Wrong. First of all, the term ‘Common Era’ does not mean ‘this era is common to all people’, it refers to a common reference point. What is the common reference point? The calendar itself. The calendar, with the Christian slant that is built into it, is what’s common to everyone who uses it. The year 1 CE is when this common reference is dated to. Nothing wrong with that (it’s off by four or five years, but so is BC/AD). And the fact is that everyone does use this system, at least when they refer to history or to international affairs. They may use it simultaneously with their own calendars, but they use it. If they didn’t use it, they wouldn’t be referring to it at all, would they?

Chancel’s other conclusions are even more wrong. Let's review the reasons for the use of the terms CE and BCE, shall we? Then we can decide if they are ‘inaccurate’ or ‘offensive’ or, perhaps, just plain practical terms.

A - the Gregorian calendar is here to stay. It is by far the most widely accepted dating system today, and will remain so until there is a major shift in Earth culture. I say 'Earth culture' precisely because the next event I can foresee that would make us change our dating system would be a First Contact scenario or a global cataclysm.

B - while there are other calendars in use around the world, there are none that are easily translated. The Jewish calendar supposedly dates back to the creation of the world 5762 years ago. Can you say "arbitrarily determined date which has no meaning whatsoever in modern life, and no relevance at all for atheists, Hindus, and paleontologists?"

C - any calendar you could conceive of using is going to be arbitrarily determined in some way. To you, the arbitrator, the system will be logical and obvious. To others, it will be an imposition. If you're going to impose your dating system on the rest of the world, you'd better be ready to accept the fact that this is going to seem a little arrogant.

D - that said, you don't have to go out of your way to be insulting. It isn't really necessary to constantly remind people that they live in what you think is the Year Of Your Lord 2002. How anybody could think that ‘Anno Domini’ is less offensive than ‘Common Era’ is a mystery to me.

CONCLUSION: Given the existence of a globally interconnected society, a substitute for the BC/AD notation must be found. It must be consistent with the dating system used by most of the world (the Gregorian calendar). It should not refer to any specific creation belief, and most certainly it should not require that every person on Earth make daily reference to one puny little god as their Lord (a statement which actually violates the commandments of Judaism and Islam - it is a sin for these people to refer to Christ as their Lord. See the Ten Commandments for further detail).

In my opinion, CE and BCE are very good substitute terms which fit all the above criteria. Even though CE can be 'translated' as ‘Christian Era’, I can accept that. If anybody has a better suggestion, I'd like to hear it. Anno Domini is NOT a better suggestion, and Stardates may satisfy the geek in me, but they are hardly a realistic substitute.

A final note - most people around here seem to be of the opinion that CE and BCE were recently invented by the forces of Political Correctness. They weren’t. They have been in common use amongst non-Christians for quite some time - I first encountered this terminology in Israel in 1984 CE - ah, I mean the year 5745. By then it was firmly entrenched in the English translations of textbooks and in all museum references. Although it’s hard to verify, I would suspect it has been around for at least a hundred years in various languages, but is only now beginning to be popularized in English-speaking, predominantly Christian societies.

By the way, the original Hebrew version of CE is “L’Sphirat Hanotzrim” - literally, “In the Christian Counting”. BCE is “Lifnei Sphirat Hanotzrim” - you guessed it, “Before the Christian Counting”. And nobody minds. None of this prevents the Israeli government from using Hebrew dates on all official documents, but the Gregorian system is much more common in real-life usage.