THE VALUE OF PI

               1 Kings 7:23 Also he made a molten sea, ten cubits from one brim to the other: it was 
               round all about, and its height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it 
               round about.
AND
               2 Chronicles 4:2 Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in 
               compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it 
               round about.

How can anyone who believes that the Bible is the word of God, and that every word in it is sacred truth, reconcile that belief with this explicit, bald statement that pi=3? The truth is that pi is an irrational and transcendental number, whose value is approximately 3.14159

Rabbi Nehemia in his book Mishnat ha-Midot (ca 150 AD) thought he had found a loophole. Both descriptions say, three verses later: "And it was an hand breadth thick" (1 Kings 7:26) and "And the thickness of it was an hand-breadth" (2 Chronicles 4:5). He asserted that this showed that the basin in the temple had a wide rim, and therefore the diameter was measured from the outside of the rim while the circumference was measured along the inside of the rim. This transparent sophistry is actually an admission that the statement in the Bible is wrong, and must be somehow explained away.

The Catholic Church had a simpler solution. Books by Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo. and Descartes were banned; Galileo was tried for heresy; and the Spanish Inquisition imprisoned and executed people for the crime of possessing Arab manuscripts dealing with mathematics.