Pi in the Bible

My bachelor of science degree is in Mathematics. One of my favorite courses was called Math History. I liked it so much, I even did a summer internship that involved designing a math history course for non-math major students. I was even allowed to co-teach some of those classes with the other interns. Yesterday was March 14th, also known as "Pi(π) Day". Why is March 14th (3/14) known as Pi Day? Do you remember in school learning that the value of π ≈ 3.14? You needed this value to approximate the circumference and area of a circle. Some of you who went to more advanced math classes also used it in Trigonometry and Calculus. Really, it is just a day to celebrate with some math humor, learn fun facts about this famous irrational number, and eat a slice of a round pastry. My husband was actually the one who reminded me of the day when he showed me a post from a Christian musician about his own celebration of Pi Day.

During my undergrad work, I learned that the value of pi was actually mentioned in the Bible. The ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter is represented by the lower Greek letter π (pi). This value is consistent, no matter the size of the circle. The circumference is the measure of the border of the circle and the diameter is the length across the circle, through it's center. All of this is to not only give you a quick lesson in math, but also to understand how the ratio is found in the Bible. Although the symbol is not mentioned, the understanding of it is. In 1 Kings, King Solomon is building the Temple.

1 Kings 7:23 (Christian Standard Bible): He made the cast metal basin, 15 feet from brim to brim, perfectly round. It was 7½ feet high and 45 feet in circumference.

The circumference of this metal object is 45 feet and its diameter ("from brim to brim") is 15 feet. So, the ratio of circumference to diameter is 45/15 = 3. Three is a rough estimate of 3.14, which is itself a rounded number.

All of this is fascinating to me, not just because it is related to mathematics (one of my favorite subjects), but also the broader picture of His creation. God has planned out His creation. We are not here by accident. He designed all of us. He created the Sun and the Moon, and how long each Day and Night would be. He gave people different skills, along with their talents and spiritual gifts. He created the circle (look at flowers, your eyeballs, the planets, tree rings), and He has allowed us to study all of His creation. Let us enjoy every day that He gives us!

Exodus 31:1-6 -Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts — to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you.”

Genesis 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

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