Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Newt: Elites Make the Baby Jesus Cry

And once again we get the ridiculous spectacle of one of the undeniable elites in this country ranting incoherently against elites:

“The American elites are guided by their desire to emulate the European elites,” he said in prepared remarks he stuck closely to in his speech, “and, as a result, anti-religious values and principles are coming to dominate the academic, news media, and judicial class in America.”

By what possible definition is Newt Gingrich not an American elite, other than ethically? He is one of the single most influential political figures in the entire country, he is very wealthy and he has risen as high as being one of the handful of men in line to be the most powerful man in the world should those ahead of him die.

Now on to the “substance” of his rant:

Need proof? Gingrich said just look at the calendar.

“There is now a convention in scientific publications to replace Anno Domini (AD) with common era (CE),” Gingrich said. “This is an entirely artificial and intellectually incoherent dating system. There is no common era.”

This will not stand, Gingrich said.

The year 2011 is a Christian date. This year is 5771 in the Hebrew tradition. It is 1432 anno Hegirae in the Islamic calendar. It is Vikram Samvat 2067 in the most commonly used Hindu calendar. And of course, in remembrance of the first great anti-Christian (and failed) revolution, it is 219 in the French Revolutionary calendar. Factual honesty would lead the scientific community to revert to AD as their designator but secular cultural pressure rejects recognition of the Christian calendar in favor of an artificial replacement.

This — and other examples from the courts — were examples of “secular extremists” setting out to “impose their anti-religious bigotry” on the world around them.

How amusing. After listing five different starting points and nomenclatures for assigning dates, he then declares — without even an attempt at an argument — that “factual honesty” demands that they only use one of them and no other and that, despite the fact that the starting point has been re-calibrated innumerable times (he didn’t mention lots of other cultures with different starting points) by different societies, the Christian one is the One True Way.

I would say that factual honesty demands that one recognize that such designated starting points are merely matters of arbitrary, often false historical contingencies and changing them has happened dozens of times throughout history. Which means changing them one more time simply isn’t that big a deal.

Besides, in this case those who argue for using BCE and CE are not even trying to change the starting point of the birth of Christ (even though that date is almost certainly wrong). They just want to rename the eras because, obviously, it’s rather absurd for a non-Christian to refer to “456 AD” when AD means “the year of our Lord” and Christ is not their lord.