Re: Evolution's Imperative

Kevin O'Brien (
Thu, 25 Mar 1999 19:27:47 -0700

>First, regarding the early Hebrews' understanding of 'Pi':
>In 1Ki.7:23-26, we read of the construction of a large cylinder. A
>diameter is given (10 cubits - about 180"); a circumference (30 cubits -
>about 540"); and a wall thickness (a 'handbreadth' - about 4"). Taking
>the first as the outer diameter, and the second as the inner
>circumference, we arrive at a reasonable value for Pi (correct to

Of course it would, if you took the outer diameter to determine an outer
circumference or the inner circumference to determine an inner diameter.
The value for pi in the first case would be 3.14 and in the second case
would be 3.125, for standard error values of 0.050% and 0.53%, respectively.
But that takes advantage of the fact that we know what the correct value
should be so we can pick and choose how we want to visualize the problem so
that it will give us the right answer. The ancient Hebrews could not do
that, so the only way we can know how they would have calculated pi is to
read the Scripture. The Bible does not say that the diameter given is the
outer diameter and that the circumference given is the inner circumference.
In fact, from the way the verses read at face value, it sounds very much
like a circumference and diameter for the same circle. That would then make
pi 3, which is what the Egyptians assumed it was. But of course the real
issue is not the value of pi, but the fact that a circle of 10 cubits
diameter cannot have a circumference of 30 cubits, or vice versa. In that
respect, a face value reading of Scripture gives the wrong information.

Another problem with your scenario: a cylinder with an outer diameter of 10
cubits and an inner circumference of 30 cubits cannot have a thickness of
only a single handbreadth (one-quarter of a cubit). It must have a
thickness of half a cubit -- two handbreadths -- to be a proper Euclidian
cylinder (10 cubit outer diameter minus a 9.5 cubit inner diameter leaves
0.5 cubit thickness). So either the cylinder was not Euclidian, or the
Scriptural passage is wrong for yet another reason. Or the passage is
simply not to be taken literally, in which case even though God said it, we
don't have to accept it as literally true.

Wich in turn means that there can be other passages that need not be taken
literally, even though God said them.

>Why should we ever have supposed that - as neighbours of the
>pyramid builders - they would be as ignorant as Kevin and others

Don't try to weasel out of this, Vernon. My point, as ever and always, is
that if we use your super-literal, face-value approach to Scripture, we
cannot assume that the 10 cubits corresponds to the outer diameter and that
the 30 cubits corresponds to the inner circumference. All we can say is
that we have a bowl that is 30 cubits around and 10 cubits across. Using
these two values only, without trying to read into or interpret the
Scriptures as you demand, we would get a value for pi of 3. And since this
is God Himself talking in these Scriptures, the value for pi must be 3;
otherwise God would have said that the 30 cubit around bowl would have been
9.5 cubits across, or that the 10 cubit across bowl would have been 31.5
cubits around.

The only way to reconcile this problem is to disregard your approach to
Scripture and **interpret** the Scripture as referring to dimensions of two
different parts of the bowl. Which is exactly what you do above. In other
words, you will lay down the law to TEs about how they must approach
Scripture, but you will disregard that law for your own convenience. What
do you think that says about your intellectual integrity?

>Then,concerning 'Adam'. In view of his great significance in the
>Gospel's scheme of things, could I know how you regard him? Was he a
>real person - the first man, and special creation of God - from whom the
>first woman was made (as described in Gn.2)? Or was he one of many
>hominids (females already being part of the general scenario) chosen
>from the 'herd' to receive God's special blessing? Or, again, perhaps he
>was just a mythological figure. Or, perhaps some don't think it really

Th Garden of Eden story is clearly a Semetic creation myth, like many others
in that area of the world. It in fact has a number levels built into it as
has changed over the centuries from a simple tale told by simple folk to
being a fundamental part of two major religions.

For example, if you take the meaning of the original Hebrew words that are
now translated into "till" and "keep", you discover that Adam was originally
meant to be a slave, a beast-of-burden and watch-dog. This casts a whole
new light on the rest of the story: the animals God created (after Adam)
were suppose to help Adam do his work; Eve was created to be a sex-toy to
keep Adam distracted and to be a brood-mare to produce more slaves; the
serpent becomes a sympathetic character, trying to help Adam and Even escape
their bondage; the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil gives
Adam and Eve godlike intelligence, setting them above the animals mentally
as well as physically; the fruit also gives them a soul, so that they can
regognize good from evil; they hide from God walking in the Garden out of
fear that He would destroy them; instead God curses them and drives them out
of the Garden, in fear that they might find and eat of the fruit of the tree
of life and become gods themselves; yet despite the curse Adam and Even
flourish rather than die or capitulate to their fate, so God grudgingly
begins a new different relationship with mankind. This alternative view is
actually in better keeping with other Semetic creation myths, as well as
many other creation myths around the world. It also has a profound
influence on other events in Genesis, such as the flood (in which God
finally decides He can no longer put up with "rebellious" man and so tries
to destroy all of creation so He can start over, but when Noah not only
manages to survive but to save creation as well, God so marvels at his
ingenuity that He repents of His hatred toward mankind and enters into a
peace covenant with Noah), as well as God's relationship with Abraham and
the children of Israel.

Much of this original layer got re-edited when the Hebrews started to
rethink their concept of God, but it still exists within the Hebrew words

My own personal belief is that when God made the universe, He let it develop
on its own until intelligent life appeared on earth (and elsewhere for that
matter) that eventually evolved to a point where it began to ask moral and
religious questions: who are we; why do we exist; is there a purpose to
life; and so on. God then stepped in, adopted that lifeform (us) and gave
us the gift of souls, so that we would become like Him. The story of Adam
and Eve is thus a metaphor for that event.

But that is just my private belief.

Kevin L. O'Brien