The Knights Templar and the Flat Earth

That’s right, our title is your clue that we’ve finally gone over the edge. But maybe not. You can decide after you’ve read this historic post.

Everyone has heard of the Knights Templar. It is commonly believed that their principal mission was the protection of pilgrims visiting the Holy Land when it was occupied after the First Crusade. Over the centuries, myths and legends have developed, and fictional purposes have been invented for the Templars. They are frequently associated with Freemasonry, and in The Da Vinci Code they were said to have had a far more sinister motive than the cover-story of protecting pilgrims. All of that, however, is likely to be fiction. But what’s the real story?

Your Curmudgeon, after decades of solitary research, has at last discovered The Truth — which we herewith reveal to you. But first we’ll start with what is known and undisputed.

It’s well-documented that the Templars occupied the site of the Temple of Solomon. They were headquartered on the Temple Mount. In fact, the full name of their order was “Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.” Fine, but where do we go from there? If we ask why they chose that specific location, the answer to the age-old mystery emerges. You still don’t see it? Okay, brace yourself, dear reader — here it comes.

The ultimate mission of the Templars was to determine the accuracy of the scriptural value of pi at the Temple Mount. Everyone knows — and some knew at the time of the First Crusade, that pi is “really” 3.14159 etc., but did that value hold true for the site of the Temple? Discovering the value of pi at that sacred location was the Templar’s secret purpose.

Have we lost our Curmudgeonly mind? No, not yet — at least we don’t think so. Bear with us a while longer. As you already know, a literal, word-for-word reading of Genesis supports not only young-earth creationism, but also the fact that the earth is flat, stationary, and rests on pillars while the sun, moon, and stars revolve around it. See The Earth Is Flat, and also The Earth Does Not Move.

Further, as we discussed in Creationists And The Scriptural Value Of Pi, scripture reveals that the value of pi is exactly 3. Here are the passages; they aren’t in Genesis, but that shouldn’t diminish their authority. These are from the King James Version, of course:

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 Kings 7:23]

The dimensions of the temple pond were so important that they appear in scripture twice. Observe:

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. [2 Chronicles 4:2]

So it was the mission of the Templars to confirm the accuracy of scripture by determining the value of pi at the location of the Temple. We know what you’re thinking: How could pi be only 3 at the Temple Mount, but more than 3 elsewhere? Ah, you’ve come to the right place.

Many of you know that pi isn’t constant. Its value varies relativistically. An observer at the rim of a rotating disk who uses a measuring rod to determine the circumference of the disk will discover, because the disk’s motion has shortened his measuring rod in the direction of the rim’s motion, that the disk’s circumference — and thus pi itself — is larger than Euclidean pi times the diameter. (The measuring rod will not be shortened as the observer measures the disk’s diameter.)

Not only that, but pi on such a rotating disk will have a different value for various locations on the disk. The farther from the center the observer goes, the faster he’s rotating, and the greater pi becomes. If his disk were something like an old phonograph record, then for each “track” he would find that pi’s value is different, always larger as the distance from the center increases.

Don’t take our word for it — take Einstein’s. He discusses the findings of an observer on a rotating disk at page 40 of Relativity : the Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein.

Okay, so pi can vary on a rotating disk. That’s nice, but what did the Templars learn? Alas, that can’t be determined. Their records aren’t available, and the site is now occupied by the Dome of the Rock. Therefore, the mystery remains.

A scientific investigation should be undertaken by creation scientists to determine the value of pi at that location. Nothing should be more important for them. If, as scripture claims, pi’s value there is 3, that will be indisputable proof that the world is flat. And then, who could deny all the other claims of the young-earth creationists?

Remember, you heard it here from your humble Curmudgeon.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

19 responses to “The Knights Templar and the Flat Earth

  1. The Crusades, and especially the Children’s Crusade (whether or not its apocryphal) have always been fascinating. I’ve never heard of the “pi mission” of the Knights Templar, but it’s inherently stupid, hopelessly futile and potentially dangerous – perfect ingredients for satire. Together with the Children’s Crusade (another metaphor for futile lost causes), it has the makings of a great black comedy. Unfortunately, the only ones who could probably pull it off, Stanley Kubrick and Monty Python, aren’t around anymore.

  2. Pi can also be made smaller due to GR. Think of big masses as curving spacetime – you know, the old bowling ball on a rubber sheet example. Now remember that when you measure circumference and radius within spacetime, you are measuring on the sheet, not through the air. Because of the curvature in the sheet produced by the bowling ball, the radius is larger while the circumference stays the same, and thus, effectively, Pi is smaller. IIRC, this correction is the one that ‘fixes’ Mercury’s orbit. I.e. if you calculate the real Pi based on the sun’s mass, you get it’s actual orbit rather than the wrong one NM predicts. But I could be wrong about that.

    So maybe Temple Mount is just really, really dense.

  3. eric says: “So maybe Temple Mount is just really, really dense.”

    That would make pi bigger. It couldn’t be 3 in that case.

  4. cnocspeireag

    I’m getting on in years and I’m no mathematician, but I’d always thought that the only folk with algorithms for an accurate value of pi at the time of the crusades were the Chinese and Indians ( the subcontinentals, not the native Americans).

  5. cnocspeireag says:

    I’d always thought that the only folk with algorithms for an accurate value of pi at the time of the crusades were the Chinese and Indians

    You could be right. I was just giving the Europeans — some of them — credit for knowing something. Perhaps I was too generous.

  6. “the Chinese and Indians ( the subcontinentals, not the native Americans).”


  7. It’s fashionable now to exaggerate the scientific ignorance of medieval Europe and the scientific knowledge of the Arabs, but both cultures learned their science from the same place, and that was the Byzantine Empire. When the Byzantine Empire was finally extinguished by the Turks, the Greeks fled west, taking the ancient knowledge with them, and the decline of Arab science followed soon after.

  8. Gabriel Hanna says: “and the decline of Arab science followed soon after.”

    Probably Darwin’s fault.

  9. Arab science declined in part due to the growth of Islamic fundamentalism and the suspicion/rejection of science and rationalism (see Al-Ghazali, The Incoherence of the Philosophers) in that the cause and effect that science studies are illusory, since the one and only cause of any event is the Will of God. Causality is an illusion. Therefore science is unnecessary and irreligious. Prior to that, though, Arab science was far ahead of both Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire. The science of the Byzantines is also greatly exaggerated; they preserved Greek texts, yes, and some learning, but nothing to compare to what was going on at the time during the peak of the Arab or Islamic “golden age”.

    “Arab” can be a misleading term; few of the scientists of the Arab “golden age” were Arabians (ie people whose ancestors came out of Arabia with the Islamic conquerors); they spoke Arabic but were, for the most part, descendants of non-Arabs: Persians, Sogdians, Bactrians, etc – people from what we now call central asia – as well as people from the other areas conquered by the Arabs – Syrians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Andalusians, etc.

    And they weren’t all Muslim (Thabit ibn Qurra for instance, was a Sabian from Harran – essentially, a pagan “passing” for one of the “peoples of the book”) although the vast majority were Muslim – though far more broad-minded and tolerant than is common in the Muslim world today. None of these people were looking to Byzantium for intellectual leadership. The entire region had been exposed to Greek rationalism and science during the Hellenistic period (under Alexander the Great’s successors), and thus were well aware of that intellectual heritage directly from Greek immigrants centuries before Byzantium became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.

    The Islamic “golden age” of science was a byproduct of the translation of Greek and Persian and Syriac and Indian (etc.) science and mathematics and other learning into the Arab language, which functioned as a “lingua franca” for all learned persons of that time period and culture. It ended for a variety of reasons; some have blamed the Mongol conquests, but that doesn’t seem to me to be sufficient; a healthy scientific and rational culture can survive the occasional catastrophe; what it can’t survive is a culture that isn’t interested in science and rationalism and which restricts learning to religious texts alone. Mystics like Al-Ghazali became popular; “philosophers” became associated with atheism. Within Islam, the Mu’tazili school of theology eventually died out; looking at the wiki summary it is easy to see why:

    ‘Muʿtazilah’ (Arabic: المعتزلة‎) is an Islamic school of speculative theology that flourished in the cities of Basra and Baghdad, both in present-day Iraq, during the 8th–10th centuries. The adherents of the Mu’tazili school are best known for their having asserted that, because of the perfect unity and eternal nature of God, the Qur’an must therefore have been created, as it could not be co-eternal with God.[1] From this premise, the Mu’tazili school of Kalam proceeded to posit that the injunctions of God are accessible to rational thought and inquiry: because knowledge is derived from reason, reason is the “final arbiter” in distinguishing right from wrong.[2] It follows, in Mu’tazili reasoning, that “sacred precedent” is not an effective means of determining what is just, as what is obligatory in religion is only obligatory “by virtue of reason.”[2]

    Contrast that with the Ash’ari school:

    The Asharite view holds that:
    Complete comprehension of the Unique Nature and Attributes of God is beyond the capacity of human reasoning and sense experience.
    Although humans possess free will (or more accurately, freedom of intention), they have no power to create anything in the material world as this is entirely the province of God. This doctrine is now known in Western philosophy as occasionalism.
    Knowledge of moral truths must be taught by means of Revelation, and is not known a priori or by deduction from a priori propositions or by sheer observation of the world. It is permissible for a Muslim to believe and accept that a proposition is a moral truth based solely on the authority of a consensus of authorised scholars (ulama). This is known as taqlid (“imitation” in religion).
    The school holds that human reason in and by itself was not capable of establishing with absolute certainty any truth-claim with respect to morality, the physical world, or metaphysical ideas.

    Occasionalism is a philosophical theory about causation which says that created substances cannot be efficient causes of events. Instead, all events are taken to be caused directly by God. (A related theory, which has been called ‘occasional causation’, also denies a link of efficient causation between mundane events, but may differ as to the identity of the true cause that replaces them.[1]) The theory states that the illusion of efficient causation between mundane events arises out of God’s causing of one event after another. However, there is no necessary connection between the two: it is not that the first event causes God to cause the second event: rather, God first causes one and then causes the other.

  10. @meh:

    Byzantine science played an important role in the transmission of classical knowledge to the Islamic world and to Renaissance Italy, and also in the transmission of medieval Arabic science to Renaissance Italy.[1] Its rich historiographical tradition preserved ancient knowledge upon which splendid art, architecture, literature and technological achievements were built.

    During the Middle Ages, there was frequently an exchange of works between Byzantine and Islamic science. The Byzantine Empire initially provided the medieval Islamic world with Ancient and early Medieval Greek texts on astronomy, mathematics and philosophy for translation into Arabic as the Byzantine Empire was the leading center of scientific scholarship in the region at the beginning of the Middle Ages. Later as the Caliphate and other medieval Islamic cultures became the leading centers of scientific knowledge, Byzantine scientists such as Gregory Choniades, who had visited the famous Maragheh observatory, translated books on Islamic astronomy, mathematics and science into Medieval Greek, including for example the works of Ja’far ibn Muhammad Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi, Ibn Yunus, Al-Khazini (who was of Byzantine Greek descent but raised in a Persian culture),[6] Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī[7] and Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī (such as the Zij-i Ilkhani and other Zij treatises) among others.[8]

    There were also some Byzantine scientists who used Arabic transliterations to describe certain scientific concepts instead of the equivalent Ancient Greek terms (such as the use of the Arabic talei instead of the Ancient Greek horoscopus). Byzantine science thus played an important role in not only transmitting ancient Greek knowledge to Western Europe and the Islamic world, but in also transmitting Arabic knowledge to Western Europe, such as the transmission of the Tusi-couple, which later appeared in the work of Nicolaus Copernicus.[1] Byzantine scientists also became acquainted with Sassanid and Indian astronomy through citations in some Arabic works.

    During the 12th century the Byzantines provided their model of early humanism as a renaissance of interest in classical authors. In Eustathius of Thessalonica Byzantine humanism found its most characteristic expression.[9] During the 13th and 14th centuries, a period of intense creative activity, Byzantine humanism approached its zenith, and manifested a striking analogy to the contemporaneous Italian humanism. Byzantine humanism believed in the vitality of classical civilization, and of its sciences, and its proponents occupied themselves with scientific sciences.[10]

    Despite the political, and military decline of these last two centuries, the Empire saw a flourishing of science and literature, often described as the “Palaeologean” or “Last Byzantine Renaissance”.

  11. “It’s fashionable now to exaggerate the scientific ignorance of medieval Europe and the scientific knowledge of the Arabs, but both cultures learned their science from the same place, and that was the Byzantine Empire.”

    I disagree. The regions the Arabs conquered were already well acquainted with Greek science, long before Constantine made Byzantium his capital. After Alexander the Great’s conquests, Greek cities were established all over the middle east and central asia. It was these people, the semi-Hellenized people of the middle east and central asia, who passed on Greek learning to the Arabs. They didn’t learn their science from the Byzantine Empire.

    In fact compared to the Arabs during the Islamic Golden Age, the Byzantine Empire (especially after the Islamic conquests) was pretty much an intellectual backwater. Yes they had scholars and access to ancient Greek texts; but the Byzantine Empire had nowhere near the kind of vigorous intellectual and scientific activity comparable to what was going on during the Islamic Golden Age. That isn’t to say that nothing was going on intellectually in the Byzantine Empire, but if you compare it to the Islamic Golden Age it isn’t very impressive.

    The Byzantine Empire (again, relatively speaking, compared to the Islamic Golden Age) was a rather repressive police-state, not very welcoming to speculative philosophy and science. Unlike the early Islamic Caliphate, the Byzantines persecuted philosophers and scientists (who tended to be pagans, Gnostics, or schismatic Christians) and in many cases killed them or chased them out of Byzantium or out of the Empire entirely. Pagan schools, academies and libraries were closed; any learning beyond religiously orthodox texts became dangerous. It wasn’t the Byzantine Empire that passed on Greek knowledge to the Arabs; it was the people who were persecuted under the Byzantine (East Roman) Empire, or who were beyond the bounds of the Empire – pagans (Sabians of Harran, pagans of Baalbek, etc), Gnostics, schismatic Christians (Monophysites, Nestorians, etc), Jews, Mandeans, Zoroastrians, etc.- who passed on Greek learning directly to the Arabs.

    Moreover, the Arabs didn’t just adopt Greek science, but the learning of Persia and India as well. And they didn’t just blindly copy the learning of the past, but improved it. They created a synthesis of all of the knowledge of the world as it existed at the time, and, more importantly, they advanced science beyond what the Greeks (and others) had achieved. And, for a few centuries, they were by far the world’s leading scientific culture. This isn’t an exaggeration.

    It didn’t last though. The problem is that people have trouble distinguishing between what Islam (as a culture) used to be (for a few centuries, say, 8th-through-10th centuries) from what it is today. Eventually, the Islamic world came to resemble the Byzantine Empire, where religious orthodoxy became a tool to repress free thought, and heretics and infidels were repressed rather than tolerated (the Sabians of Harran, for instance, eventually were wiped out). It is a warning to us, today, about what can happen if religious literalism and religious fundamentalism (where everything has to pass muster with religious orthodoxy) gets out of hand. When an entire culture resorts to the equivalent of “Goddidit” as the answer for every question, then science withers.

  12. @Gabriel Hanna:

    If you want to compare wiki pages, compare the length of these two; compare especially the list of leading scientists – not humanists, but actual scientists:

    I’m not arguing that there wasn’t exchange of knowledge between the Byzantines and Islam; I’m arguing that the scientific culture of the Byzantines was nowhere near as vigorous and innovative as that of Islam during its Golden Age. Western humanists grossly exaggerate the importance of the Byzantines for reasons which should be obvious.

  13. Needless to say I don’t take a wiki page to be an authoritative source for something like this.

    Saying that the Arabs “learned their science” from the Byzantine Empire only makes sense if you are using “the Byzantine Empire” as a euphemism for “the heirs of Hellenistic culture in the middle east as temporarily represented by the Byzantine Empire”. By the time the Arabs were adopting Greek science, most of that Empire was no longer in Byzantine hands. Even if some Arab scholars went to Constantinople to translate Greek texts (and the wiki provides no examples of that), that doesn’t change the fact that there were plenty of scholars in Alexandria, Antioch, Damascus, and other Arab-controlled cities who were more than happy to provide access to Greek texts to the Arabs, and who were no longer under Byzantine control and who for the most part weren’t loyal to the Byzantine Empire in any case, before or after the Islamic conquest.

    I agree that “the heirs of Hellenistic culture in the middle east as temporarily represented by the Byzantine Empire” played an important part in passing on Greek knowledge to the Arabs. But when you say “the Byzantine Empire” did that, it creates a misleading impression in the reader’s mind about what happened, IMO. It makes it sound like the shrunken rump of the post-Islamic Byzantine Empire was the sole repository of Greek science and knowledge, which is simply not the case.

  14. as temporarily represented by the Byzantine Empire”.

    Only about 1000 years or so.

    Look, the trade and cultural and diplomatic relations between the Byzantines and their Islamic neighbors was continuous.

    Western humanists grossly exaggerate the importance of the Byzantines for reasons which should be obvious.

    Since when?

    The Byzantine Empire acquired a negative reputation in the Western world as early as the Middle Ages.[4][7] The creation of the Holy Roman Empire by Charlemagne in the 9th century and the East–West Schism in the 11th century made the Empire an outcast to the Western European countries following the Roman Catholic Church, and the siege and sack of Constantinopole during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 only cemented those differences.[7] Hence the European medieval stereotypes of the people of the Byzantine Empire portrayed them as perfidious, treacherous, servile, effeminate and unwarlike.[7]

    Medievalist Steven Runciman described the medieval European view of the Byzantine Empire by saying:

    Ever since our rough crusading forefathers first saw Constantinople and met, to their contemptuous disgust, a society where everyone read and wrote, ate food with forks and preferred diplomacy to war, it has been fashionable to pass the Byzantines by with scorn and to use their name as synonymous with decadence”.
    —Steven Runciman, The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and His Reign: A Study of Tenth-Century Byzantium, 1988[8]

    Criticism of the Empire continued among historians of the 18th century and 19th century, particularly in the works of historians and philosophers influenced by The Enlightenment.[4] Edward Gibbon, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Johann Gottfried Herder, William Lecky, Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Voltaire were among the many Western writers of that period who were critical of the Byzantine system.[3][9]

    Of that Byzantine empire, the universal verdict of history is that it constitutes, without a single exception, the most thoroughly base and despicable form that civilization has yet assumed. There has been no other enduring civilization so absolutely destitute of all forms and elements of greatness, and none to which the epithet “mean” may be so emphatically applied…The history of the empire is a monotonous story of the intrigues of priests, eunuchs, and women, of poisonings, of conspiracies, of uniform ingratitude.
    —William Lecky, A history of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne 2 vols. (London 1869) II, 13f.[10]

    Its [Byzantium’s] general aspect presents a disgusting picture of imbecility: wretched, nay, insane passions, stifles the growth of all that is noble in thoughts, deeds, and persons. Rebellion on the part of generals, depositions of the Emperors by means or through the intrigues of the courtiers, assassinations or poisoning of the Emperors by their own wives and sons, women surrendering themselves to lusts and abominations of all kinds.
    —Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of History[11]

    Edward Gibbon, the first English historian to write a full history of the Byzantine Empire in his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–1789), was a sharp critic of the Empire.[12] Jacob Burckhardt, an influential 19th century historian shared Gibbon’s view:

    At its summit was despotism, infinitely strengthened by the union of churchly and secular dominion; in the place of morality it imposed orthodoxy; in the place of unbridled and demoralized expression of the natural instincts, hypocrisy and pretense; in the face of despotism there was developed greed masquerading as poverty, and deep cunning; in religious art and literature there was an incredible stubbornness in the constant repetition of obsolete motifs.
    —Jacob Burckhardt, The age of Constantine the Great[13]

    Critics pointed out that the Byzantine Empire and its successors were uninfluenced by such major shifts in Western philosophy as the Investiture Controversy, the Reformation and the Renaissance;[6] and reduced the Byzantine political culture to caesaropapism and authoritarian political culture, described as authoritarian, despotic, and imperialistic.[12][13]

    After the fall of the Byzantine Empire, critics of the Byzantine system pointed out that it has survived and “corrupted” other states, in particular, it has been used in the discourse of the political system, culture and society of the Russia (from the times of the Grand Duchy of Moscow through the tsardom of Russia to the Russian Empire – see also tsarist autocracy)[2][14], the Soviet Union,[15] the Ottoman Empire[16] and the Balkan states (the former European provinces of the Ottoman Empire).[1][6][17]

    Modern historians point out that this negative reputation is not necessarily true, and at the very least, a very simplistic generalization.[4][5] As a constructed term, Byzantinism also shares those fallacies with a closely related term, Balkanism.[18] Angelov sums it up as follows:

    Byzantinism begins from simple stereotypes, passes through reductionism and essentialization, and then proceeds to impute Byzantium’s supposed essence onto modern Balkans or Russia as the burden of history. … As a discourse of “otherness”, Byzantinism evolves from, and reflects upon, the West’s worst dreams and nightmares about its own self.
    —Dimiter G. Angelov, Byzantinism: The Imaginary and Real Heritage of Byzantium in Southeastern Europe[19]

    You’re right that wikipedia is not going to resolve this conundrum for us, but I think that you must agree that there is not full agreement among historians for your views.

  15. Thoughtful and interesting exchange of posts above, and on top of that all conducted respectfully. Are you sure this is actually, like, the Internet?

  16. RetiredSciGuy

    SC: “Many of you know that pi isn’t constant.”

    I’m surprised that no one yet has mentioned the discovery made at the time the US was building the DEW Line in the Canadian arctic, the early-warning radar system constructed in the ’50s.

    When building the circular foundations for the radomes, it was discovered that the extreme cold evidently changed the value of pi. Hence, when the temperature is lower than 40 below, it’s known as…

    …Eskimo Pi.

    Sorry. I just thought the respectful discussion above needed some leavening. (Credit [or blame] for this goes to my HS Trig teacher at Lane Tech in Chicago, Mr. Peluso. He had a lot of fun teaching.)

  17. RetiredSciGuy says: “Eskimo Pi.”

    Yes. There is also the possibility that pi = 3 in heaven, which would account for the common saying: “Pi in the sky.”

  18. Soon you’ll be telling me the Templars were trying to harness telluric currents … wait.

    Seriously, we don’t give our ancestors credit for how much they could have known given the time and ability they had to travel and exchange ideas. My ancestors are South Indian Hindus and it goes that their temples had to be built to exact numerological specifications that required the knowledge of pi. To what extent this is true, I do not know. Perhaps a field trip to ancient temples with measuring instruments is in order.

  19. A (to me) mind-blowing ancient invention:

    their temples had to be built to exact numerological specifications that required the knowledge of pi.

    Of course you can build things that use pi “empirically”, as it were. It’s easy to make circles and round objects.

    The Egyptians of course needed true right angles. They got them this way: they had a measuring device that was divided into 12 equal sections, and they folded it into a 3:4:5 triangle. I don’t think they knew why it worked though.