PI In the Bible (Oh no! Not again!)

From: Fraser Orr (ifo@xnet.com)
Date: Fri Oct 20 2000 - 09:20:42 MDT

>From: "John Clark" <jonkc@worldnet.att.net>
Fraser Orr <ifo@xnet.com> Wrote:
>All measurements are expressed to a degree of accuracy.
>But this measurement wasn't made by you or me, it was made
>by the omnipotent omniscient creator of the universe

Sorry, John, I am hoist on my own petard. What I actually
meant to say was "all measurements are expressed to a degree
of precision" rather than accuracy. So then, the measurements
are not especially precise (though they are exactly the sort
of precision one would expect in a predecimal society), but
imprecision is not error. Despite your attempts to derive
a mathematical meaning to the words, the simple fact is that
it is a matter of fact statement, from which we would expect
little precision, (though hopefully no error.)

Even in our time we recognize this. If I want to indicate that
an item is 1 mm long, to the nearest micron, I would express it
as 1.000mm. Or at least that is the way I was taught. Such is
an acknowledgement that accuracy <> precision.

>and so
>I expect just a little bit more, after all, he can thumb his nose at
>Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. For that matter he could just
>change the value of PI so the passage would be correct, but He
>didn't. And He did something even more unforgivable, I expect
>better writing ability from God than the Japanese gentleman who
>wrote the "English" assembly instructions for my stereo cabinet.

I don't know what Heisenberg has to do with it, however, it is
clear that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a
round object is not always pi. If the round object is slightly
elliptical, there are a range of "diameters", some of which give
a ratio less than pi, some more.

Once again, it seems to be assumed that this object was a mathematical
experiment. It was not. It was not even a description of how to
make a particular object. It was simply a description of an object,
according to the precision of the time. There is no reason to believe
that the dimensions were exact (in fact, it is essentially impossible
to make anything exactly the length of some standard unit of measure)
and there is no reason to believe it was a mathematically perfect

You might say, well the omnipotent God could make a perfect circle
or an item with an exact length. Perhaps you'd be right. However,
this object, as is evident from the passage, was not made by God,
but by a bronzeworker named Hiram.

So once again, it is perfectly possible to make a circle diameter
ten cubits, circumference 30 cubits, as long as you recognize that
this means "to the nearest cubit". Which hardly seems an unreasonable

If you really want to prove that this passage is in error, you need
to prove both of these two things: one that the measurements were
meant to be taken to a precision greater than the one stated, and
two, that the object described as "round" was a perfect circle (or
a close approximation of a circle to a high degree of precision).
I don't think either is provable, in fact, I think both are
extremely unlikely to be true.

However, as I said, I feel a little uncomfortable with this discussion
here. It is not at all relevant to the subject of this list. I feel
particularly so as a new contributor. So, as the saying goes, that is
all she wrote.

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