2 March 2005

Before Common Era

Contrary to what several NSW MPs have expressed outrage over today, BCE is actually a very established standard in the study of history, and should be appropriate for use in study at all levels.

There are a few reasons why it has been promoted as a replacement for the BC era indicator:

  • Despite there being a standard for the end of the BC era, and the start of the AD, the date of Christ's actual birth is still disputed by historians. Using dates with "before Christ" in the name might imply otherwise.
  • Despite being the largest religion in Australia, Christianity is not the religion of the majority of the world's population. As the Gregorian calendar is the most accepted world-wide, it makes sense to provide a term for the current era that doesn't imply anything about the religious perspective of the person using it.

    As an example, would all Christian people be comfortable discussing dates in years since the Prophet Muhammad came?

In summary, both the Education Minister and the Opposition education spokewoman are unjustified in criticising the completely correct use of BCE. Their naïveté is just a demonstration of how careful we need to be in choosing those responsible for education in our society.