Paul Gadzikowski

Where the 2001ists go wrong

It took me almost two years to figure out what it is that bugs me when people insist adamantly that the date the third millennium started was January 1, 2001, instead of January 1, 2000.

As anyone who's indulged in this fruitless argument must already know: When the Anno Domini calendar was created, the calculation of the year of Jesus' birth was placed some three to six years late. Granted that two thousand time units have not passed until the end of the unit numbered 2000; but the numbering is wrong in the first place. (Something else I never saw taken note of - besides on the tv show Charmed - is that the calendar itself has been revised at least once, as with the conversion from the Julian to the Gregorian. So no year's January 1 is the turn of the millennium. Further mud in the mix.) So, while I never argued that the 2000ists are right, I argued that the 2001ists are equally wrong and needed to stop raining on the parade.

So I took the argument this far the last time I got involved in it in an internet forum. I received several responses, publically and privately, telling me that our calendar is now "Common Era" rather than "Anno Domini" and no longer has anything to do with a man whose existence isn't even verified by modern historical science.

(This was communicated to me dosed with personal abuse of varying degree from message to message; including an accusation from one e-correspondent of being "some sort of religious nut". I assume what was meant was "a Fundamentalist Christian". I'm not a Fundamentalist Christian, I'm a Christian Taoist.)

Now that's nonsense to me, because whether Jesus really existed or not isn't really relevant. Hasn't Christianity been the most unifying and the most devisive force in western history - if not in world history - for the last two thousand years? Isn't that why we count our years the way we do?

If that's not what we're counting, what is it we're celebrating two thousand years of? Two thousand years since we started counting our years from then? No it's not, the Anno Domini calendar didn't come into being till about five hundred years after that. So numbers don't have to signify anything any more, they're important just for themselves? Ask me why I resigned.

If you want a calendar that has nothing to do with Jesus, pick someone or something else you like better, and count the years from that date. Pick well and it'll catch on - that's where new calendars come from. But don't give the calendar we have a new, politically correct name and then tell me that that means it now has nothing to do with Jesus.

These guys' reaction (they were all males, if that's significant) was of religious anti-religionism. They were being just as intolerant, and just as blindly so, as the right-wing Christians which they despise ... and that makes them hypocrites.

And that's why I called the argument "fruitless" at the top of this essay. I quit that internet forum after receiving these replies, without even attempting to rebut them, because that was when I realized that/why they weren't going to listen and that they weren't people I wished to subject myself to.

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