Friday, December 18, 2009

104: Pi = 3

1 Kings 6-7
He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. - 1 Kings 7:23

Let me summarize these two chapters, then we'll talk about pi. Solomon builds a temple. Solomon builds a palace. These are described in minute detail for 4 long pages. The end.

Ok, now that that's out of the way. As the quote says at the top of the page, the bible explicitly says that the ratio of the circumference of the bowl and the diameter is 30/10 = 3. Most of us that have gone through high school algebra/geometry/trigonometry know that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle (pi) is approximately 3.14 (3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679... to be a little more exact). A cubit is approximately one and a half feet, so you'd think the people measuring the bowl would at least notice that the bowl was thirty one cubits around.

I googled this just to see what people thought. The most common cop out is that the people making the bowl measured the circumference from the inner rim and the diameter from the outer rim (of course, the size of the rim is made to be whatever makes the value of pi 3.14). First the bible doesn't say that. Second, why would they give measurements from different positions? Actually, why are they giving us measurements at all, especially incorrect ones?

This whole argument is silly anyway. It's not like people think of this book as "absolute truth" or use it to counter scientific theories like evolution. It's pretty well understood that this book is just the best approximation of the real world that an ancient society with no scientific knowledge could come up with. Everyone knows that, right?

*News*
Rod Parsley needs money. The devil has taken all of his.

To understand how the devil got all of the Rod's money, we have to go back to 2006. Parents (who remain unnamed) pick up their then two year old son from Parsley's mega-church daycare center. The child seems upset but the teacher says that no incident occurred. Later that day the parents find fresh cuts and red marks on their son's bottom. They immediately took him to the childrens hospital. The doctors there found his injuries to be consistent with physical abuse.

Fast forward to 2009, Parsley's church settles with the family of the boy for 3 million dollars. Is this the "demonically inspired financial attack" Rod speaks of? A two year old boy? Maybe he shouldn't allow children to be abused at his facilities, just a thought.

(via Clevland Scene)

8 comments:

  1. i just wanted to tell you that i thoroughly enjoy your blog, you joke that you have no readers- YOU DO! keep writing :-)

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  2. Michael and Lacey Faieta are the parents.

    Their court case went all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court,and that decision is online.

    http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/docs/pdf/10/2008/2008-Ohio-6959.pdf

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  3. Maybe its a metaphore for a triangle shaped bowl? XD

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  4. It's a metaphor for the fact that we are all 0.14 cubits off of the perfect standard of holiness that God has set up for us.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. I believe I addressed this argument, I'll do it again.

    If someone measures the diameter of a circular object from the outer rim (which I agree is the most obvious way to do it) wouldn't they also measure the circumference from the outside rim? Measuring from two different orientations is an inconsistency in and of itself.

    Another point, for the life of me I can't figure out how to make a handsbreadth equal four inches. My hand (a pretty average hand in my opinion) is 8 inches from the tip of my thumb to the tip of my pinky. From my wrist to the tip of my middle finger it is 7 inches. And my hand measured horizontally is 3 inches. From my basic observation it seems like you're making the numbers what you want them to be, so that the result fits.

    Further damaging your argument is that you took it verbatim from a pro Christian website http://www.purplemath.com/modules/bibleval.htm I'm sure they appreciate your plagiarism.

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  7. This is a story about some workers constructing a temple long before the invention of the ruler. Isn't it far more likely that they simply rounded down?

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  8. First off, it says "measure around it" not "measure inside it." Yes, the cubit may not have been a standardized measurement, but it would have been standardized within a given region, or at least for a given builder. If builder X used a cubit a bit longer or shorter than others, it would still be consistent within the scope of any given project by that builder.

    Also, the link Bryan posts talks about walking up and measuring things with your hands. Sure, that's fine for deciding the length of a curtain perhaps, but projects of any importance requires a great deal more precision than this. And it's not like folks in the region were incapable of precise measurements (hello, pyramids anyone?) If you just eyeball something and "guestimate" it, you won't end up with a precise shape at all.

    So that leaves us with the question of what they actually did to get the measurements. Perhaps the author was a priest who was as unconcerned then with scientific accuracy as many priests/preachers are today? Perhaps he looked at the finished product as guessed. Or had one of the measurements but not both and couldn't remember the math correctly to find the other measurement. Or maybe a later copyist didn't care a whit about geometry and fudged the math.

    No matter what really happened, though, we are left with the fact that these measurements cannot be accurate without cheating and supplying numbers that we aren't given (the so-called inner vs. outer rim). Once again, rather than admit a fault in the text, biblical apologists would rather insert wild-ass guesses to solve the problem. Why? Because faith is more important and accuracy.

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