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View Full Version : Without Christianity's influence, what would the western calander system look like today?


hotflungwok
11-09-2009, 03:25 PM
I'm pretty sure this doesn't have a straight factual answer, so in GD it goes.

It is currently the year 2009 Anno_Domini (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Domini). Suppose that Christianity never caught on, and ended up like Mithraism and other cults. Dionysius Exiguus never did his thing, no BC/AD, no Gregorian calender, etc. What year would it be?

Would we have stayed on the Julian calender? Would it currently be the 1st year of the reign of Obama I? Would someone else have come along to reform the calender, without D.E.'s reasons? Would they have made another fairly arbitrarily old system/new system starting point? Were there any other serious contenders for the calender system at the time, or since, that might have been used?

Chronos
11-09-2009, 04:33 PM
To be able to get any use out of a calendar, you need a continual count: Calling this the first year of the reign of Obama I doesn't tell you anything about how long ago the eighth year of Bush II was. I imagine that if we weren't using the (purported) birth of Jesus as our reference point, we'd go back to the Roman AUC dating, which counts from the founding of the city of Rome.

Simplicio
11-09-2009, 04:49 PM
Similarily, I'm fairly certain we would've switched from Julian to Gregorian at some point (though, presumably it wouldn't be called "Gregorian" anymore). Even without Catholicism, presumably at some point, there would've been some institution around with enough people calculating dates to realize that the seasons were slipping relative to the calander. Granted, they may have dispersed "leap days" in a slightly different fashion then Pope Gregory's astronomers did, so the alternate universe Gregorian calendar might not line up exactly with the real one over some periods.

Ruminator
11-09-2009, 05:00 PM
I imagine that if we weren't using the (purported) birth of Jesus as our reference point, we'd go back to the Roman AUC dating, which counts from the founding of the city of Rome.

I wonder what combination of events would push the globe to switch to another system such as stardate 9501.2 like Star Trek?

Maybe if we come into contact with extra-terrestrial aliens and our only common reference point would be a particular supernova that exploded 100,000 years ago? Or time markings across space wouldn't make sense because of Relativity if the aliens come from another galaxy?

Chronos
11-09-2009, 06:22 PM
I don't see why contact with extraterrestrials would mean we'd have to use the same calendar. We'd go on using ours and they'd go on using theirs, and the folks who deal with the others would know how to convert between the two (or at least, have computer software to do the conversions for them).

begbert2
11-09-2009, 07:30 PM
I don't see why contact with extraterrestrials would mean we'd have to use the same calendar. We'd go on using ours and they'd go on using theirs, and the folks who deal with the others would know how to convert between the two (or at least, have computer software to do the conversions for them).Depends on whether they let us keep on using the same calendar.

Fake Tales of San Francisco
11-09-2009, 09:08 PM
Wouldn't you first have to answer what the western world would look like without Christianity's influence? I don't think the USA would exist as we know it if that happened. And presumably if you wipe out Christianity, Islam goes too. Aren't there way too many variables here to make any kind of educated guess? Completely different people might have been in a position of power in the past to make their preferred calendar system universal in the western world.

dropzone
11-09-2009, 09:30 PM
We'd still have the names of the days of the week. And the months. The number of days is fairly fixed, and someone would have to add corrections anyway so we weren't honoring Ceres in the middle of January. For the calendar Christianity had little to do with it.

Shakester
11-09-2009, 10:21 PM
We'd still have the names of the days of the week.

OK, Sun Day and Moon Day I'll grant you, and possibly Saturn's Day, but is there any reason to believe that we'd be using Tiw's Day, Wotan's Day, Thor's Day, or Freyja's Day?

If we were sticking with the Greek-derived Roman day names, Tuesday would be Mars Day, Wednesday = Mercury Day, Thursday = Jupiter Day, Friday = Venus Day. Or whatever we'd corrupted those names into by now.

There's no reason to believe that the Norse invasion of England would have resulted in the same day names if Christianity hadn't happened. Maybe we'd be using ALL Norse names. Maybe we'd be using none. Would English have even developed? Who knows, maybe we'd be Hindus or Buddhists and we'd be typing some kind of bastardised Sanskrit right now.

tomndebb
11-10-2009, 01:24 PM
Given the practicality of a single timeline calendar, I would think that it would have come into existence at some point. The Romans already had a potential dating system in A.U.C., (ab urbe condita, from the founding of the city), and although it was not in general use, it was known to scholars, so that it was that on which Dionysius Exiguus based his own error. Even Denny the Short's reckoning did not become universal for a few hundred years, although, again, it was known to scholars so that when society decided to move away from the "in the nth year of the reign of So-and-so"), there was a system available. I would think that the when that occurred, if there was no Christian system in place, Europe would have simply employed A.U.C.)

Alternatively, without a strong Christian presence in Europe, Europe might now be using the Muslim reckoning. However, I suspect that that would not have happened, due to the lunar nature of the Hijiri calendar that causes a 12 day shift away from the solar calendar each year. While the Hijiri calendar is used for religious dates, most Muslim countries continued to use separate solar calendars for agriculture and business, particularly a pre-Islamic Persian calendar in the East and various versions of the Julian calendar inherited from the Byzantine Empire in the West.

Little Nemo
11-10-2009, 01:45 PM
We wouldn't call it the Gregorian calendar but we'd use it anyway. Pope Gregory didn't invent the length of the year he just described it. So if he hadn't been the one to do it, someone else would have done it at some point as astronomical science progressed. This is the reason non-Catholic societies have adopted the Gregorian calendar despite not recognizing Papal authority.

And I agree that in the absense of the Anno Domini system, we'd probably still be using the Anno Urbis Conditae system. The foundation of Rome was a major central secular event in western society.

On the negative side, we would have reached the year 2012 over seven hundred years ago - long before we had met any Mayans. So the world would have ended without us knowing.

Chronos
11-10-2009, 05:41 PM
OK, Sun Day and Moon Day I'll grant you, and possibly Saturn's Day, but is there any reason to believe that we'd be using Tiw's Day, Wotan's Day, Thor's Day, or Freyja's Day?

If we were sticking with the Greek-derived Roman day names, Tuesday would be Mars Day, Wednesday = Mercury Day, Thursday = Jupiter Day, Friday = Venus Day. Or whatever we'd corrupted those names into by now. Ever study French? The French weekdays are named Lundi, Mardi, Mercredi, Jeudi, Vendredi. Look familiar?

GIGObuster
11-11-2009, 05:17 AM
Ever study French? The French weekdays are named Lundi, Mardi, Mercredi, Jeudi, Vendredi. Look familiar?

In Spanish: Lunes, Martes, Miércoles, Jueves, Viernes.

It's amusing to see many double takes when Marvel comics fans remind us that yes, every Thursday is Thor's Day (http://aquamanrules.blogspot.com/2009/10/thank-gods-tis-thors-day-journey-into.html). Some people forget or don't know the origins of the names of the week.

LouisB
11-11-2009, 11:00 PM
Maybe we'd use the Mayan calendar up until whatever day is supposed to be the last. Then we could switch to the "Oops" calendar.

Monty
11-12-2009, 12:04 AM
To be able to get any use out of a calendar, you need a continual count: Calling this the first year of the reign of Obama I doesn't tell you anything about how long ago the eighth year of Bush II was. I imagine that if we weren't using the (purported) birth of Jesus as our reference point, we'd go back to the Roman AUC dating, which counts from the founding of the city of Rome.

Japan's still using a Reign Name system for their calendar. Doesn't seem to bother them all that much.

Sampiro
11-12-2009, 12:15 AM
Ever study French? The French weekdays are named Lundi, Mardi, Mercredi, Jeudi, Vendredi. Look familiar?

Though during the Revolution they got rid of anything named after a god or a king and they reset the year.
(French Republican Calender (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Republican_Calendar))

This was posted on Année de la République 218, Mois de Brumaire, Decade III, Jour de Primidi. (See how much easier it is without gods?)

dropzone
11-12-2009, 03:55 PM
There's no reason to believe that the Norse invasion of England would have resulted in the same day names if Christianity hadn't happened. :confused: Why not? Rome didn't leave Britain because of Christianity. Would English have even developed? Again, why not? It's a stew of the languages of everybody who invaded Britain, and for a while nearly EVERYBODY invaded Britain. Who knows, maybe we'd be Hindus or Buddhists and we'd be typing some kind of bastardised Sanskrit right now.I don't know how to break this to you. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_languages) ;)