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August 4, 2005

Editorial Department
Star Tribune
425 Portland Av.
Minneapolis, MN 55488

To the editor:

Conservatives are applauding President Bush because he has again called for teaching intelligent design as well as evolution in the public schools.  He believes that “both sides should be properly taught”.  Eagerness to hear competing theories is a value that he shares with people who are interested in science.  I hope that conservatives will expand the scope of their plans to improve education to include math as well as biology.  Just as they think education of our children would be served by putting labels on biology text books reminding students that evolution is a scientific theory, not fact, math books should have labels warning students that some of the math taught in our schools is only theory. 

Specifically I am thinking of the value of pi, which defines the relationship between the circumference and the diameter of a circle.  Many generations of mathematicians have sought the value of pi and failed.  Even the application of computers has chased the number out to millions of places without successfully finding it.  What more proof does anybody need to demonstrate that the theory of pi proposed by mathematicians is no more valuable than the theory of evolution proposed by biologists? 

There is an alternative theory. King Solomon built a table (I Kings 7:23) that was ten cubits in diameter and thirty cubits around. The double-strength authority of the Bible and one of the wisest men to ever live affirms that the value of pi is simply three. If the math establishment would accept this theory instead of fussing with millions of unnecessary places, a great many problems in the history of math would be easily solved. Those not trained in math could do calculations involving pi with greater facility and mathematics simplicity would raise the test scores of our children. And I do not think it was an accident that Bush delivered his most recent call in a “round table discussion” with reporters. No doubt the biblically defined value of pi will meet as much hostility from entrenched educators as intelligent design has, but I hope that President Bush and the conservatives will advocate for tolerance and free discussion in math as well as biology.

We have a splendid opportunity for conservatives and scientists to come together in support of the President when he says ”part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought.”

Chris Sullivan