, from a progressive creationist perspective, even Eden was not immune to the havoc of parasitism, animal deaths, infections, and natural catastrophes. Eve herself suffered the ravages of pain, which only “increased” as a result of her sin. To put it bluntly, there never was a perfect paradise. Worse yet, God is implicated in using disease, decay, destruction, and even death (dubbed “random, wasteful inefficiencies”) as the means by which to bring about the “very good” world in which Eve experienced pain. As Dr. William Dembski aptly noted, “The difficulty with this suggestion, which is made throughout the old-earth creationist literature, is that natural evil becomes simply a tool for furthering God’s end rather than a consequence of human sin. Old-earth creationism thus opens God to the charge of inflicting pain simply to advance a divine agenda.”
In reality, there is simply no need for farfetched special pleading. A proper reading of the book of nature* reveals natural evil before Adam. Likewise, a proper reading of sacred Scripture reveals an infinite God who redeems humankind by acting across time. As the effects of the cross are retroactive, so too the effects of the fall are retroactive.
For further study, see William A. Dembski, The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2009).