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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-04-03 09:34
Subject: Biblical Inerrancy
Security: Public
Tags:religion, science
Ok, here's my new favorite piece of Biblical literalism. (Even better than bats being considered birds, or locusts being four-legged creatures.) Thanks to The Straight Dope, I've been pointed to a Bible verse which clearly states that the value of π is equal to 3.

"Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about."
    -- 2 Chronicles 4:2


If you subscribe to Biblical inerrancy, this vile teaching that π is an irrational number is explicitly a sin against the Word of God. Much more clearly so than, say, evolution, which unlike the value of π isn't actually mentioned as such in the Bible. Why isn't Fred Phelps picketing the National Institute of Standards and Technology?
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-03 16:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
:: laughing ::

And in fact, given the age of the text, not an unreasonable approximation. But I still ain't crossing any bridge built with that value of pi in mind...
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User: dirkcjelli
Date: 2007-04-03 16:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"did compass it round about" indicates it didn't come up short...
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-03 17:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's only a gotcha if you insist the Bible is literal, revealed truth. Otherwise it's a reasonable statement, much like the 500 foot tower.
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User: dirkcjelli
Date: 2007-04-03 17:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Put another way, why wouldn't a loving Father/Creator-God preserve His transmitted account of the state of the world through history and translation, when failure to do so would lead His followers into perdition and internecine conflict?

Isn't it irrational to assume that if there is a God, His text shouldn't be read in a straight forward (if not totally literal) fashion? After all, we don't have this much trouble intuiting what Homer's story was about... and his was as much a religious text as Kings or Judges, yes?
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-03 17:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I should think that since they built arches and domes, yes some people in those societies did. 22/7 works pretty well, I understand.

Though this shouldn't need to be said, I'm not mocking the ancient world, nor people of faith -- I'm mocking literalists...
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David Reagan
User: coolmajaka
Date: 2007-04-03 17:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi

t is sometimes claimed that the Bible states that π = 3, based on a passage in 1 Kings 7:23 (different scripture attributed, but same idea) giving measurements for a round basin as having a 10 cubit diameter and a 30 cubit circumference. Rabbi Nehemiah explained this by the diameter being measured from outside rim to outside rim while the circumference was the inner brim; but it may suffice that the measurements are given in round numbers. Alternately, the Hebrew word translated line can also mean measuring rod (cf Ezekiel 47:3). Five cubits is a convenient size for a measuring rod: long enough to be accurate, while not too long to be inconvenient. A five cubit measuring rod will mark off precisely six straight line segments around the brim of the basin. So the literal translation "a line of thirty cubits compassed it round about", meaning "a five cubit measuring rod marked off thirty cubits around the brim" would be precisely correct.

FWIW.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-03 17:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, sure. You can talk around anything. I don't have any problem whatsoever with the concept of a rough approximation, but I'm not a literalist. See kadath's comment about tower height above.

My whole point is if you take it literally, it's counterfactual.
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russ: watchmen
User: goulo
Date: 2007-04-03 17:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:watchmen
The original text said "10*π cubits", but then it got lost in translation somewhere along the line!
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David Reagan: graffiti_bear
User: coolmajaka
Date: 2007-04-03 19:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:graffiti_bear
Along with the 11th Commandment, "Thou shalt not go faster than the speed of light." :)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-03 19:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
To c, or not to c,: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of Newtonian travel,
Or to take arms against a sea of causality,
And by opposing end them? To hyperspace: to jump;
No more; and by superluminal travel we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That species is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.
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aries_jordan: Celestina
User: aries_jordan
Date: 2007-04-03 19:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Celestina
Since the cubit is the length of a person's forearm, it varied every time it was used. Perhaps God, or whomever, used several different forearms to measure the distance, such that the math worked out to a more accurate value of pi.

Um, is there any particular reason "he" made a round molten pond?
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: dirkcjelli
Date: 2007-04-04 14:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If this is true, any statement predicated on faith is unfalsifiable, and hence equivalent to "my magic cat made the universe."
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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2007-04-03 21:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hey! Don't kick locusts out of the four-legged category, or else they might not be clean anymore, and we'd no longer be able to eat them!
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake: signs-grocerys
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-03 22:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:signs-grocerys
Let's go shopping!
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2007-04-04 02:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I keep on telling ya, you pay too much attention to those damn literalists and it'll make your brain hurt.

Sensible people know the Bible was complied by an anthologist with an interesting sense of humor. Although the humor was insufficient to leave out the Cabbage Roll Account in Genesis.
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Brian Dolton
User: tchernabyelo
Date: 2007-04-04 08:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Actuially, the value of Pi is 3.


In a Greek scrabble set.




Actually, I'm sure I recall reading a (perhaps apocryphal) report that, based precisely on that Bible passage, some US state actually tried to pass legislation to make pi 3. Hang on while I check snopes... aha, and indeed, it started as an April Fool joke on the Internet.


Oh, the internet. It have much guilt, oh yes it do.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-04-12 18:59 (UTC)
Subject: Correction
The verse is a mistranslation. When the translators of the septuagint (from which this verse would have been translated) would find what appeared to be an error, they would not correct it per-se, but would write a correction in the margins. Now, it is important to note that when numbers are being conveyed from hebrew, the method is quite different from our english numer system. Every letter in hebrew has a numerical value. The number is communicated by using a word with the letters that, when added, have that particular number value. I suggest you do somme research into the words used in the hebrew manuscripts, but from off the top of my head, the words "compaassed ir round about" are translated from a single hebrew word. That word is the hebrew equivilant of what we would call the "circumference'. In the original text, the word is misspelled. As a result the scribes translating it, wrote the correction in the margins, but if you take the numerical value of the original word, and the value of the proper spelling for the circumference, their ratio yields a value of 111/106 cubits, which is equal to 31.41509433962 cubits. so, this 10 cubit long (in diameter) had a circumference of 31.41509433962. Now, the question is, how did king solomon manage to measure that?

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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-04-12 19:01 (UTC)
Subject: Correction
The verse is a mistranslation. When the translators of the septuagint (from which this verse would have been translated) would find what appeared to be an error, they would not correct it per-se, but would write a correction in the margins. Now, it is important to note that when numbers are being conveyed from hebrew, the method is quite different from our english numer system. Every letter in hebrew has a numerical value. The number is communicated by using a word with the letters that, when added, have that particular number value. I suggest you do somme research into the words used in the hebrew manuscripts, but from off the top of my head, the words "compaassed ir round about" are translated from a single hebrew word. That word is the hebrew equivilant of what we would call the "circumference'. In the original text, the word is misspelled. As a result the scribes translating it, wrote the correction in the margins, but if you take the numerical value of the original word, and the value of the proper spelling for the circumference, their ratio yields a value of 111/106 cubits, which is equal to 31.41509433962 cubits. so, this 10 cubit long (in diameter) had a circumference of 31.41509433962. Now, the question is, how did king solomon manage to measure that?

If i may post a link, there is a source which describes this in slightly more detail, and has documented sources which you can check for validity.

http://www.khouse.org/articles/1998/158/#notes
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-12 22:25 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Correction
I'm fine with this, but then I'm not a literalist. You've underscored my own point...as soon as you have to resort to translation errors and context issues, you've lost the argument on Biblical inerrancy. The argument only holds water if it's literally true -- you don't get to pick which parts are literally true and which parts are subject to interpretation, then defend yourself with the innerancy principle.
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