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Neophyte's avatar

What historical event would mark year 0 on a secular calendar?

Asked by Neophyte (270 points ) January 29th, 2012

What would be the event that marked the first year of a secular calendar, that is, an event in no way related to religion. Keep in mind practicality, for the simple reason that a year will some 11 digits that is based on the formation of Earth, or the Big Bang, would be very tedious, and not necessary.

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31 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

I live in the United States so I propose 1776 as a baseline since we are the greatest country in the galaxy.

amujinx's avatar

I would go with the year that Newton’s “Principia Mathematica” was published, so 1687. So this would be year 325 A.N. (after Newton). The years before 0 A.N. would be considered D.A. (Dark Ages) since “Principia Mathematica” is considered one of the starting points of the Age of Enlightenment.

Jeruba's avatar

I’d be inclined to choose the earliest date for which we have a clear record—the line between written history and prehistory, whenever that was and in whoever’s culture. I wouldn’t care if it were Chinese, Indian, Persian, Egyptian, or any other. I’d just favor a single timeline that goes in one direction from the known starting point.

jerv's avatar

I need to learn to type faster; @Jeruba beat me to it :p

zenvelo's avatar

1066 would be a base for our western culture, and pretty much begins where we start to have a good amount of documentation.

There really weren’t any “global” events prior to the last century that would be conducive to a worldwide calendar reset, except maybe the eruption of Krakatoa. It had worldwide implications, although most people didn’t know what happened except they got lots of pretty sunsets.

LostInParadise's avatar

I would date year 0 to be somewhere during the time of ancient Greece. According to the book Uncommon Sense, what the Greeks did was unique and set in motion Western culture. It was the Greeks who first suggested that the Universe works according to natural law rather than the actions of gods. It would of course be an exaggeration to say that the Greeks invented thinking, but not by all that much.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I would go with January 1 1970, which is the day that the Unix (Linux) calendar began keeping time.

Keep_on_running's avatar

The turning of the new millennium – year 2000. It’s a nice even number, a fresh start. A time that reflects the beginning of a modern and technological society. It symbolizes an acceptance and letting go of past beliefs.

wundayatta's avatar

The Big Bang.

6rant6's avatar

I dunno. I kind of prefer working with small numbers, so I’d pick something recent. Maybe the founding of the UN in 1945, the release of Apple computer in 1976, or 1998 and the first implantation of an RFID in a human being, or 2003 and the completion of the human genome decoding. Of these only the UN charter has a hard date that everyone would agree on, so maybe it’s the thing.

ragingloli's avatar

My birthday. About 4 years before the Big Bang.

fundevogel's avatar

I’m with @Jeruba & @jerv. I don’t know the exact date, but if my ancient history serves that would place the beginning of the countdown at least a thousand years earlier with the establishment of written records in Sumer. Of course no one knew about Sumer until the mid 19th century so even with such an old start date we would still have relatively recent implementation.

For what it’s worth I doubt the confusion that would be caused by resetting global time would be worth it.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’d say that we estimate when the concept of “zero” was first introduced in counting and mathematics, and start from there.

Nullo's avatar

Religious events and secular events happen in the same world, you know.

LostInParadise's avatar

@CWOTUS , Zero and negative numbers were created by the Hindus in northern India around 650 CE. I believe that the immediate motive was to facilitate accounting. It is easy to see how having zero and negatives would make it easy to combine red ink and black ink values.

rebbel's avatar

It has to be in the past? Edit: If I had read the details I wouldn’t have asked that…
2525

flutherother's avatar

1982, the year the Internet was born.

HungryGuy's avatar

I second the vote on the start of the Linux calendar :-)

Charles's avatar

Sort of related question….Does anyone know what people used to mark the years before Christ? So, in 150 BC, what year did they think it was?
Also, when is year zero in non Christian cultures (Chinese for example)?

zenvelo's avatar

@Charles In Roman territories they based it on the founding of the Republic of Rome in 509 BC., and also by who was Pontifex Maximus or who was Consul.

Nullo's avatar

@Charles The Bible counts years by rulers – e.g. “In the third year of the reign of King David,” and such on a lunar calendar, rather like @zenvelo‘s example. It’s a safe bet that most people did.
I think that the current system, with the Anno Domini, is the same idea: this would be the thirtieth day of the first month of the 2,012th year of the reign of Jesus Christ, King of kings.

poisonedantidote's avatar

The launch of the internet gets my vote.

We are still a fairly primitive species, so I argue that we start over with the internet launch date being year 0. Not so long ago most of us were still heating our houses by lighting fires in a hole in the side of the house and doing all kinds of other primitive things.

raven860's avatar

The year I was born.

mattbrowne's avatar

December 10, 1948.

It needs to be something universal.

Nullo's avatar

@mattbrowne Not everybody recognizes U.N. authority.

flutherother's avatar

@Nullo Ah, but they should!

Nullo's avatar

@flutherother Should they, though? Even if it means squashing your own government?

ragingloli's avatar

Iran and North Korea don’t. And they shouldn’t, right? Right?

flutherother's avatar

The UN is by no means perfect but it would be a far better world if all countries respected its decisions.

Nullo's avatar

@ragingloli By all means, reductio that ad hitlerum.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Nullo – Yes, but a majority does. So it is still relevant.

Not everybody recognizes the Second Amendment. But a majority does. So it is still relevant.

This is how democracy works.

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