The Instigator
Freeman
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
KRFournier
Con (against)
Winning
75 Points

The Bible is not inerrant.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/1/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,840 times Debate No: 9390
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (14)
Votes (17)

 

Freeman

Pro

I will demonstrate that the Bible could not possibly be inerrant using a mathematical proof.

(The Bible) 1Kings 7:23- And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. [1]

The Diameter D = 10 cubits

The Circumference C = 30 cubits

30/10 = 3

According to the Bible (mathematical Pi) = 3

The actual value for (mathematical Pi) is 3.1415926535897932384626433832795… [2]

Q.E.D. The Bible is not inerrant.

[1] http://skepticsannotatedbible.com...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...

Definitions

Inerrancy - Freedom from error
en.wiktionary.org/wiki/inerrancy

Best,
Freeman
KRFournier

Con

I thank Freeman for posting this debate as I have seen the argument in the past and desire to put the issue to rest.

REBUTTAL

1. Fallacy of equating imprecision with errancy.

My opponent is free to assert that 1 Kings 7:23 is imprecise, but it does logically follow that it is errant. My opponent interprets the language as though the measurements are exact. The scripture does not say "exactly" 10 or 30 cubits, nor were cubits exact measurements. [1] It is more reasonable to interpret these values as approximations, in which case my opponent's mathematical "proof" holds no water. Approximately speaking, pi is 3. Approximately speaking, the bible is correct here.

My opponent must provide convincing proof that we should take these measurements as precise before he can argue that such imprecision equals errant.

2. Fallacy of observational selection/argumentum ad ignorantiam.

The second fallacy depends on how intellectually honest my opponent is being. He either selectively omits the rest of the vessel's dimensions or he hopes to take advantage of reader ignorance on the subject.

"23 He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it.
24 Below the rim, gourds encircled it--ten to a cubit. The gourds were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea.
25 The Sea stood on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east. The Sea rested on top of them, and their hindquarters were toward the center.
26 It was a handbreadth in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held two thousand baths." - 1 Kings 7:23 - 26

The omission of verse 26 is grave indeed, as it reminds us that the vessel is a real physical object and not an abstract geometrical circle. In other words, it has a thickness. The scripture clearly tells us the bowl's diameter was measured from rim to rim, so there is no mistaking it as an outer diameter. However, the scripture is vague on whether the circumference is inner or outer. This leaves us with two possible equations:

pi = 30 cubits / 10 cubits
pi = 30 cubits / (10 cubits - 2 handbreadths)

Assuming a cubit is 18 inches [1] (for the sake of calculations) and a handbreadth is 4 inches [2], we have the following two possible equations:

pi = 540 inches / 180 inches = 3
pi = 540 inches / (180 inches - 8 inches) = 540 inches / 172 inches = 3.13953488372093

Again, neither value is precise, but the approximations are correct. In fact, when you consider that the cubits were measured using string and someone's arm length, the values make mathematical sense. After all, a calculation of pi can only be as precise as the measurements used in the equation.

3. Hebrew is alphanumeric and may store a more mathematically accurate adjustment.

The Hebrew alphabet is alphanumeric, and each letter may also be used as a number with a predefined value. Usually, the Hebrew word for circumference is "qv," whose numerical value is 106 [3]. However, in this passage, the alternate spelling of the same word, "qvh," is used, whose numerical value is 111 [3]. If the ratio of 111/106 (qvh/qv) is applied to the measurement of 30 cubits, then we have the following formula:

pi = (30 cubits * (111 / 106)) / 10 cubits = 31.41509433962264 cubits / 10 cubits = 3.141509433962264

This still does not get as precise as the value we know today, but it should serve to show the readers that much of what we interpret from any ancient writing should take into account the culture and language of that day, which my opponent has failed to do.

CONCLUSION

My opponent's argument is logically fallacious throughout. He fallaciously equates approximations with inaccuracies, and he either willfully or mistakenly ignores culturally relevant techniques of that era. Until Freeman explains why the measurements should be accepted as precise and why my alternative theories should be outright rejected, his arguments shall remain heretofore invalid and the resolution negated.

SOURCES

1. http://www.britannica.com...
2. http://www.britannica.com...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Pro

It's been a while since my opponent and I have debated so I thank him for his time and his meticulous attention to detail.

================
Case Pro- Rebuttals
================

A.)" Assuming a cubit is 18 inches [1] (for the sake of calculations) and a handbreadth is 4 inches [2], we have the following two possible equations:

pi = 540 inches / 180 inches = 3
pi = 540 inches / (180 inches - 8 inches) = 540 inches / 172 inches = 3.13953488372093"

My opponent has proven the resolution to be true even if we were to follow his tortuous logic. Pi does not equal 3.13953488372093. Pi equals 3.1415926535897932384626433832795…. [1]

B.) The claim that Pi equals 3 or 3.14 isn't just an imprecise. It's flat out untrue. Pi = 3.1415926535897932384626433832795…. and the number keeps running until infinity. To say that Pi = 3 or 3.14 would be an obvious mathematical error.

C. "The Hebrew alphabet is alphanumeric,… pi = (30 cubits * (111 / 106)) / 10 cubits = 31.41509433962264 cubits / 10 cubits = 3.141509433962264"
Pi does not equal 3.141509433962264. Twas a valiant effort at any rate young squire. - Twas is an actual word by the way.

===================
The Triumph of Reason
===================

1.) Lets pretend that I take a math test and on that math test I encounter the problem. 2+2 =.
If I were to write that 2+2=4.1 would I be correct? (No) Could I reasonably expect my teacher to give me credit for that response? (No). Would the answer 4.1 constitute an incorrect mathematical response to the equation 2 +2=? (Yes)
Likewise, stating that Pi = 3.14 would also constitute a mathematical error. Pi is an irrational number and the decimal place for Pi runs to infinity; this is why we use Pi instead of 3 or 3.14 to calculate the volumes of cylinders. [2]

2.) My logic is inescapable.
"(The Bible) 1Kings 7:23- And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about."
30/10 =3
3 does not = Mathematical Pi
3.13953488372093 does not = Mathematical Pi
3.141509433962264 does not = Mathematical Pi
No amount of casuistry or elusion will ever make (mathematical Pi) = 3 or 3.13953488372093-

===========
Conclusion
===========

1.) The Bible contains an obvious mathematical inaccuracy and thus has an error.
2.) It is logically impossible for something to both contain an error and be inerrant.
3.) The Bible does contain an error and thus is not inerrant.
Vote Con

Best,
Freeman

Sources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org......
[2] http://www.ehow.com...
KRFournier

Con

I thank my opponent for his quick response. This may very well be the first debate I finished within half a day's time.

PRO'S REBUTTAL

My opponent says, "The claim that Pi equals 3 or 3.14 isn't just an imprecise. It's flat out untrue." Dear readers, please recognize that the Bible never claimed that Pi equals anything. The Bible makes NO claim about Pi. It merely offers approximate measurements of an ancient object. My opponent's attempt to take these measurements and then twist them into a non-existent claim is highly erroneous. It is non-sequitur to say that because the bible offers measurements of a circle that the Bible is making an absolute claim that Pi equals 3.

THE TRIUMPH OF REASON

Pro's next two points hardly come close to a "triumph of reason."

1. My opponent's own logic defeats his argument. Indeed, to answer 2 + 2 = 4.1 would be egregious. Likewise, to say that 30 / 10 = 3.1415926535897932384626433832795 is also wrong. This is due to significant digits. In science, the result only carries as many significant digits as is provided in the data. [1]I'm not sure what my opponent intends to prove here. The scripture in question never actually provided its own value of Pi, so there isn't anything to compare our results to. Given the precision of the inputs, the output is correct.

2. My opponent claims his logic is inescapable, but then he does absolutely nothing to respond to my rebuttals other than to dismiss them. I asked him to explain why the measurements are to be taken as exact values and not approximations. I asked him to explain why the alternate interpretations ought to be dismissed. His only answer is to say that the results do not equal Pi. This is question begging to the highest degree.

By way of analogy, imagine I were describing my backyard pool to someone and said that it was 10 feet across and 30 feet around. This is not an error as my description allows the listener to imagine my pool with sufficient accuracy. I know I sound like a broken record, but imprecise does not equal error, and my opponent has not shown us why this assertion is false.

CONCLUSION

Even if you do not agree with my alternative equations, my opponent has failed to address the approximation issue. The fact that we do not have precise measurements does not permit us to logically conclude that there is an error. Therefore, my opponent has failed to uphold the resolution, so I urge the readers to vote Con.

SOURCES

1. http://www.physics.uoguelph.ca...
Debate Round No. 2
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by daniel_t 7 years ago
daniel_t
KRFournier:

Under what conditions would your rebuttal (the bible isn't wrong, it's just imprecise) not apply? For example, Realist brings up a Biblical contradiction about when Jesus died, but couldn't you argue that the two gospels in question are simply imprecise and what they tell us is that Jesus died around passover?
Posted by gtvwls8 7 years ago
gtvwls8
you really should have worked that significant digits more. because technically speaking, both 30 and 10 are measured to only 1 sigfig, so the answer should be only one sig fig, which it is.
Posted by MTGandP 7 years ago
MTGandP
KRFournier makes a valid point. The imprecision was not really an error, just an estimate. Freeman, your argument has potential, but you should properly define "error" first. Or you could just say "the Bible is imprecise." But that still leaves the point that the object was probably not perfectly round.
Posted by Realist 7 years ago
Realist
Very well, I will put up a debate about the perfection of the Bible. I look forward to the lively discussion it will no doubt lead to :)

I've got to post a reply to another debate today before heading off to work this evening so if it's not up in the next few hours or so I'll post it tomorrow.
Posted by KRFournier 7 years ago
KRFournier
That is quite a blanket claim. Usually, these kinds of "contradiction" arguments tend to suffer from the observational selection fallacy. That is, two passages are used without reference to historical or cultural context. Feel free to start a debate to show such a contradiction, and you'll find that a proper exegesis of Hebrew and Greek coupled with an understanding of ancient literature often resolves the apparent issue.

That being said, the resolution of "The Bible is not inerrant" is a hefty one, so it was practical to focus on one piece. The issue of Pi = 3 is one I've seen before and I'm glad Freeman gave me the opportunity to openly deliberate the issue.
Posted by Realist 7 years ago
Realist
You don't need a mathematical proof to demonstrate that the Bible is not inerrant. Simply look at one of the many contractions within it. For example, Jesus being killed on the day before Passover in one Gospel and on the day after in another Gospel, yet both hold that he only died once.

Belief in God is fine, it may very well be true, but to say the Bible we have today is perfect is simply false unfortunately.
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
PRO apparently thinks that the Bible should have said:
"1Kings 7:23- And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty-one and four hundred and fifteen thousandths cubits did compass it round about."
Even then, it would still not equal pi exactly.
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
Sig figs FTW.

Therefore, arguments and sources to CON.
Posted by Feldmm1 7 years ago
Feldmm1
I agree with pro, but I think con argued better. I think con should have provided an argument for the bible being inerrant, but Pro did not raise that point.
Posted by Freeman 7 years ago
Freeman
If something is innerant then it doesnt contain any errors. I negate that view by claiming that the bible is not innerant.

Here is what I actually wrote
"Q.E.D. The Bible is not inerrant."

Neither I nor KFRournier switched sides. We both wrote coherently.- Focus
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