Saturday, 13 September 2014

Why I Prefer AD vs. CE

Well recently in one of my Christianity classes we got into the topic of what BCE and CE means, and contrary to some, no it does not mean 'Christian Era' instead it is a 'neutral' term meaning 'Common Era' which is supposed to define the commonly used dating system in the modern era. Now understand this, the debate over the use of Common Era (or BCE/CE vs. BC/AD) is not a modern phenomenon, in fact the use of CE goes back nearly 400 years with the first use of CE appearing in Latin in 1615 and English in 1708 showing that, despite what some would think, we are not unique in attempting to change the dating system.

Now here's the thing, most arguments against the use of BC/AD are those who are attempting to pursue an idea of 'religious tolerance' or pluralism and inclusiveness in the dating system adopted by the world in an attempt to be more neutral to the global community. Never mind that this in and of itself is absurd since the Gregorian Calender itself was foisted on the globe through the imposition of European ideas on local cultures completely upending their own way of time telling and was thus imposed by force. Nor does it take into account already existing counter calender systems which are explicitly religiously based (such as the Muslim calender or the Japanese calender which measures the year from when the first emperor sat on the throne). It also ignores the fact that the Gregorian Calender currently has religious ties to ancient religions built into it (the months and days being named after gods). The most important thing too is that for all intents and purposes the global community uses this calender for convenience sake.

However, what grinds my gears about the idea is that rather than attempt to remove any connection to previous time keeping or cultural strata they simply adapt the 'Christian' calender making the change completely cosmetic and utterly pointless. In that same vein I sincerely doubt that most people, even of other religions, sincerely object to the use of this type of Calender or really notice it at all to begin with. This despite earlier arguments in history mostly to avoid the idea of national dating systems or using the year of a rulers reign to denote the time period.

Now the plainly reactionary part of my little essay here, functionally and culturally there is absolutely no need to change the dating system effectively in use for hundreds of years (well in the Western world at least) and reasons at changing it because it might 'offend' are laughable since it was through Western cultural hegemony which the current dating system became 'common'.

Though as a little aside, let me just offer up one suggestion to those who wish to make a 'neutral' dating system. Rather than simply trying to rewrite the current calender in a pointless PC exercise, how about just starting a new dating system? I know it's harder than just cosmetically altering the one we currently have, but at least it's more intellectually honest.

Here's a thought, how about we celebrate one of man's crowning achievements as the new more neutral dating system? Let us hypothesize that we can start if from October 4th 1957, when Sputnik was placed in orbit and man finally had access to the high frontier. We can say that starting that day is a new era (or hell just starting on the new year of 1958 for convenience sake) and every year after (we can say that the time from October 4th to December 31st is the 'year zero') becomes a year of the new Cosmic Era (CE). That would make today September 14th 57 CE. Rejoice for one of the greatest moments of mankind's history!

Now that may seem just silly, but it's a hell of a lot more honest than just trying to tie in an idea to the existing dating system. It has worked without popular complaint for the last hundred years (or I suppose technically since we started the Gregorian calender). To me though it is just as silly to implement a cosmetic change which no one really cares about, and no great majority is asking for.

This is one of those traditions I will gladly stick too.