TOM THE DANCING BUG: The Truth About Numbers… Bible Math!


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And while we’re at it, who are these scientists to tell us the Earth is round? I think their agenda is to push us off the edge!

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If you think this is going to convince me S{1+2+3+4…}= -1/12, try again cartoon-boy.


Who knew silverage Barry Allen was such a Bible Thumper?


And if you get tired of numbers, just remember what Ken Ham (of the Creation Museum) said:
“God invented marriage”.


My mind still boggles that apparently there are Fundamentalist Christians who object to shool txtbooks teaching about infinite sets. Apparently, as I understand their argument, once you start comparing the sizes of, for example, the set of positive integers and the set of rational numbers you start questioning the notion of an omnipotent God, or something.


Hmm… Not a fan of religion, but that’s a rather weak cartoon.

In such a text I wouldn’t expect exact numbers - in fact, they’d make me suspicious - and I’d like to hear a linguist’s opinion on the Ezra piece first, because it sounds awfully like 6 yard, 4 feet and 5 inch equal 270 inch.

(by the way, all translations I checked mention a sum 5,400 items, which look awfully like a round number to me (15 *360, for example.)


There is an asymptotic moment of sarcasm that when reached, excludes the very people it concerns from grokking the joke.
This is close.


Someone should pay to run this as a full page ad in several bible belt newspapers. Cook some popcorn, sit back and watch the comedy.


I did a quick google search and it looks like the 5,400 number is a receipt for the total value of the items. 30 basins of gold, 1000 basins of silver, etc…

If you give someone a 20 and they give you two 10s back, you aren’t cheating math and doubling your money.

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well, I checked at the Hebrew source, and it’s definitely a sum of items.
it says 30+1000+29+30+410+1000=5400, not 5469 as Ruben wrote, but still funny.

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I don’t think anyone would notice that it was satire, or very few people at least.

It’s a bad argument to have with a christian, because the implication is “the Bible gets math wrong, so it’s wrong”, and then the christian gets to say “no, you’re misreading it. The math is right, so the Bible is right”. Obviously that’s a fallacious conclusion, but it’s an easy one to make, and why set them up for shooting down your point?

Pi works out fine if you assume there’s a lip of a particular size on the vessel being described, that they walked around it to get the circumference, and measured across the inside for the diameter, and you don’t derive pi because you’re dealing with two different circles.

The easiest explanation for Ezra is that it isn’t an exhaustive list. I have 3 dress shirts and 5 short sleeve shorts and all my shirts number 18. It looks wrong because they use ‘vessel’ twice, but now we have to argue about what those phrases meant exactly in ancient greek or hebrew, and they can always fall back on there being small corruptions of old testament text over thousands of years, but that the basic truths were preserved.

As great as it would be for the Bible to have blatant mathematical errors, it seems more likely that the text changed slightly with all the retellings and copyings than that nobody could figure out what 1,000 + 1,000 added up to.

All that said, what is up with the objection to infinite sets? It’s funny how small some people’s Gods are, that they can’t be infinite or coexist with the idea of infinity, that Earth must be the center, because God couldn’t possibly have made multiple worlds, that there’s no way God could be as subtle as to use evolution…

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Did you notice that the real sum of 30+1000+29+30+410+1000 is 2499, which isn’t anywhere near 5400 even with rounding?


No, in that case you’d get a value for pi that was larger than 3.141…, not smaller.

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As JonS says this gives the wrong answer, but whatever, you can always reverse what measurement refers to what as needed, right?

So it’s exactly that: pi works out fine if you assume. If you already know the right answer, you can invent a way to interpret the passage that agrees with it. If you simply start with the passage and try to find the answer from it, though, you will probably get it wrong. I’m sure there’s no lesson about fundamentalism in that.


This is frustrating because the cartoon’s concept is brilliant, and I was about to send it to some fundamentalist relatives of mine… but then checking the Bible, and these comments, I have to say that Reuben might be the one in error, and that his point is actually not a point at all. I mean, yes, I agree with his point overall, but you can’t argue it by misunderstanding the Bible- at least that’s the case with the Ezra passage, since obviously people knew how to add back then- clearly there’s something else going on that’s more about language translation and less about taking the Bible literally.

With Pi, I’m still a little unsure. Is this just a case of people rounding off to the nearest “cubit” standard? I mean, I can draw a circle without having any clue what Pi is, so it’s not like they needed to know the value of Pi exactly to be able to build things- in which case, Reuben’s argument, that the Bible’s technical grasp is incomplete and shouldn’t be taken literally, is well-taken.

While I enjoyed that article, I wish to note, that - to one significant digit, pi is 3. And in the example in the bible, one significant digit is appropriate. There are far better examples of the Bible being literally wrong, although they don’t fit this joke as well.

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This doesn’t even mention the “three equals one” theory promoted by Catholocism.


[quote=“Polama, post:14, topic:22614”]
It’s a bad argument to have with a christian, because the implication is “the Bible gets math wrong, so it’s wrong”, and then the christian gets to say “no, you’re misreading it. The math is right, so the Bible is right”.
[/quote] But it’s a good argument to have with a Creationist, because the Bible is full of parables and tales obviously collected and collated hundreds of years after the fact. It is not holy writ handed down but man’s collection of thoughts on the matter. They need to realize this fact if they want their faith to stop being mocked openly.