About 2 weeks ago I did post on my status a petition to the Royal Society to start a debate on resetting the calender to reflect our true heritage. 

The text of the petition has been altered slightly and I request you to again append your signatures. And I apologize to those who had signed it.

Nothing much may come from it, but I think it will start a discussion that all of us alive today and who are secular would be interested in. There is nothing about 1 BC and 1 AD that requires special mention and it is one of the surest ways we are going to deal with the christian mindset.

I hope all of us find this interesting.

The petition can be found here

Views: 101

Tags: Calender, Georgian, Petitions, Religion, Secularism

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on March 21, 2014 at 10:31pm

I hope all of us find this interesting.

I definitely do find this interesting.

To fill in the backstory: B.C. stands for "Before Christ" and dates events that occurred before the birth of Jesus. A.D. comes from the Latin anno domini, ("in the year of our Lord)" and dates events after the birth of Jesus. The 6th century monk who invented this system neglected to include a year 0.

Today, partly due to the recognition of non-Christian historians and archeologists, new terms are coming into use: B.C.E., which stands for "Before (the) Common Era" and C.E., which stands for "Current Era". (The new standard includes a year 0.) Technically, these new terms have nothing to do with Christianity.

But I still find them a little unsatisfying.

I appreciate the effort to secularize how we count the number of times the Earth has completed one solar orbit. Despite the new names, the year-numbering system still has a "funny" calibration. It still counts starting with the birth-year of Jesus: a self-professed man-god who may or may not have existed. 

If the year-numbering system were to be reset based on a known, legitimate, "landmark" event in time, what event would that be?

How would we account for the old Gregorian year-numbering systems used with computers and various publications over the centuries? Would the world have to convert them as Americans do with Metric measures to English measures?

Comment by Tim on March 22, 2014 at 3:18am

An interesting video of what affects the measurement of a planetary "year"

http://www.wimp.com/earthyear/

Comment by Thomas Blood on March 22, 2014 at 9:36am

Actually, ACE and BCE arise from the error one encounters from a literal reading of the bible. Since it was Herod the Great who slaughtered the innocents in an attempt at killing jesus as an infant, and Herod died in 4 BC, that means that jesus was born between 4 and 6 BC. While many mainline christians are aware of this, you can have great fun with fundies who become apoleptic over this new "secular" attack on the "christian " calendar.  "What, you don't believe that Jesus was born in 4 BCE? I thought you believed that the Bible was true? Or are you saying he was born 4 years before he was born?" Remember, any seed of logic, once planted, has the potential for growth.

Comment by Unseen on March 22, 2014 at 10:23am

One needs to have a year 0. It seems to me that it's going to be an arbitrary choice, no matter what. 

Next, changing it would result in many complications and expenses, raising the question What would make changing the year 2014 to something else a driving necessity? What other base year cries out to be used? The "year" of The Big Bang? The "year" the asteroid caused the extinction of the dinosaurs?

I think we're stuck with what we have because there's no overriding benefit to changing it.

Comment by Gregg R Thomas on March 22, 2014 at 11:18am

The calendar should start on the day of my birth, that was truly the First Day.

Comment by SteveInCO on March 22, 2014 at 11:35am

I generally use BCE and CE in anything I write.  (By the way, if you want to use A.D., it traditionally comes before the year, e.g., A.D. 1564.)

In defense of 6th century monks, they "neglected to include a year 0" because the concept hadn't been invented yet.  To the extent that they thought about such matters, they would consider "nothing" not to be a number in its own right, but rather the absence of one.  If it helps understand why it's the way it is, think of the years as ordinal number, we are now in the 2014th year CE; only once we reach the end of this year will 2014 full years have elapsed since absolutely nothing happened at 12:00:00.0000...1 AM on 1 Jan 1 CE.  (Not even the dumbest Xian thinks Christ was born at that instant.  If they are that stupid, they will generally figure it was the year 0.  (See Back to the Future for a different stupid take on this.  Emmet Brown should have known better.) )  The same logic goes into numbering centuries as well (and it's also why a century ends at the end of the year with the zeros in it).

Putting in a year zero raises other questions.  If we were to go to a more "odometer-like" or measuring tape like system where the first year is regarded as 0, and you only call it 1 after a full year has elapsed, does that mean the year before that is -0?  If it doesn't make sense to call the first year after the event 1, it surely doesn't make sense to call the year before the event 1 either, even if you change its arithmetic sign.  The end of June of the first year would be (logically) 0 plus half a year (or 0.5), but the end of June the previous year would have to be zero minus half a year (or -0.5).

For what it's worth, astronomers do use a system where 1 BCE is numbered 0, 2 BCE is numbered -1, etc., but it seems to me that would cause confusion at this point.  Julius Caesar gets assassinated in -43, rather than 44BCE, and a BUNCH of written work is now off by one number.

The birth of Christ is literally impossible to pin down because the two statements we have from the bible (Matthew: reign of King Herod and Luke: while Quirinius was governor of Syria) contradict each other; the first requires he be born no later than 4 BCE, the other requires he be born no earlier than 6 CE.  Most scholars seem to lean towards a date of 4-7 BCE, though I have no idea why they give Matthew more weight than Luke.

One suggestion I rather like is to simply add 10,000 to our current system, making this 12,014.  That puts the start at about the beginning of the Holocene, the end of the last ice age (it's off by a couple of centuries, I think--and I expect the precise date will be adjusted anyway as we learn more).  It may not be strictly accurate as a counting of the years since the Holocene began, but conversion from Gregorian to Holocene is dead simple after 1 CE.  1 BCE becomes 10000, and the Battle of Marathon (490 BCE) was in 9511.  It avoids the annoyance of a negative number for anything happening during human history.  If you were to run across something in the future that doesn't use this system the fix is obvious for anything after 1CE, and you'll at least know that 490 ice a BCE date, not a holocene date.  ("Greeks?  11,500 years ago?  Uh no.")

Comment by Unseen on March 22, 2014 at 1:05pm

How about the current year is always "0" and the years before and after increment each New Years Day (and why not pick a new New Years Day while we're engaged in this silly discussion?) former and prior year are incremented or decremented?

This whole discussion is burdened by the fact that there would be so much baggage involved in changing how we reckon years that it will clearly never happen. Just think of all the books which would stand in need of revision.

Comment by Davis Goodman on March 23, 2014 at 3:07am

I can imagine a whole lot of problems and drama over resetting a calendar. I suppose it would be annoying for us after having memorised so many dates in history class and having to convert every year on a new scale. Though that's not a really good reason to reject a calendar reset. The bigger problem would be choosing a year to reset to. Should we chose the year when Babylonian civilization began?

I doubt native Americans or Chinese would be pleased to reset their calendar to a milestone of western civilization.

Or should we chose the year when homo sapiens came into existence? Pretty hard to pick such an arbitrary date as there is no precise year when homo sapiens split from neanderthals. And it would be strange refering to this year as 500,001. It means I was born in 499,976. Though I guess we could get used to the long digits.

Or maybe we can chose the year when the universe came into existence. That way there would be no counting backwards from year zero. I always find it strange counting years in BC. I have to do a little calculation to place just how long ago a year in BC was.

Besides the issues and problems I would support it. Let this year be 10,000,000,001. Better than basing our calendar on a fictitious event.

Comment by Unseen on March 23, 2014 at 8:53am

 I have to do a little calculation to place just how long ago a year in BC was.

Well, luckily that's an arithmetic problem not a calculus problem.

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