3.141592653589793238 from the forgotten verses

From: bivalve (bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com)
Date: Wed Jun 04 2003 - 13:05:04 EDT

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    >why anyone should, (a) have believed the Hebrews incapable of detecting a 4.5% error in the value of pi (by assuming it to be 3 rather than its true value) (b) have assumed that Egyptian knowledge of this constant would have stopped short of its border with Israel, is really beyond understanding - unless, of course, the principal motive was the undermining of the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures.<

    Several other possible explanations arise. One possibility is that you have succumbed to atheistic or pagan mathematical teaching and that pi really is three. As far as I know, no one has seriously promoted this view, though atheists think this would be in keeping with young-earth style literalism.

    A much more reasonable answer to objection a is that the passage is not providing a value for pi. As a description of the Temple furnishings, one significant digit provides an accurate though rather imprecise value. Also, it is unlikely that the circularity of the basin or the measurement techniques were perfect. (I have seen the suggestion that the basin was hexagonal, based on the comparison to a lily, and thus exactly 10 across and 30 around. However, flowers are not perfect hexagons, either.)

    As to b, not only the Egyptians but also the Babylonians had a better approximation for pi than 3.0 by this time. However, the main use for involved mathematics at that time was for astrology. There is a good theological reason for the Hebrews not to have cared much about the exact value of pi.

        Dr. David Campbell
        Old Seashells
        University of Alabama
        Biodiversity & Systematics
        Dept. Biological Sciences
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    That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at Droitgate Spa


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