Asimov on 1 Kings 7:23
As we discussed in this blog entry, 1 Kings 7:23, taken on its face, implies that pi equals three.
Just out of curiousity, I thumbed through my copy of Asimov's Guide to the Bible, by Isaac Asimov, just to see what he had to say on the subject. I reproduce his brief analysis in full:
The exact function of the “molten sea” is not stated, though it seems most likely that it was a container for water used in the various rituals. The interesting point is that its upper rim seems to be circular in shape with a diameter of ten cubits and a circumference of thirty cubits. This is impossible, for the ratio of the circumference to the diameter (a ratio called “pi” by mathematicians) is given here as 30/10=3, whereas the real value of pi is an unending decimal which begins 3.14159... If the molten sea were really ten cubits in diameter it would have to be just under thirty-one and a half cubits in circumference.
The explanation is, of course, that the Biblical writers were not mathematicians or even interested in mathematics and were merely giving approximate figures. Still, to those who are obsessed with the notion that every word in the Bible is infallible (and who know a little mathematics) it is bound to come as a shock to be told that the Bible says that the value of pi is 3.
Exactly right, and, as I recall, almost exactly what I said.