A new Calendar
I suggest 1809 should now be year 0 and henceforth we move into a calendar based on that. Year 1 is AD 1810 and so we are living in AD 207
Surely in this age of science and enlightenment it is time to move on?
The world has largely progressed out of the age of superstition and has emerged into a new understanding of life and the universe. When someone asked AJP Taylor, the famous historian, when it was that we emerged out of the Dark Ages, his reply was that we had not done so yet. When someone asked Ghandi what he thought of civilisation he replied that it would be a good idea. I take a more optimistic view; I think we are at the start of a new era. It is the era of science and enlightenment.
I have hopes for it. I believe it will augur a new age of tolerance. We are at the threshold of an age of discovery and wonder – the age of science.
Once the genie is out of the bottle it cannot be put back. There is an inexorable flood.
Every culture has its creation myths and religious stories which are being shown to be the products of fertile human imagination – nothing more.
We have moved into an age where we are no longer willing to believe the fantastic without evidence. Science has affected our gullibility.
Science is evidence based. The results are all around us. They have transformed the world. If something cannot be seen, measured and replicated then it is no longer believed.
Science is the melding of imagination, creativity, thought, observation and recording. It has heralded a new age of wonder, awe and incredibility.
We have learnt more in this last single year than in the whole prescience history of the world. Yet what we know is still only touching the surface.
This is still the beginning. We are only just beginning to slowly shuffle out of the Dark Ages and there are many forces struggling to throw us back.
To signify this move forward into the light of a new era I suggest we adopt a new calendar. Not a calendar based on some erstwhile religious prophet, such as Jesus or Mohamed, but one based on a scientist of note; one of the many who have risked all to take us forward; someone instrumental in dispelling the myths and shedding light on reality.
There are many courageous people to choose from. We could go back to the likes of Copernicus, Galileo or Da Vinci, who risked grizzly death at the wrath of the church for daring to challenge the myths and investigate the truth. We could go back to the ancient Chinese or to the pre-Islamic scientists who invented agriculture, maths, the alphabet and astronomy. Here were the rudiments of science. There are hundreds to choose from.
We could go to the geniuses who arose after the enlightenment who laid the groundwork for the amazing technology of today – people like Newton, Currie or Einstein – or even Hawkin? We could choose Watson, Crick and Franklin.
II even toyed with Richard Dawkins. I felt he would be a suitable candidate. Whoever it turned out to be had to be a symbol for all the brave pioneers that had gone before, someone who symbolised this move into an age of reason.
For me there is only one candidate – the man who by revealing the whole sequence of evolution demolished all those millennia of myth. Charles Darwin started a ball rolling that has not stopped. It clearly shows that we are not divine creatures created by a god but flawed animals little different from our closest relatives – the chimps, gibbons, orangutans and gorillas. DNA has taken it a step further. The ball is still in motion. The new age is unfolding before us. It has brought the electric light, cars, flight, space travel and all the machines and technology we have become used to.
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, along with genetics, fired the magic bullet into the overinflated balloon of organised religion. For me it meant that the claims for Jesus, Mohamed, Shiva, Jehovah or Zeus are all exposed as primitive superstition.
Science has not yet discovered all the answers and probably never will. Perhaps there is an underlying spirituality? The machinery of the universe is extraordinary and more mysterious with every new discovery but it is a million miles away from the simplicity of religion and our primitive concept of god. We are not the centre of any universe and of no great significance. To suggest the universe was created for us is laughable – an egotistical nonsense. We have quarks, string theory, quantum physics, black holes, quasars, the human mind, artificial intelligence and a universe that is a whole lot more complicated and wondrous than anything in a religious text, more extraordinary than any religious leader could imagine.
I suggest we take the year of Darwin’s birth as the beginning of our new calendar.
I hope 210 After Darwin – 211 AD – is a good year for you!