Dating Conventions

I figured that here I would talk about dating conventions because I will eventually be posting about ancient and medieval battles as well.

The question is A.D. & B.C. or C.E. & B.C.E.?

The current convention says that C.E. & B.C.E standing for Common Era & Before Common Era are what we should use in modern scholarship.  The reasoning is that A.D. & B.C. are religious in nature and therefore exclusionary terms.  Sorry, I call bullshit on that.  A.D. & B.C. may be religious terms, I don’t dispute that, but they are also what people have been using for literally hundreds of years.  Trying to change dating conventions because of some perceived inequality is just stupid.  That is all there is to it.  A.D. stands for Anno Domini, Latin for Year of our Lord while B.C. is plain English for Before Christ.  On this blog I will use the Gregorian calendar with B.C. & A.D. and I will not care if people choose to get offended about it.  B.C. & A.D. have been used for a long time and I will continue to use that dating convention despite some politically correct people’s feelings about it.

There has been some controversy over the use of the new dating conventions.  See for one explanation of this silly debate; pay particular attention to the comment at the bottom.

3 thoughts on “Dating Conventions”

  1. You know, I will let you in on some wonderful computer programs: it’s called TeX/LaTeX (pronounced “tech” or “la-tech”, respectively).

    It lets you write “macros”, which is kinda like an abbreviation for writing.

    In other words, you can write “In 410 \AD{}, Alaric sacked Rome.” You can use your personal preference, and in only a single line of code at the beginning of your document you write “\def\AD{AD}”…and if people object to this convention, you just change that single line to be “\def\AD{CE}” and the output changes.

    Mathematicians and physicists use LaTeX because it lets us write funky mathematical formulas easily. The down side is that you get beautifully typeset pdfs (see, e.g., my notes on mathematical physics at…so it’s wonderful for academic articles and personal notes, but horrible for trying to publish on the web.

    Interested Windows users should look up MikTeX, Linux users TeX-live, and Mac users could use MacTeX.

  2. I agree with your rejection of the pro-BCE-CE argument, and I have listed four reasons for this in more detail (see my website link above). But more briefly, the bottom line is that it is just plain silly to use BCE-CE rather than BC/AD. If we were to honestly adopt a “no offending another” policy in the study of history, then we might as well not study history at all, since it is full of “offensive” material. Yet, aren’t the people who are so afraid of “offending” by using BC/AD the same people who tend to research the salacious topics of history?

    • I agree. I think it is kind of funny that those that would have us change dating conventions to avoid creating offense are the same people that think there is some magic bullet that will allow people to interact without ever causing offense. To me, that would be a very boring world to live in.

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