Who Killed the SSC

Waxahachie, Texas, is a sleepy little town whose only claim to fame is a $2 billion tunnel. The tunnel is 15 miles long but goes absolutely nowhere and will probably not be used for anything. Except, it seems, giving secular scientists another excuse for bashing Christians. The Waxahachie tunnel was supposed to house the Superconducting Super Collider, or the SSC. The SSC would have been used to accelerate subatomic particles to incredibly high speeds, slamming them together to reveal the structure of things like quarks and bosons deep inside the atom. But the Super Collider project quickly overran its budget—its projected cost rising from $3 billion to nearly $12 billion. Members of Congress began to wonder if they were paying for a tunnel or for a black hole that would devour taxpayer money endlessly. Several months ago Congress finally decided the project wasn't worth it and voted to end funding for the SSC—leaving the tunnel standing empty. Today physicists are still reeling from the loss of their pet project, and science journals are sprinkled with soulful articles seeking to explain what went wrong. For example, in a recent article, Leon Lederman, a Nobel laureate in physics, refuses to believe that the loss of the Super Collider was merely a matter of the congressional budget. No, he says, it's a sign that America is infected with a dark, irrational opposition to science. Writing in a journal called Physics Today, Lederman says that many Americans have been drawn in by an "antiscience, antirational mood." Proof of that, he says, can be seen in the fact that so many people accept the claims of creationism. Apparently, as far as Lederman is concerned, belief in a Creator sounds the death knell to any serious science. But that merely proves how little he knows of his own colleagues. Many Christians who accept creationism are themselves practicing scientists. Many are even in Lederman's own field—physics—and are employed by national research laboratories or teaching in universities. Far from being "anti-science," they work hard to develop tools for science and to teach its theories to students. What's more, scientists who believe in creation belong to a long and respectable tradition. Most of the founders of modern science were Christians, whose work was inspired by the belief that nature has a rational structure because it was created by a rational God. So if we're looking for the cause of death of the Superconducting Super Collider, it's ludicrous to pin the blame on Christians. The postmortem should point directly to the super-high costs of the project in an age of budget cutting. Scapegoating creationists has become a popular pastime for secular scientists looking for someone to blame for their woes. Christians need to stand up for their good name and claim their full heritage as defenders of genuine science. And about that tunnel in Waxahachie: It may be put to use after all. News reports say that a Texas company wants to buy the tunnel . . . to grow mushrooms.


Chuck Colson


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