Ancient History

Teaching History why use Bce and Ce instead of Bc and Ad

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As a history teacher, I have had to work with texts which substitute the traditional "B.C." (Before Christ) with "B.C.E." (Before The Common Era), and "C.E." (Common Era) for "A.D." (Anno Domini, "In the Year of Our Lord"). The alleged justification for this is the politically correct but intellectually indefensible idea that reference to Jesus Christ "offends" non-Christians, so we must tip-toe around their tender, mostly secular humanist, feelings.

But what exactly distinguishes between "B.C.E." and "C.E."? We history teachers are asked that many times by students, and we have to waste a lot of class time explaining the illogic behind the substitution for "B.C." and "A.D." What marks the difference between the 1st century B.C.E. and the 1st century C.E.? There were no major political upheavals in empires, no new technological innovations, no massive migrations or invasions, plagues, famines, etc. One event and one event only marks the difference, as added by Roman historians back-dating after the Empire became Christian in the 4th century A.D.: the birth of Jesus Christ.

This is the Roman (Gregorian) calendar we are using; we do not ask the Chinese to change their calendar lest we be "offended" by The Year of The Rat or Dragon or Pig or whatever; we do not ask the Jewish people or Muslims to alter their calendars simply because we are not Jews or Muslims. If people are so "offended" by B.C. and A.D. then I suggest they have too much time on their hands and should worry about more substantial problems in the world.

What do we mean by "common"? Common law wife? Boston Common? The Book of Common Prayer? It is ridiculous, but most politically correct ideas are. Even if they were to change it to "B.C.E."-"Before The Christian Era", then it would make sense, since that at least gives us an historical event to work with. Imagine trying to teach a class on Western civilization but you could not mention The Industrial Revolution, for fear you might offend people who do not use modern industry, such as The Amish. What kind of nonsense would that be? The same as those who use "Common Era".

Many secular humanists would like to pretend we live in a "post-Christian" era, which is why they have to substitute "Common Era" (dopey term!) for "Christian Era" (historically accurate). After all, as far as this tiny, elite, and well-to-do clique is concerned, the Christian period of Western civilization was kind of like when we were kids and believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Now we are supposed to be all smart, sophisticated, materialistic and atheist-right? Wrong. That is not the reflection of the present third dimensional reality. Organized religion, especially Christianity, is on the rise; it is secularism and atheism that is on the decline.

I refuse to use the P.C. method of dating history. I will continue to use B.C. and A.D. This is not even from a faith perspective as a Christian, but from an intellectually honest perspective as a history teacher. I realize that must make me a minority, but administrators can't give me a hard time, then-it's not politically correct to pick on minorities.

More about this author: Peter Beolingus

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