Why Do We Use CE Instead of AD?

Instead of using the traditional labels BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini), a growing number of individuals and institutions have chosen to embrace the alternative designations BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era). This shift stems from a desire for religious neutrality in the modern world. As the Gregorian calendar has established itself as the global norm, adherents of non-Christian religions might question the inclusion of BC and AD, which find their roots in Christian history. By adopting BCE/CE, proponents seek to create a more inclusive and culturally sensitive framework that transcends religious boundaries.

Why Might Some People Prefer to Use BCE CE to Describe the Date of Events in Historical Terms Instead of BC AD?

By using BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) instead of BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini), individuals aim to adopt a more religiously neutral approach when referring to historical dates. The Gregorian calendar has gained widespread acceptance and serves as the international standard. However, embracing BC and AD, with their clear Christian connotations, may generate concerns and objections from individuals belonging to non-Christian faiths.

Religious neutrality is the primary reason for the adoption of BCE/CE. Scholars and historians who aim to create an inclusive and non-biased environment often choose these terms in their research and academic publications. This approach allows them to avoid the potential exclusionary implications of BC and AD, ensuring that individuals from various cultural and religious backgrounds can engage with historical events without feeling marginalized or alienated.

Moreover, the use of BCE and CE helps to foster a more secular environment in educational settings. Given that educational institutions often aim to promote diversity and inclusivity, employing terms that are more inclusive, such as BCE and CE, aligns with these objectives. It allows educators to navigate potential conflicts that may arise when teaching students from different religious backgrounds, while maintaining an atmosphere of respect and understanding.

Additionally, using BCE and CE can contribute to overcoming ethnocentrism and cultural biases. By adopting a standardized and neutral dating system, it becomes easier to bridge historical and cultural gaps. This approach helps individuals from different backgrounds better understand, appreciate, and compare historical events, promoting cross-cultural dialogue and mutual understanding.

By employing these terms, individuals can strive to create and maintain an environment that respects and appreciates the diverse perspectives and beliefs of people worldwide.

Examples of Historical Events Being Reevaluated or Reinterpreted Due to the Use of BCE/CE

  • The Battle of Hastings in 1066, marking the Norman conquest of England
  • The signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, concluding World War I
  • The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492
  • The fall of the Roman Empire in 476 CE
  • The French Revolution in 1789, leading to the end of the monarchy in France
  • The Industrial Revolution, which began in the late 18th century
  • The abolition of slavery in various countries throughout the 19th century
  • The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945
  • The moon landing of Apollo 11 in 1969
  • The rise of the internet and the digital age in the late 20th century

Throughout history, different cultures and belief systems have employed various dating systems to mark the passage of time. One such distinction that often arises is between AD (Anno Domini) and CE (Common Era). While these two terms might seem distinct, they actually refer to the same years—just from different perspectives. CE, standing for “Common Era,” offers a more secular alternative to the traditional AD, effectively denoting the same date in a non-religious context. For instance, the year 2022 CE and 2022 AD represent the exact same point in time.

Are AD and CE the Same?

AD and CE are often used interchangeably to refer to the same time period, but they’ve slightly different origins and connotations. AD stands for Anno Domini, a Latin phrase meaning “in the year of our Lord.”. It defines the years that have passed since the estimated birth of Jesus Christ, serving as a central reference point for the Christian calendar.

The decision to use CE as an alternative to AD arose from the desire to use a more neutral and inclusive dating system that doesn’t explicitly reference a particular religious figure or belief system. By shifting to the Common Era, the intention is to create a more globally acceptable and inclusive standard for measuring time. This change is particularly relevant in educational and academic settings, where maintaining religious neutrality is of utmost importance.

In practical terms, the year 2022 CE is exactly the same as 2022 AD. Both systems utilize the same calendar and count the years in the same manner, starting from the approximate birth of Jesus Christ. The only difference lies in the terminology used to describe the era. While AD emphasizes the Christian context, CE provides a more secular and all-encompassing reference point for indicating historical time.

The choice between using AD or CE often depends on personal preference, cultural context, or the requirements of a specific setting. However, regardless of the terminology used, both systems ultimately refer to the same years and serve the purpose of keeping track of time in human history.

Historical Development of the AD and CE Dating Systems.

The historical development of the AD (Anno Domini) and CE (Common Era) dating systems can be traced back to the early Christian era. AD was initially used by early Christians to reference years after the birth of Jesus Christ, while CE emerged as a secular alternative to AD in the 17th century. Both systems essentially chronicle the same timeline but with different labels. It’s important to note that discussing the historical context and evolution of these dating systems doesn’t promote or endorse any religious beliefs.

However, it’s essential to understand that the use of BC, AD, BCE, and CE in historical dating remains a topic of debate. While BC and AD were widely used in Western culture for centuries, there’s been a shift towards BCE and CE as more inclusive alternatives. This transition acknowledges the diverse range of beliefs and cultures worldwide and aims to provide a more neutral framework for discussing historical events.

What Does BC AD and CE Stand For?

BCE and CE are alternative terms used to refer to the traditional BC and AD system of dating. The shift towards BCE and CE is largely motivated by a desire for a more inclusive and secular terminology. By using BCE and CE, it allows for a more inclusive approach that doesn’t directly reference Christianity.

This term is often used in academic and scholarly circles, as it avoids religious connotations and is more widely accepted in an increasingly diverse and multicultural world.

On the other hand, CE stands for “common era,” which replaces the traditional AD, meaning “anno Domini” or “the year of the lord.”. This shift is aimed at creating a more neutral and secular system of dating that can be embraced by individuals of various cultural and religious backgrounds.


The decision to use BCE/CE instead of BC/AD stems from a recognition of the need for religious neutrality and inclusivity in the modern world. As the Gregorian calendar has emerged as the universally accepted standard, it’s crucial to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their religious beliefs, feel included and represented. By replacing BC/AD with BCE/CE, we acknowledge and respect the diversity of cultures and faiths, fostering an environment of inclusiveness and understanding. This shift not only promotes religious neutrality but also reflects our evolving understanding of history, recognizing that the world's timeline isn’t centered solely around Christianity. Ultimately, the adoption of BCE/CE serves as a testament to our commitment to embrace and respect the rich tapestry of human experiences that make up our global community.

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