BBC presenter accused of attacking Christianity with CE reference

BBC presenter accused of attacking Christianity with CE reference January 9, 2019
Image via YouTube

MY belief that Christianity was concocted to keep people in a perpetual state of alarm, despondency, loathing, fear – and especially fury – was strengthened  today when I read that popular TV presenter Jeremy Paxman, above, had recently angered Christians by using the religiously-neutral Common Era (CE) in his University Challenge programme. 

His failure to use the preferred Christian term AD (Anno Domini), said critics, suggested disrespect for Christianity

Twitter user William Norris said:

Our Christian heritage is being eradicated from our culture by the BBC and the likes of Paxman.

Expecting anything but disdain for superstitious clap-trap from the often-outspoken and formidable interviewer is an exercise in futility, given that he has already been censured by the BBC for saying that the Genesis myth is “religious hogwash” and that people with a literal belief in the Old Testament are “stupid” in a 2012 Newsnight interview with Professor Richard Dawkins.

The longstanding presenter ignited fresh anger when he used Common Era when describing the year when Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as state religion.

Another brainless fussbudget tweeted:

This constant removal of all things Christian disgusts me, but it’s the BBC!

And Simon Wilson tweeted:

I do wish Paxman would stop referring to the ‘common era’ and ‘before common era’; it should be BC and AD.

The traditional terms BC (Before Christ) and Anno Domini – which means ‘in the year of our Lord’ in ancient Latin – have increasingly fallen out of use in areas of popular culture, while BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era), which do not hold religious connotations, have become more prominent.

I have been using BCE and CE for more than 20 years, especially to wind up the traditionalists.

On the Religion and Ethics Tool page of its website, the BBC says it favours the terms as a “religiously neutral alternative to BC/AD”.

Figures including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton have previously defended the use of BC and AD.

"If some of these people will do as they say, they'll all end up in ..."

Angry anti-vaxxers reportedly ‘lose their minds’ ..."
"Notice they said not ONE WORD about the Bible."

Software glitch bans words like ‘Jesus’ ..."
"I'm working from a translation ( ) so this is not definitive. If anyone ..."

Ecuador legalises gay marriage and Catholics ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • WallofSleep

    Oh FFS! Stuff like this reminds me that my country isn’t the only one populated by whiny snowflakes that will cry over the most trivial of things. Misery loves company, I guess.

  • Snagglefritz Sagenschnitter

    200 years ago they could have burned him at the stake for blasphemy.
    Today all they can do is twitter. (How the mighty have fallen.)

  • Jim Jones

    > Figures including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton have previously defended the use of BC and AD.

    They don’t even realize how stupid they are being. This is not the hill to die on.

  • WallofSleep

    But they’ve already lost so many hills they seemed willing to die on, this may be the only ground they have left. Can’t we let them die on this one? Or is being a martyr only worth it when it gets to live?

    Wait, what…

  • Paul

    Never interrupt your opponents when they are making a mistake.

  • Broga

    These whiny, creepy, sad, craven, no hopers are now in a panic as their ability to lord it over the rest of us fades. And, what causes the most terrible fear in their imaginary souls, is that the truth is being voiced on airwaves they continue to censor. If they don’t like what they hear then let them discuss it openly on air and exchange opinions. Instead they state their pathetic disappointments as if they were based on facts.

  • Broga

    Carey has his other concerns at the moment as he being asked by the current paedophile inquiry about what he knew about paedophile clergy. Prince Charles said he was disappointed that he had been deceived by one of them – a bishop, I think. Charles being a very important person – for obscure reasons difficult to understand – sent a letter and chose not to appear in person.

  • Blotto

    So dumb… although honestly, from a secular perspective, this is one of the more contrived secularisations I’ve come across. “Let’s remove the religious connotations from dates.” “Okay, leaving aside that literally no-one is affected by this, when shall we put year 0?” “Where it is now.” “So it still relates to the fictional birth date of the founder of Christianity?” “Um…”

    I agree with Richard Carrier on this one. As dumb a hill as it is to die on, it was a dumb hill to build in the first place.

  • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

    I used to think the whole CE BCE thing was silly. It’s just a name, isn’t it? Why does it matter?

    But then I heard Christians use AD/BC/The Year of Our Lord as “proof” that we’re an inherently Christian society, since we use the nominal date of Christ’s birth as the origin in our Calendar. I think it is important to switch to make the point that the choice of year 1 is arbitrary for much of the world, that it’s only used because a powerful nation spread its use throughout Europe, Europe spread it to the Americas and it became convenient for the rest of the world to use a single Calendar.

  • TrickyDicky

    A calendar based on the notional beginning of human civilisation (the Holocene Era) is far more logical and avoids all religious connections and the absence of year 0.

    It just adds 10,000 to the current date, Happy New Year 12019HE

  • Geoff Benson

    I’d love to see Jeremy Paxman interview Trump. The result would not be pretty!

  • Sophotroph

    Funny then, that nobody’s dying on it.

    It’s another required way, in this end of the Christian Era, to say “No, it isn’t” to Christians who are still doing their damnedest (ha) to tell everyone “This world is ours, uh, I mean God’s, and so is everything in it!”

  • Jim Baerg

    They could just take CE as standing for Christian Era.
    Since the dating is set up to be from the best guess a Dark Ages monk could make at when Christ was born, it seems a bit silly to object to AD & BC. Why not continue to use those & emphasize that the dating is wrong anyway.

  • Judy Thompson

    If it’s so damned important, then why on earth are we not saying “in the umpty-bump year of our beloved Queen, ElizabethII” or some such.

  • GShelley

    “Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era), which do not hold religious connotations”
    I’d dispute that they don’t hold religious connotations, as they still center around the same date. Instead, I’d say the religious connotations are slightly less explicit.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    We should date things like they did in ancient times. IE this would be the 3rd year of Donny the tweeter Twit.

  • Elizabeth A. Root

    I don’t care all that much since arguably the CE doesn’t apply to any other culture besides Jews — I’m not much of a symbolic thinker. In the database I add to, I use bc/bce. But I do hate bc/bce dates — they’re confusing. Around the millenium, it occurred to me that if we just added 100,000 years to all dates, we could get rid of them. That would make this 102,019. A friend argued that we only need to add 30,000,—whatever. It would be rough in the beginning, but then it would be simple.

    My neighbor, like the people described here, objected that Christianity was an important influence. I pointed out that I wasn’t trying to eliminate the religion, just make dating simpler — surely he as an engineer could understand that.

    Not that I care if the religion is eliminated, but we only have this dating because the early religion survived without it. It wasn’t devised until the 6th century or widely used befor 800 ad/ce.

  • Elizabeth A. Root

    They used to. It’s just that historians translate it to the common dating system for the rest of us in their writings. European countries also used to start their years at different dates, often in the spring — another trap for the unwary.

    I read that in the Roman Republic, the new year originally began in the spring, but then changed to January when a crisis made it necessary to seat the new consuls early. Sort of like the US moving the presidential inaugurations from March to January. I
    don’t know how this tied in with the god Janus presiding over the new year. Did they rename the months? The Romans dated things from the traditional date of the founding of the city and also referred to them as the of the consulship of X and Y.

    I keep meaning to read up on this.

  • Elizabeth A. Root

    I agree. I like the idea of reworking the dating to eliminate all bc/bce dates. The transition would be tough, but it would be simpler for future generations, if we don’t destroy humanity in some cataclysm.

  • Elizabeth A. Root

    I love the idea. But is that long enough to eliminate all negative, ie, bc/bce dates?

  • Vanity Unfair

    I suppose you realise that to Christians there is only one death on one hill that has any real meaning.

  • Blotto

    Funny then, that nobody’s dying on it.

    That’s kind of my point… it’s trivial.

    I don’t get how expunging all religious heritage is “required”, even if I vainly believed that christianity was going away in my lifetime. I know I live in a fairly privileged part of the world, where I can send my daughter to a “church school” and she’ll come home knowing more about world religions than I do, and where my liberties aren’t under serious threat, and no-one is trying to push creationism in schools and gay marriage is legal and celebrated, but this seems pointlessly vindictive.

    BC/AD is culturally embedded in a way that has become distinct from its religious origin, through media and academic usage, and any christian who sincerely tried to argue for their authority from the names we give our dates would be laughed out of pretty much any discussion even by their peers.

    Again, not disagreeing that the people taking issue with BCE/CE for religious reasons are dumb, I just find the reverse equally dumb.

  • Phil

    I think we should remove the gods from the days and months too. Thursday becomes Darwinday for example.

  • Jim Jones

    The mythical death of the mythical Jesus? So pointless.

  • Blotto

    I saw a fantastic Reddit post on the craziness of roman calendars. It was highly political, with months sandwiched into other months, and needed calibration as it would go out of sync with the seasons. It’s fascinating that such a successful civilization got by with such a chaotic calendar!

  • rationalobservations?

    The third largest and fastest growing human demographic of the godless don’t believe in a god-man named “Jesus” or a god named “Yahweh” and do not attribute the Common Era calendar to any fictional god-man as used by the majority of the human population who are non-christian and/or non-believers in all religious mythology.

    There is no mention of “Jesus” or the common era calendar within either of the two ridiculous creation myths within any of the diverse and different versions of bibles.

    There is no biblical authority for BC/AD; it was created over 500 years after the events described in the Christian “New Testaments” and was not accepted usage until after another 500 years had passed. The use of BCE/CE certainly has become more common and universal in recent years but it is not a new invention of the “politically correct” nor is it even all that new; the use of “common era” in place of A.D. first appears in German in the 17th century CE and in English in the 18th. The use of this designation in dating has nothing to do with “removing one of many “Christ/messiah” claimants from the calendar” and everything to do with accuracy when dealing with historical events.

  • Paul

    OK, in I think that henceforth I shall refer to this year as 78 A.D. ( After Dawkins )

  • I think that as well. And I suspect that there are at least a few people out there that think BCE and CE mean Before the Christian Era and Christian Era.

  • Vanity Unfair

    I rather like “the month of the Doorman”.

  • Elizabeth A. Root

    John Maddox Roberts wrote my favorite Ancient Rome mystery series, SPQR. XIII is titled The Year of Confusion. It is in large part about Julius Caesar’s imposition of the Julian Calendar.

  • David Cromie

    Well done Paxo Kid. It is about time the BC and AD designations were removed from common parlance, because of the unwarranted impression they give that everyone believes in a particular sky fairy, and that there ever was a man-god named JC (for which there is no evidence, whether written or archaeological).

  • David Cromie

    On the other hand, these conventional names remind us of our Pagan roots, and of how much they once regulated the lives of our ancestors in a polytheistic age, and that monotheism is no less superstition bound, or deluded.

  • David Cromie

    They “… center around the same date”.

    This supposed ‘date’ is entirely fictitious.

  • GShelley

    Well yes, which is another reason I don’t see it as not having religious connotations – It’s based on the imaginary birthdate of a religious figure.

  • Steven Watson

    It is bollocks whatever you call it as you are still dating from the “birth” of “Jesus”.

  • Steven Watson

    Bafflingy CE/BCE was initially usage of Jewish scholars, even though they have their own dating system.

  • Aw diddums! Christians have to deal with a TV presenter who uses the term “Common Era” rather than “Anno Domini”! Watever shall we do? Christianity is doomed!

    It’s ridiculous! Only Christians can combine a monumental persecution complex with a massive sense of entitlement. I’m not a fan of Jeremy Paxman – I think he’s somewhat of an upper class twit, but in this case he happens to be right. Not everyone is a Christian, and the BBC has to be accessible to those of all faiths and none.

  • Nonsense! It was the year of the Consulship of Caesar and Paullus, in the 28th year of the reign of Augustus. 😀

  • Barros Serrano

    In the U$A the Christian Right whines every time we push back some of the Christian repression which has plagued this country from the beginning.

    Oh we don’t want their religion in our public schools, so it’s a “War on Christianity”. No, it’s a war of Liberation from Christianity!