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.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Peil, K. Biblical answer to cooking up pi. Nature 399, 522 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1038/21064
This article is cited by
Visit heaven and hell ahead of schedule