In the News story about scientists’ response to creationists, the scientists “comment that the Bible says that π is 3, not 3.14” (Nature 398, 453; 1999).

The biblical verse quoted (1 Kings 7:23) reads in part: “⃛measuring 10 cubits from rim to rim⃛ It took a line of of 30 cubits to measure around it”. Indeed, 30/10 equals 3, but further on in verse 26 it says: “It was a handbreadth in thickness⃛”. Assuming that a cubit measured 18 inches and a handbreadth 3 inches, the inner diameter of the bowl would be 174 inches (10 × 18 − 2 × 3), and the inner circumference would be 540 inches (30 × 18). This yields a value for π of 540/174 or 3.10. This is about a 1 per cent error from the typical value for π of 3.14. Although we do not know the exact length of a cubit or a handbreadth, this result is very close to the actual value of π.