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K. Kris Hirst

AD vs CE Battle Rages On

By May 27, 2006

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N.S. Gill, About's guide to Ancient History, wrote a blog recently, remarking on a post of a post of an article in the Spectator discussing the use of AD (Anno Domine) vs. CE (Common Era) when referring to dates of the past, the history of the usage, and the current preferences. This is a continuing debate in some circles; and in fact the original article in the Spectator reported that more recent textbooks in the UK are switching away from AD to CE. Nemy's blog has generated quite a lively discussion. So, in a true metablog fashion, this is my post about her post about comments to her original post on a post by Adrian Murdoch (who has a blog on Roman history called 'Bread and Circuses') on an article in the Spectator. My use of (mostly) BP or AD/BC on the Archaeology at About webpage has been for clarity's sake, rather than a particular consideration of who-shall-we-not-offend. What this discussion proves is you'll offend somebody whatever you do (some Christians are offended by the use of CE/BCE; some non-Christians by the use of AD/BC). As one of the commenters points out, CE/BCE still sets the starting point as the traditional date of Christ's birth0 1 CE. I guess if I was going to reduce the number of people who could be offended, I should probably pick 'CE/BCE'; but.... as I say, AD/BC makes sense to more people who commonly read this website. However, I am willing to be swayed by public opinion, and perhaps the time has come to get with the program. If you have a strong opinion one way or another, please feel free to comment here or on Nemy's post. Maybe I'll even try another poll.

Speaking as an archaeologist, I think we should consider starting all over again, and use 1945 as the '0' year, since that's the year of the first atomic bomb blast. BAA for 'Before the Atomic Age' and AA for 'Atomic Age'. That would make this year 61 AA. (Okay, okay, I'm mostly kidding).

See: AD/CE revisited: What do the journals say? for a poll of archaeological journal style guides.


May 28, 2006 at 4:16 am
(1) AwenDawn says:

to be politicaly correct in archaeology is the oxymoron of oxymoron. BC and AD are just fine. I am so sick and tired of this argument with people who have too much time on their hands. 2000 years from now will not be the common era of today but it will be 4000 years AD

May 28, 2006 at 11:33 am
(2) Kris Hirst says:

Now that is a long time to propose the current civilization will last. You are a clearly an optimistic if somewhat cranky person, AwenDawn!

May 28, 2006 at 3:41 pm
(3) AwenDawn says:

Sorry did not mean to sound so cranky.Maybe I am just to old to have an unbiased opinion on this issue. Only this issue mind you. :-) Awen

May 28, 2006 at 3:45 pm
(4) Kris Hirst says:

No, no, certainly don’t apologise for having a strong opinion! After all, that’s what I asked for. I was just twitting you a little, to keep the temperature of the discussion a little cool.

My problem is, I really don’t have a strong opinion, so every little bit I hear about is good! Thanks for posting!


June 1, 2006 at 5:15 pm
(5) NSGill says:

A.D. stands for in the year of our Lord, so “domini” is in the genitive. Have you ever read Tom Holt? His mother is a mystery writer but he writes fun time jumping historical fiction. The prologue to his Olympiad begins
History as we know it began in 776 BC, near the Greek city of Elis, when some men we know next to nothing about ran from one pile of stones to another…. the third part of the formula rells us how many years have passed since a man called Jesus Bar-Josepf was reckoned to have been born, at Bethlehem in the Roman province of Judaea. We know the date of his birth because the Romans were good at dates and figures… and they used a chronology based on the date of the foundation of the city of Rome (753BC, by our reckoning). If asked how they knew when their city was founded, the Romans would have put it into the context of the Olympiads — the tradition of holding athletic competitions every four years at Olympia, near Elis, on which the Greeks based their chronology.
I still vote for 753 B.C.

June 4, 2006 at 6:34 pm
(6) European History says:

All dates on About’s European History site are now give in BCE/CE, which I think is a clear indication of my opinion!

August 11, 2006 at 6:19 am
(7) Thomas says:

IMHO it is dumb to try and change a thousand years of the term AD just because it was originally a christian term. If we were to switch the gregorian calender with a new one then it would make sense to use whatever terms that it used but as long as we use the gregorian calender… we should use it’s terms. I think all this fuss over changing the terms is just a bunch of angry athiests with too much time on their hands. Its just all so silly… IMHO.

August 21, 2006 at 12:09 am
(8) CCo says:

The BCE/CE system is still based around the birth of Jesus Christ! Does it really matter what it is called when the underlying meaning is still the same?

If I were to be offended by BC/AD, then I would sure be equally offended by BCE/CE! By the way, I take no offence at either, in fact I’m more offended at the half-hearted and lazy attempt to “adjust” a centuries-old system just to “seem” more tolerant.

If we really wanted to make it “less offensive” or religiously tolerant than we would change it to a large event that the whole world can agree on. Such as the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Of course, then a non-Italian group will be offended we dind’t use a large natural event from their region.

November 21, 2007 at 5:52 pm
(9) Peter says:

Why is it that we as a species have become so supersensitive, so fragile in ourselves that we are offended by the most trivial and innocuous things. AD and BC are labels. They carry no malice or intent. The show no disrespect. Just as the zero point is arbitrary. It could very well have been the first time some goat herder first lost a sheep for all it matters. The reality is a zero point was chosen, labels were established, and we should all move on to changing the things that matter in the world.

December 4, 2007 at 1:19 am
(10) gary says:

The tradition in all aspects that we as Americans have lived with for centuries is being hijacked left and right by the stupid whiners who demand THEIR own designations for whatever reason. The problem, aside from being so demanding, is that their little game won’t last as IT will be replace in not too long after their success by some other stupid people in the future. Once you weaken tradition, it fails. Keep tradition, and everyone not only feels more comfortable, but they’re more productive in their lives because they aren’t wasting time defending or attacking stupid proposals to change things. i.e. Look at the bubonic plague and its name change from one scientific term to yersenia pestis. Was THAT really necessary? No. Just some dreamers who are now probably long dead who demanded, and got, their way.

April 20, 2008 at 7:32 am
(11) Rosepoet says:

Well, Jesus the Christ was born sometime between 4 and 6 BC, now that we have better info than some 4th century monk. So for BCE/CE users to set the calendar to the zero year between BC and AD is nonsensical. I propose we redo the calendar to covert 2008 to 63AA as in after atomic Ė 1945 being the first nuclear explosion. That obviates everything. I think Abs Urbe Condita or the Aztec (or is it Mayan?) calendar year would be equally valid. But BCE/CE users are trying to avoid references to religion so AA solves all those problems.

November 12, 2008 at 3:08 pm
(12) Nemo says:

Who initiated the change and for what reason. Did people really have trouble understanding B.C. or A.D.? Please! The answer is obvious to anyone honest enough to admit it. But I have found lots of scientists intellectually dishonest especially paleontologists.

November 13, 2008 at 12:12 pm
(13) Kris Hirst says:

You know, I don’t know who initiated it, but … I do have a feeling about the reason for it. My guess, call it an educated guess if you want, is that–archaeology, the study of the past in general in fact, is driven mostly by the west. Using AD/BC assumes Christianity as the preeminent philosophical underpinning. Full stop. We in the west need to recognize that there are other ways of looking at the past, and (I’m guessing) whoever came up with this idea of BCE/CE thought it might be a good way to remind us of that.

The west can’t control everything, even though maybe we’re used to that. To really understand the past–I mean really understand it, not just put a good face on it–we need to be aware that there are other sides to the study, sides that don’t put Christianity at the forefront. I think that’s interesting. I don’t care about the political correctness of it, frankly. But, if somebody says “here’s another way to think about the past”, I get excited.

That’s intellectual honesty. Can you deal with that?

November 19, 2008 at 7:37 am
(14) vivian says:

In all intellectual honesty, this new way of
dating is just a holdover from the pc days of
archaeology. Days that are now, thankfully,
over. Remember those days, when the books and
magazines were written mostly by anthropologists? Nothing but long lectures on the evils of looting, excavations, pot hunters, museums and arrowhead collectors.
Very little for serious study was written.

January 1, 2009 at 2:34 pm
(15) Phil L says:

What’s this about a Year 0? The Gregorian calendar goes directly from 1 BC to 1 AD (or for the politically correct, from 1 BCE to 1 CE).

January 2, 2009 at 8:21 am
(16) Kris Hirst says:

Well, heck. Who knew? Thanks Phil…

January 25, 2009 at 10:23 pm
(17) Jambikat says:

Language leads the way in intellectual and the evolution of culture just like any newfounded scientific discovery. I do see a problem with AD as in ‘the year of our lord’ because as Kris said, it’s a new way of looking at the world. Once you change a term or a name for something, the way you look at it changes, even if it’s every so slightly. It enlightens us and brings a new consciousness to us.

March 25, 2009 at 8:22 am
(18) Steve says:

Not necessarily Jambikat.
Pol Pot brought something new in his dating process also. He changed everything to the year zero.
Now go on, tell me you dont know who he was.
Pol Pot AD – or should that be Pol Pot C.E?
Neither – it should be:
Saloth Sar 0. Or, as we in ‘the west’ should make quite clear our belief systems a priori and in connection;
Pol Pot 0 Manchester United 3.
(I would hereby like to make a formal apology now for not being duly sensitive in neglecting to mention those fine ladies of the Luton FC, or all other sporting denominations, creeds or political and religious denominations.)

May 1, 2009 at 8:22 am
(19) Daniel says:

I prefer the AD/BC system because it has been in use for so long, and it seems that the only reason to suddenly change it is to be politically correct.
I’m not totally against the change though; we aren’t sure about exactly when Jesus was born, and there are several dates that would work over a period of a few years. If history is measured against the birth of Christ, then we would have to shift the whole system if it turned out that we were wrong in dating Jesus’ birth. Also, it would be nice to have a year “0″.

June 4, 2009 at 1:32 pm
(20) Adam says:

Couldn’t the Christians just call BCE Before Christian Era and CE Christian Era? BC/AD and BCE/CE have the same underlying meaning, they designate time. If we’re going to remove all traces of religion from time keeping, then let’s rename all the days of the week. While we’re at it, let’s change the months of the year. Or is it only imperitive to stamp out Christianity’s influence? Should we ignore all the pagan influences? BC/AD holds no religious meaning to Christians. It seems it only means something to certain atheists, who are probably just a little bitter that all the knowledge of the ancient world (math, sciences, literature,etc.) was saved for us to study and expound upon by Christian monks. BC/AD is nothing more than a reminent of how those monks decided to number the years since they needed a place to start that they had record of. Who care’s what the letters BC/AD stand for? They’re just letters.

June 15, 2009 at 6:04 pm
(21) Jules says:

Being “religiously correct” about things like this can be just as mindless as being “politically correct”,not to mention narcissistic, self absorbed and incredibly insular as if the whole universe (14 billion years of it) revolves around the transitory beliefs of one faith on one small planet in the midst of a time-space context,which is almost beyond human comprehension. Typical small-minded hubris though of religious fundamentalists, especially the American types.

August 25, 2009 at 6:43 pm
(22) Joudan says:

Sorry if I’m being a bit shallow, but I like the AD/BC system better because it sounds cooler. Common Era? Come on, where’s the imagination??

In all honesty it doesn’t make a shred of difference to me. A microwave is still a microwave, even if some guy in new jersey calls it a zapperdoodle. Debating over arbitrary terminology is more than pointless. The mere fact that there is a movement to change something so trivial is beyond my comprehension.

September 16, 2009 at 4:30 am
(23) Freak says:

I think it doesn’t matter whether you use BC/AD or BCE/CE because it still is based on the same starting point that is Christ’s supposed birth.
I am non-religious, but I’m not very offended at the use of BC/AD, because, to be truthful, it all seems a little ridiculous to me. Any non-Christians who petition for the use of CE/BCE should be told that it is exactly the same measurement of time, just given a different label. Like I said, ridiculous.

October 1, 2009 at 12:31 pm
(24) Dan Porter says:

I happen to be a very religious Christian, an Episcopalian and thus an Anglican. I say that only as full disclosure. For the past many years I have been using CE and BCE as do many scholars in the Anglican Communion except when writing exclusively for church use, for instance in a church publication. It was Oxford Christian theologians who first started using CE and BCE. Other academics picked it up from there.

I am now changing back to AD and BC for the simple reason that it is less confusing to readers. No, not that it is really confusing, but ever so slightly less confusing. I’ve noticed a trend back to AD and BC. The AP style guide now specifies only AD and BC. The Smithsonian Magazine now uses AD and BC whereas before they mixed it up. Other secular journals seem to be going that way, including journals like Nature.

It would have been much better if a long, long time ago we had set a different standard. We still could by shifting 10,000 years. This would be the year 12000 A for arbitrary. But even then some would complain for as the Fundamentalists would point out, the world isn’t that old.
We could, if we want to be precise start at about 13.7 billions years ago and use scientific notation.

Some things fail. After new Coca Cola we had to bring back old Coca Cola as Classic Coca Cola, which is now just Coca Cola. Shall we rename French fries, common fries? Arabic numbers, common numbers?

BTW, I have seen CE and BCE explained as Christian era and before Christian era.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition (online) says: “We are not aware of any intense debate. The choice between one or the other is up to the writer and should be flagged only if the customs of a specific field or community seem to be in danger of being (unwittingly) violated. Many authors use BC and AD because they are familiar and conventionally understood. Those who want to avoid reference to Christianity are free to do so.

So I’m switch back to AD and BC for the simple reason that everyone understands it better.

December 8, 2009 at 11:45 pm
(25) Jennifer says:

I’m sick and tired of political correctness. Whether we call it BC/AD or BCE/CE it is still based on the birth date of Jesus Christ (although the date appears to be wrong). As a strong Christian believer, I think it is important that we RETURN to the dating system of BC/AD.

December 17, 2009 at 11:37 am
(26) Eugene says:

Moving to BCE and CE is a good idea. Religious zealotry on all sides is the cause for most of the world’s conflicts today. We need to tone down anything that creates a perception that favors one religion over another. We need to get away from the labels and the sin of pride that comes with little things such A.D. and B.C. and emphasize the higher virtues that are common to all religions. Getting away from A.D. and B.C. is one small step in doing just that.

January 3, 2010 at 9:37 pm
(27) Eikin Kloster says:

On the year 1278 of the founding of Rome, a certain Dionysius Exiguus monk decided he was going to count time from the birth of Christ, calculated Christ was born on 753 Ab urbe condita, and did so with good reason. For him, the birth of Christ was so much more relevant than the founding of Rome.

Now, some 1400 years later, many of us are not counting the time since the birth of Christ anymore, because the birth of Christ is irrelevant for us, apart from knowing that Christ would more likely have been born on 4 BC… We count the time since 0 AD because that’s the starting point common to the western world, hence, the beginning of our common era.

As an Atheist I understand what is being expressed by the Common Era designation and I couldn’t agree more. On the other hand, I am in fact used to AC/BC enough to actually prefer it to CE/BCE which does feel a bit over zealous to me.

In the end of the day, I’d gladly substitute the Gregorian calendar by something like the geological Before Present dating (starting on 1950 and going backwards), including a something like “In the Present” to count years after 1950, or maybe something starting even before the Christian era. How about borrowing the above mentioned Tom Holt, and making it “Olympic era”, starting at 776 BC? Or “Historical era”… I hate thinking in negative numbers, so I would just find the earliest known historical date and make it the year 0.

January 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm
(28) casey says:

fascinating discussion, truly. as a non-Christian, i’ve always wondered why there was such an emphasis on BC/AD in science, and for historical purposes like archaeology, but never really thought about what the alternatives would be. i found this blog when i was googling the term “BP” since i had never heard that term before, and it was in the context of early north american cultures, Cahokians. i’m absolutely fine with BP. it makes so much sense to me.

February 8, 2010 at 10:18 am
(29) Head Banger says:

Lighten up people and see the light. The years before Bon Scott’s death should be AC and the following years DC. Who cares what they stand for as long as we keep on rockin’.

February 17, 2010 at 12:29 pm
(30) notadam says:


Christianity has a history of bigotry against
non-Christians, which still continues today. And I can see you’re keeping it alive by belittling atheists here. Are there any other groups who have been the objects of Christian bigotry that you’d like to mock? Do you make fun of black people who get angry when a white person calls them the N word? Are they just bitter because the white man has “been everywhere and done everything?”
Maybe you have some good Jew or gay jokes?

February 23, 2010 at 1:47 am
(31) steve says:

AD/BC implies a Christian era.

BC/BCE implies; Christian era except that as atheists we aint gonna take your Christian hedgemony imperialist bullshit labelling no more.

You can replace religious zealotry with political zealotry all you want. But remember this;

My people were the Wangfooks. You have probably never heard of us because you who are christian and atheist zealots virtually wiped us out.
One way you did this was with your constant relabeling which with our overtly sensitive sense of direction sounded either like morse code BC-AD-BC-BCE or musical notation. With our acutely sensitive hearing this translated like a dog whistle and so confused many of us that we walked into lamposts and killed ourselves. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Go on, laugh at that. I dare you. Its people like us who pay the price for your academic soirees.

May 23, 2010 at 10:07 am
(32) PatC says:

“casey” You are a fool. Try googling BP today May23, shall we count time from sun rotations before & after the gulf spill.
Slowly, very very sloooowly, we do homogenize or temper our will to our brothers’, and the 16 year old girls spitting up in the air are again ignored.
I dream of a world where knowing the spelling of a word can tell you how to pronounce it, where all people speak one language. And my only longing is to punish those who even now seek to isolate us from each other, by language or faith or ethnicity or economics.

July 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm
(33) The Sixth Parsec says:

AD/BC is perfectly fine. If you want to change it, then change the starting point. the years before 1 (4, for the sake of people who actually care) are still the years before the birth of Christ, regardless of what you call it. If you were to define the point where 1 BC became 1 AD, you would not likely say “The Common Era started.” What marked the starting of the Common Era? As someone said, a microwave is still a microwave…

To the somewhat old post about “The West canít control everything,” I am pretty sure the West decided what was West and what was East in the first place. So yes, they seemingly can, as far as standards and notations go.

August 9, 2010 at 7:55 pm
(34) ImAG8or says:

BCE/CE versus BC/AD ….. Is there no end to PC??

September 18, 2010 at 11:22 am
(35) Raj says:

I use BCE/CE simply because it makes no sense for me as a non-Christian to write BC/AD (particularly “Anno Domini,” in the year of our lord).

My use of BCE/CE is logical: BC/AD means nothing to me, and while most of the world can agree that this is the Common Era, much less of the world would agree that this is the era of “our lord.” I actually find the phrase “Anno Domini” slightly creepy…

If you’re not Christian, the decision seems like a fairly easy one. If you are, then you certainly have a right to use either, but there’s no sense in getting wound up over the option (unless you enjoy getting angry at nameless people outside your social group and villainized acronyms… which I suppose some do, as it seems to become an increasingly preoccupying pastime as one gets older).

Another option that would be easy to implement would be to ditch these silly phrases altogether and use a negative sign for BCE dates. Or take that one step further and use astronomical year numbering so that we can have a zero year, though that would involve offsetting all BCE dates by one year.

October 4, 2010 at 9:47 am
(36) Brenda says:

How, exactly, would we teach a new generation of children what the terms BCE/CE stand for. Okay, we know that the initials stand for Before Common Era/Common Era. But when did the Common Era begin? At the time of the birth of Christ! There is no other way to explain this to a child. Of course, then you have to explain who Christ was. Let’s see, the living son of God, or just a very good person that had such a profound impact on the world that the calendar was developed to reflect his birth. Without actually developing a new calendar system dating back to the beginning of life on earth, which would be rather confusing for everyone, it seems we are stuck with the system we have.

November 4, 2010 at 7:35 am
(37) Beredugu says:

IMHO… its quite funny why so much fuss is made about a date. European history and scholarly ways have driven our views on standards. If the Chinese, Arabs or African communicated, documented and spread as much information am sure they would use terms they identify with.

My point? it just a waste of time really. I came across this because i saw BCE and i was wondering what it was all about really. Gosh.. SUCH WASTE!

November 28, 2010 at 8:05 am
(38) Gordon Carson says:

Everyone involved in archaeological work should continue to use BC/AD. There are a number of important reasons for this view:

1. BC/AD has been in use since the dawn of archaeological work. Darwin used this dating system. In his work, The Descent of Man, he referred to other scholarly works, noting their date of publication with this dating system. This brings us to the next point.
2. AD/BC is the dating system which has been used historically for two thousand years. The system provides a simple manner for comparison of the timeline of historical and archaeological events. Were this to be changed simply so some people would feel better, confusion would reign supreme.
3. The use of AD/BC reflects the culture of the Renaissance in which the growth of scientific method was born. The original scientists of the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries were not atheists. They derived their scientific method from their ability to reason. Reason, they claimed, came from God. Descartes, Newton, Galileo and even Copernicus were all Christians. They were all in pursuit of the truth about the natural world and its laws. Unlike some people today, they knew there can be only one truth, an objective standard against which all else must be compared. Truth does not change with regard to its beholder.

December 20, 2010 at 10:33 am
(39) Traci says:

I like Gordon’s answer. Even if we change to CE/BCE, historical texts still have BC/AD, so we have to explain what that means to our children anyway. But since CE/BCE is already out there, it too will have to be explained to our children or anyone for that matter that runs across it and has no idea what it means.

December 20, 2010 at 11:50 am
(40) humble joe says:

Good grief. I despise politial correctness! What a load of garbage. As an engineer, I’ve never met a more pretentious bunch of people as scientists. Scientists are such philosophers. No offense to philosophers. At least they don’t typically hide behind some self-deluded notion of objectivity. By the way, archeaologists don’t own the terms. So, I’ll continue to use BC and AD. Perhaps when I come across one of you smug dirt diggers, I’ll use “the year of our Lord”!

January 3, 2011 at 6:25 pm
(41) Michael says:

I am so sick of people that don’t know the truth about how the world started. In 1million BC Raquel Welch made a movie. How do we know that this was year one? Because there was a judgement; “All Rise” !

January 23, 2011 at 5:10 am
(42) kira america says:

As a follower of Jesus Christ I believe He is the Messiah &therefore God the Son equal to God the Father who died on the cross for all who are dead in their sins (all people). All then could live forever with Him because He rose again in 3 days with a new incorruptible body & ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of God. He will return for those who have accepted Him as Lord and Savior and repented of their sins aka true Christians.

No matter if c.e. or b.c.e. is used it still is uses the same calendar therefore reflects when Christ was supposedy born. 1 bce is still refernces to the birth of Jesus Christ. Yes I’m offended, but understand their hatred of Him & Christians.

February 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm
(43) Mike Maxwell says:

To see a discussion of the AD versus CE controversy as it relates to history, visit http://www.studentsfriend.com/feed/topic11.html.

February 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm
(44) Mike Maxwell says:

In my previous post, I placed a period at the end of the sentence, which rendered the link non-functional. Let me try again.

To see an edited discussion of the AD versus CE controversy as it relates to history, visit this web page: http://www.studentsfriend.com/feed/topic11.html

March 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm
(45) Renzo says:

As a computer scientist and also a Catholic (sort of). I think this is a sterile debate.

As pointed before BCE – CE still uses Jesus Christ supposed birth-year as starting point, therefore the aforementioned PC is misplaced.

What i find annoying is the asymmetry of the new intended system, BCE has 3 letters while CE has 2, Since both have the CE on them I would change just for B and A (Before and After) before and after What? Well you know what, the – and + are a good idea too, but i since it would also allow for the omission of the + sign without consequences.

But following the lazy line of thought i would remain with BC AD simply to avoid updating and because both have 2 letters each. If possible i would change it to BC AC just to eliminate the Latin meaning and improve the symmetry. A counter argument would be that the lack of repeated letters improves clarity making BC AD even more practical, this same argument would work against BCE CE.

As i side note i assure you that using the Atomic Age variant would be decried by more than one group, is imperialistic (reminds of technological superiority of the west, and worst of all of USA), and evokes images of a horror people just don’t like to be remembered of.

March 30, 2011 at 4:47 pm
(46) kirbi says:

“He who does not believe in history is condemned to repeat it.”

March 31, 2011 at 1:01 pm
(47) Jennyct says:

As others have mentioned, there are two reasons why it should stay the same:

1) confusion… I had to google CE to figure out what it meant. While reading an article, I came across the term (about ancient text, no less) and it threw me for a loop. Wouldn’t it be easier for all of us, including people in the future decoding our contemporary literature? It’s like reading Shakespeare; you need a class to understand it. Why add confusion?

2) the real issue… Changing the term does not change the fact that our calendar is based on this historical figure. Whether you are religious or not, you have to agree that the man was a historical figure. And this is what the calendar is based on just as we have Arabic numbering systems and whatever. Nothing wrong with that.

There are many things that I could be offended by, but due to the fact that the intent is not malicious because of tradition, I certainly am not upset.


September 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm
(48) steve says:

CE and BCE seek to revise history. The fact is our calender is based on Christ. You don’t have to believe in Christ to know that our calender is based on Christian dates.

September 27, 2011 at 9:38 pm
(49) varick says:

Use all of them so know matter what they aer changed to people will know with understanding it will be more work but it will be fulfilling.

October 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm
(50) James says:

I think we should stick with what everyone already agreed with and used for thousands of years in the first place. BC/AD. Why? because I had to search online for CE for clarification. Stick with AD and I wouldn’t have taken the time to search for it online, read this, and commented on here.

October 18, 2011 at 11:35 am
(51) MACadoo says:

1) I cannot believe this debate has been going on for over 6 years in this post.

2) I agree with JENNYCT and JAMES. Had the same dilema figuring out what EXACTLY BCE and CE meant,so I GOOGLED it to arrive here.

To avoid confusion of the unwashed masses [of which I am one] keep the AD/BC designation.

Then add to the confusion by using BCE/CE?? What exacty is the Common Era? What was common in 1 AD or 1 BC AND 2011 AD. There is nothing common save the historical figure of Jesus the Christ.

January 19, 2012 at 2:26 am
(52) Blake says:

No bomb or explosion or natural disaster will ever hold as much importance in the history, past and present, as the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. To Christians and Non-Christians his name is known and for the more part respected. The use of BC and AD is more accurate to history. Regardless of what you believe the fact of the matter is that Jesus Christ has send a shock wave of continual change throughout the world that has lasted since the time of Adam and Eve, He alone was worshiped and revered even before his birth. One day we shall all meet Him, and know the he truly is our Lord.

February 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm
(53) Mara says:

It would sure be more interesting to have this conversation if a certain atheist in question could even spell ‘hegemony’, rather than just lob the word out like he even knows what it means.

May 26, 2012 at 9:53 pm
(54) Denis says:

Who developed the calendar that we use today? What are some of the elements named after? What about distant stars and comets? I believe that the people that developed, discovered, invented got to name it. Since the church developed the calendar that we use today it stands to reason that they got to name date, years, months etc.

June 12, 2012 at 3:32 am
(55) Dan says:

It should certainly be CE/BCE as AD/BC refers specifically to a certain religion. This requires that a non-believer or believer in another religion refer to Jesus as “Christ” and “Lord” which is unfair and even downright offensive.
We must bow to the fact that this IS 2012, and changing all of our dates in the history books would be difficult and confusing, but we should at least use Common Era and Before Common Era to be fair to the majority of people.
It is unfair and arrogant of any Christian to expect that they have the right to give the name of their god to everyone’s year.

August 20, 2012 at 11:02 am
(56) Jesus freak says:

I as a Christian believe it should stay bc/ad cause it represents JESUS CHRIST and all atheist just need to get over it we Christian’s are a dominate religion over 40% of the world is Christian and all other religions or 20% and down hill from that but my point is theirs more of use Christians so we get to have it are way. I mean can you blame us Christians who wouldn’t want a loving and caring GOD

August 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm
(57) Rose says:

Truth justifies BC/AD. Reason justifies BC/AD truth. Faith justifies BC/AD truth and reason. Why change what truth, reason, and faith justify?

September 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm
(58) Tim says:

I am interested in how this discussion will be transformed by the education bubble bursting. People are beginning to realize that many degrees from universities are worthless. Who needs mediocre experts when everyone can read and listen to the best scholars online? My suspicion is that famous historians who have the ear of popular culture will end up settling this debate.

October 22, 2012 at 6:28 pm
(59) JP says:

Thank you for the opportunity to vent. My kids go to San Mateo High School and are forced to use this BCE/CE nonsense. I would love to ask the history teacher to employ the same logic and stop using the name “San Mateo” (since it’s a reference to the Christian St. Matthew, of course) and to find a nice, neutral name for the school, like “Common Person High School.” Then let’s move up the Peninsula and wipe out that offensively Christocentric “San Francisco” monicker and call it “Guy who espouses no particular religion Town.” Los Angeles can be renamed the Spanish equivalent of “City of non-denominational spiritual emissaries, or whatever natural phenomena you choose to ascribe to.”

But my kids would die of embarrassment, so I don’t. But, really folks, do we have to scrub our culture of all its colorful and rich linguistic history? Do we really take the etymology of every word so literally, or are we just selectively letting our Christophobia show?

October 25, 2012 at 7:51 pm
(60) USAm says:

They can change it to whatever they like…the fact is this is 2012 A.D…there’s nothing common about 2012 that was common in say 4 A.D…It’s all changed…

this period of A.D however is not gonna last forever it as an end.

Soon we’ll start a new but very very short & Super super Violent Era called J.E (judgement Era) which will last 7years only

Followed by the return of the King to usher in the days of the king with perfect peace and perfect law enforcement for 1000 years l call A.D II

At the end of A.D II , evil men fed up of the iron rule and perfect law enforcement of the king will try to overthrow him but won’t even stand a chance

After this is a new era that’ll last for eternity

so you see it’ll always be A.D or something close to it…man’s opinion doesn’t change a that fact

November 13, 2012 at 11:55 pm
(61) charlie says:

The real issue is one of control, i.e. keeping folks off base, never knowing quite what to say or what others will think about what they say. Once it was acceptable to say Negro, then Negro was out and one had to say Black, the Black was out and Afro-American was required, and later the correct term changed to African-American. Oriental became Asian and now that will generate looks of disdain and condescension. Keep ‘em guessin’. If you can control speech you can control behavior. After Hurricane Katrina, Jesse Jackson scolded the media for referring to the homeless as refugees. “Please don’t call them refugees”.
In order to quash any dialogue and keep one’s ideas and agenda in the forefront, some just keep changing the terms and infer guilt and stupidity for not staying current with the accepted terms of discourse. Keep ‘em off base and guessing and looking evil and dumb. Seems to work.

“It is good for leaders that men do not think.”- Adolph Hitler

December 4, 2012 at 4:03 pm
(62) Donovan says:

I think that it really doesn’t matter wether we use BC/AD or BCE/CE since they are both based on the Christian calnader and birth of Christ.As an atheist I like the idea of not referring to time by the birth of a religious figure I do not believe in but it is meaningless if I am still measuring time based on his birth.it would be nice to wipe the slate and make a new way of dating time but as said it would create mass confusion, therefore it is hard to say what is right to use. But as a message to “Jesus freak” i feel sad that you think that way, just because there 40% of the world is Christian doesn’t mean you get to decide everything for the rest of the world! The pope has no power over Muslim people or Buddhist or atheist and that you believe you can have what you want because there are so many of you just shows why so many people call Christians arragont bigots. It’s people like you that cause tension between religions!

March 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm
(63) Rick U. says:

What is the difference? No one in any of the above posts has explained this to my satisfaction. Archaeologists are interested in a time reference. Period. It’s science, not politics. BC/BCE/CE/AD are all based on the same, generally-universally-accepted time frame.
“BP” is ridiculous because it is based on the year 1950 AD. Why waste time and energy on unscientific political bickering?

March 28, 2013 at 10:15 am
(64) Roland says:

BC/AD It was the academics of the day that came up with this notation of time to begin with. Now the academics of today want to change it. Soon the academics will have changed the notations enough times, that it will take an academic to translate the time.

Leave it alone.

March 29, 2013 at 10:59 am
(65) charlie says:

Eisenhower told us to “beware of the military-industrial complex.” There is, however, another alliance just as self-serving, and just as dangerous. It’s the “Academia- Political Party” complex. Academia passes itself off as the authority on all issues, and connives with the Democratic Party to demonize and neutralize all who don’t adopt their ever changing speech, thought, and behavior edicts. If you can control public speech you can, eventually, control thought and behavior. It’s all about control.

August 19, 2013 at 7:59 am
(66) Babs says:

Before the concept of 0 (zero), mankind could only add up to 9. Had it not been for the inclusion (birth) of ‘Zero’ in our counting system, we would not have achieved any advancement in mathematics, science, computing or measurement of time.
Therefore the concept of ZERO should be considered as an ultra significant point in our system of historical dating.
Note: For measuring temperature we continue using Centigrade (0 – 100), Fahrenheit (32 – 212) or Kelvin (Absolute Zero).
Similarly we could consider having ‘ABSOLUTE ZERO’ system and either alter BCE/CE or introduce ‘BZE’ (Before Zero Era) and ‘ZE’ (Zero Era) and also carry on with the current BC/AD or BCE/CE system if necessary to satisfy all.
Would that possible?

September 29, 2013 at 9:53 pm
(67) charlie says:

Go for it Babs.
2103 AD/BZE/CE
Kind of like asterisks in sports records denoting before or after DH or before or after adding more games to the season or after performance enhancing drug convictions.

November 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm
(68) ukunaka kukulkan says:

I personally call this year 26,001 or 1-6th world as that is how it is on the calendar of my people but for clarity i call it 2013 a.d. anf I’m not Christian , i don’t like the term common era because its really Christian era per say since my people , and muslims, and jews all have different year eras so its really Christian nations and the nations they colonized and heavily influenced that use that calendar date

November 26, 2013 at 12:22 pm
(69) ukunaka kukulkan says:

I personally call this year 26,001 or 1-6th world as that is how it is on the calendar of my people but for clarity i call it 2013 a.d. anf I’m not Christian , i don’t like the term common era because when o see it i think Christian era

Since my people , and muslims, and jews all have different year eras so its really Christian nations and the nations they colonized and heavily influenced that use that calendar date weather it is called c.e. or a.d. so i just use ad since overzealous Christians translate ce as Christian era and i think that’s worse than A..D. on my opinion plus i guess I’m just used to ad

November 26, 2013 at 12:24 pm
(70) ukunaka kukulkan says:

Sorry i thought that didn’t post so i reposted also wanna add that jesus was born before 5b.c. becauae herod was dead in that year

November 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm
(71) ukunaka kukulkan says:

Sorry again for posted ao frequently just also wanted to add that my peoples calendar begins at year zero not 1 and that we celebrate solar new year around nov7-8th with the setting of pleiades star cluster

February 16, 2014 at 3:54 pm
(72) Tom says:

Last fall, I visited in Cincinnati, Ohio a traveling exhibition on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Since the exhibit was developed primarily by the Israeli government’s antiquities department and by other Israeli experts, all the dates in the labels used BCE and AC.

Since the Israelis are primarily non-Christians (i.e., Jewish), this was a very practical way of dating exhibit items in a way that most people around the world, Christian or not, could understand, and yet which did not run afoul of Jewish sensibilities. Muslim countries likewise often use BCE/CE instead of AH (Anno Hegira or After the Hegira) in materials intended for the rest of the world, to stay within the generally accepted international standard dating system.

Those who argue for the labels BC/AD should pause to consider the feelings of non-Christians who have to produce materials for worldwide use. The labels BCE/CE work best for everyone since it fits in with the international standard dating system without making a specifically Christian reference in its labels. Yes, it derives from an originally Christian idea, but so what? The metric system was originally developed within the atheistic ideals of the French Revolution, but that hasn’t prevented religiously-devout people all over the world from embracing its logic and simplicity. “Arabic” numbers originated in the Muslim world, but their clear advantages convinced Christians and other non-Muslims to voluntarily adopt them. Just because something has a religious-based origin does not invalidate its use.

April 17, 2014 at 2:30 am
(73) ross morris says:

what is the big deal with people always wanting to change the established history of the human experience? replowing the same ground to appease certain religious views does nothing to advance our understanding of anything beyond personal beliefs. new ground, new ideas, new areas of exploration-this is what advances the human experience-not rehashing or rebranding existing ideas and accepted data just to be dfferent.

April 26, 2014 at 1:04 pm
(74) Tat says:

With all the anti-scientific, ant-archaeology, anti-philosophical, etc talk…. Wow am I amazed at all the self righteous religious attitudes over the years that this article has been out here. You’d think that using a different dating method is somehow a direct attack on the Christian faith or something. What is wrong with listing several different designations? Why can’t we post it as BC/AD, CE/BCE, YBP, etc..? Teaching us of the different dating methods, and how they correspond with each other, thus increasing the understanding of all methods? Why is it a mad grab to hold on to BC/AD based on religious reasons and anti-scientific emotions and propaganda. Relax, enjoy yourself, learn something new.

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