What year is it for an atheist?

As we know, the global calendar year is based on years after Christ’s death and resurrection (using the Anno Domini thing). Since atheists don’t believe in Jesus Christ, what year is it for an atheist?

Posted: May 19th 2008


It’s 2008. If you want more specificity you can use CE (what historians use), but I don’t have anything against using AD.

People who think that using AD is a tacit endorsement of Christianity should be careful to never use “Thursday”.

Posted: May 23rd 2008

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

George Locke

It’s 2008 years since the supposed birth of Christ. Many biblical scholars believe that the conjunction of venus and jupiter in 3 BC was the star that announced Christ’s birth, so it’s 2010 years after the supposed birth of Christ, but the standard our society goes by says 2008.

Being an atheist doesn’t obligate you to poke at religious types every time they ask you a mundane question like, “When were you born?” Being snarky won’t win you friends. I could decide to count from the eruption of Krakatoa, say it’s the year 125 AK, confuse the hell out of everyone who asked me my birthday, and get F’s on history tests, but that’s stupid.

As for CE and BCE, I’m not very fond of them because they still define the 'common era’ as being the time after the birth of Christ, even though they don’t call it that. Renaming AD and BC doesn’t change the fact that the years are still counting up from the supposed birth of Christ, and I enjoy a little anachronism in my life so I stick with AD and BC.

Posted: May 21st 2008

See all questions answered by George Locke


I never gave the usage of BC and AD much thought, as when I used these abbreviations I would never think of Christ, but just as a default standardized setting. Recently, I encountered a Christian who used the prevalence of the use of BC and AD as proof of the existence of Christ. I now try to use BCE and CE as much as possible.

Posted: May 21st 2008

See all questions answered by logicel

flagellant www

I have no difficulty in using AD, although there is an argument for using CE (Common Era), with the same numbers, instead of AD. This nomenclature may take over one day. However, dating systems aren’t the sort of thing to be dogmatic about, otherwise we’re as bad as the religiosi. Different civilisations use the AD/BC system, because of the influence of western colonialism. It’s a matter of pragmatism.

One has to start counting somewhere, and the western AD/BC is as good as anything. It is amusing to note, though, that scholars think that 'the birth of Christ’ happened several years before 0 BC/AD, so that, strictly speaking, our count is a few years out. We might now well be in 2010.

Some atheists feel very aggrieved at the way in which religion has dominated our history. But it’s part of our cultural heritage and we just have to put up with it. I am much more concerned with the unduly strong influence of religion on modern life. My attitude to religion is that it is 'An activity for consenting adults in private’.

There are many other things, with religious derivations, that have slipped into our language. 'Good bye’ is an example (from the Middle English 'God be with ye’). I’m quite relaxed about this.

In practice, I seldom find myself having to use 'BC’ or 'AD’; it’s usually clear from the context. If I have to, it doesn’t worry me. Communication and understanding are more important than haughty principles.

Posted: May 21st 2008

See all questions answered by flagellant

SmartLX www

It’s 2008.

Just like how it’ll shortly be Thursday, aka Thor’s Day (it’s a more complicated descent than that, but that is where the name comes from), despite the fact that believers in the Norse pantheon are now in an extreme minority. It’s just that nobody can be bothered to change it across the whole world at once. Tradition is a powerful thing.

If CE and BCE catch on, they’ll still be centred upon the supposed year of the birth of Jesus. Nobody wants to inflict upon the world the confusion of having to read two different years for decades while everyone gets accustomed to a reset. The Chinese system is only different because it had millenia of tenure before it even met the Gregorian calendar.

I do what the majority of people, even Christians, do most of the time. I say BC and AD, and don’t bother to think about what they stand for, let alone what they mean.

Posted: May 20th 2008

See all questions answered by SmartLX

bitbutter www

When we ask “what year is it?” all that matters is that the answerer is using the same reference point as the one we have in mind. At the time of writing, the reference point that most of the world uses is a moment 2008 years ago.

Incidentally, the hero of the Christian narrative is alleged to have promised to return to earth in glory within the lifetime of his followers. If the Christians were right, the return of their leader would be about 1900 years too late, and counting.

Those who don’t accept the problematic claims of Christianity, but who recognise the wisdom of using the same numbering scheme as everyone else, may prefer to use the abbreviations CE (common era) and BCE as consciousness-raising alternatives to AD and BC.

Posted: May 20th 2008

See all questions answered by bitbutter


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