AD, BC and CE, BCE
I’ve always thought this stuff was foolishness. Whether you are a christian, an atheist, a muslim or whatever you like, our current calender and year numbering system in most of the world is based on the purported year Christ was born (or conceived). I see little reason not to let it be known, rather than merely renaming Anno Domini (year of our Lord), CE, for no reason other than to distance the term from the real reason the “Common Era” begins in a certain year. If one want to truly secularize the numbering of years, than this is a stupid way of doing it.
Our calendar is based on Christianity, and it is as good an arbitrary marker as any. Merely renaming something doesn’t change that.
If one truly thinks there is a problem with the arbitrary year numbers we use, than you should really just find a new event with which to start the “common era” or switch to another scheme entirely. A few examples follow. (for me, its Before Christ and Anno Domini, like I said, its as good a system as any other.)
Alternate suggestions from me would be using the Norman Invasion of Britain in 1066 as a start point or the founding of the Roman Republic or alternately the Empire some years after. Again, its foolish to the extreme, but if we must, lets actually make it secular, rather than just painting over it.
Note: Even from a purely secular standpoint, I can’t see why there is an issue with starting our calendar at a point which really was, a few centuries later, a defining moment (true or not) in the history of the world. Everyone has to recognize the vast importance of Christianity in shaping Europe, which shaped the world we live in today. Imagine a world where the Roman empire did not become christian. Imagine a world where Islam did not exist. Imagine, most other events happening as they did anyway, a world where the crusades did not unify Europe and drag that part of the world out of the Dark Ages, without the vast quantity of forgotten knowledge brought back from the Middle east, without writing and the knowledge that was kept alive by monasteries in Ireland and parts of Northern Europe. Obviously the birth of Jesus (again, fact or fiction) set the stage for the next 1600, if not fully 2000 years.