>What was the most important date in history?

>The Economist and Intelligent Life magazines recently discussed this topic and came up with:
1) 1439: Gutenberg’s invention of printing
2) 5BC: Believed to be the date of Jesus’s birth
3) 1953: The discovery of DNA

Do you agree?

16 comments

  • >Um… well as much as I think the date important it's also fairly insignificant in the long run. We'll win many more times over in the next century.So I say 3200BC and the invention of writing in Mesopotamia . It trumps the invention of printing for two reasons; firstly printing requires writing; and secondly Gutenberg's invention heavily rested on eastern inventions such as the chinese invention of paper, block printing and movable type printing.

  • >I would argue that you cant have a religious event as an important date – certainly not in the top three – because the importance people place on the event will depend on the religion of that particular person. For example the (approx.) 2/3 of the world's population who arent christian will not place as much importance on the life of Christ. It also depends about if we are talking about things which have directly influenced us and our generation. For example I would argue that the birth and (perhaps more importantly) death of Stalin and/or Lenin would be crucial event for many people who have lived in the past century or so. Even if the people werent directly influenced by the occupation and subjugation of their regimes, the fact that their regimes significantly aided firstly in the end of the Second World War and the destruction of Nazism and secondly that their subsequent isolation created a worldwide Cold War for the following 45 years shows how globally important these two men were. However for people born before this time it was of absolutely no importance and relevance for them.I have now come to the point where you expect an answer for what I think is the most important date. Well I am sorry to dissappoint you all but I cant think of a 'perfect' one. Perhaps Newton and the apple discovering gravity, perhaps Archimedes and his bathwater, perhaps the ability for the prevention of nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. For some people it may be the abolition of slavery. It may be simply the first war between man – because war has played so big a part in our history throughout the centuries and millenia.Anyway, that is all i have to say.

  • >Personally I wouldn't hold Jesus's birth to be one of the most important dates in history. However I disagree with your reasoning. You say that it is only important to Christians. Is not writing and printing only significant to the literate? The thing that made printing so important was that among those who could vote everyone belonged to the group of people who could read.I don't think it's possible to disagree with your point about importance depending on how it's judged or who judges it. But with my judging things I would say that earlier dates are more important. For example Stalin could not have done what he did without Lenin. Lenin could not have done what he did without the ideas about how to fight the rampant divisions in society. It may be that Jesus's birth was important because Lenin was in fact indirectly related, or influenced by his teachings. Basically the roots give life to the entire tree, but if one branch is lopped off the tree will still survive, even if it is changed in form. Hence why I favour the 3200BC date. It is the earliest significant date that I know of and one that we all know vastly impacted almost all we have achieved as a species.

  • >I Am suprised That no one has said Monday, August 6, 1945. Although i cannot pick one single date that is most important.

  • >The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were hugely influential in the war, and to the post war world. Japan would be a completely different place had those bombs not been dropped. The war would have continued for years after. And the world would not have gotten such an anti-nuclear bomb culture so early. Hence the bombs may instead have been used in the Cold War.But I don't think that this date was most significant. Firstly, it would be incredibly sad to believe that the most significant thing mankind has accomplished is the murder of 220,000 people. Secondly because we are still experiencing the effects of that day and we have yet to have a complete benefit of hindsight. Thirdly, because without writing the nuclear bomb would never have been possible. Writing helped us build civilisations. Without writing how long would civilisations of our size truly last? And lastly because Germany in fact had the technology to make a nuclear bomb prior to this date. It is through the benevolence of a scientist that we managed to avoid letting nuclear technology falling into Hitler's hands. I therefore think that had the USA not developed and used a nuclear bomb, someone else would have. The technology and capability already existed by that day.Essentially, the absence of writing would change the world to a much greater extent than the absence of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

  • >I read something from either warren buffet's book or numerology (one of my flatmates books).It goes like this;two guys were sitting on the side of the road and a car passes by with the number plate JY 7725. One guy is incredulous and says to his friend "what are the chances of JY 7725 being the exact number of the licence plate on the car that just passed us. Incredible!"To claim an historic date to be the most important in shaping our world is to assume that no other events would have given us just as good an outcome. It's not quite circular logic but something close. It is to assume that what is now, is the best possible outcome that could have occurred.The invention of writing in 3200BC? What if that hadn't happened? Cultures with oral traditions like the moari culture, aboriginal, native american, et al, existed much happier without writing than they currently do as last-place getters in the 'educated' world. Not to be cunt sucking PC but is this not cultural imperialism/arrogance?Secondly, writing i guess is seen as beneficial because of its ability to desseminate knowledge, but it also dessiminates propaganda.Without writing maybe we all would have been forced a little more to use posteriori or A proiri to find out things for ourselves instead of accepting what we've been told.Second, how the hell did the discovery of DNA make it? Name one benefit to humanity that DNA has so far provided (excepting criminal prosecutions) ? Maybe in the future it will cure cancer etc, but its done bugger all for anybody at this point in time. It's like naming freddie flintoff a great cricket player based on 1 ashes victory.Finally, I agree with the first poster in proposing one's own birthday. The world will turn out however it turns out, the only important thing is that you are around to experience it.

  • >p.s. the above post was by me, Sean.p.p.s. thanks for putting the new options in as i'm happy to post, but don't like to have to start new accounts etc,.

  • >whoops, forgive my lack of knowledge of english victories ( i should know them as there were only about 2). i thought Ashely was quoting her birthday.

  • >Firstly, lol on the fact you thought the English world cup victory was a birthday. Secondly Ash is a man. Haha.Anyway, to the response. I don't consider the question to require an assumption that what we have today is the best possible outcome of history. The importance of a factor can be decided for many reasons. For me the importance of writing is that it made a significant contribution to the world we live in today. This does not mean I think today's world is better than any theoretical alternative; it just means that writing has played a huge causal role in leading humanity to this point in it's history. Hence the view is not cultural imperialism or arrogance.Secondly, yes writing can do a great many things including spreading knowledge, changing people's opinions, lying to people, starting and ending conflicts, crushing or giving hope to people's lives. But as I said in the previous paragraph writing did not necessarily create the best possible world; what it did do was help create ours. Although I tend to think on the whole writing has been a positive sum invention anyway. It can be used in a bad way. But can't you use anything as a weapon? Most writers have aimed to help not hinder. I realise this is a subjective opinion. But I think most people would agree, and in response to your idea about the lack of writing causing more independent thinking, if you continue to read and write then you will come accross contradictions and are in fact encouraged to question and work things out for yourselves, simply in an educated manner.As for the discovery of DNA I think it was a fantastic discovery but like you I don't think it's been given the time to allow us to judge its true impact. Therefore I agree that it should not have been among the top three.P.S. For those who don't know what A Priori and Posteriori are (used in comment 7) they are used in philosophy to refer to two different arguments. A Priori is a presumptive view i.e. it is given without evidence usually based on the idea that the view is self-evident. Posteriori on the other hand is derived by reasoning from observed facts.

  • >By me choosing the English victory was just pointing out that any date can be significant for any number of reasons. To and Enlish football fan not thinking about anything but football. That is probably the most imprtant date in History. 22 May 1986 is pretty significant in mine as being the day i was born pretty much defines my life, without being born, my life is null and therefore without that date, im not here to comment.If you take me out of the world there is a possibility that this website would not exist, it might still exist but in another form as you might have someone else that could have effectively replaced me. But in terms of this website our birthdays are significant as without them this post, this discussion would not exist.So the most important date in history (which would have to be an estimate) would have to be the creation of Earth. Without it none of this exists.

  • >Basically importance depends on what you are measuring it against. Yes I agree. I would have put the creation of the Earth or some earlier date if I knew it.Isn't it funny that everyone agrees questions about importance are in many ways quite silly due to their overt subjectiveness and yet these questions appear in every educational program on Earth? Perhaps the question should have been 'What was the most important date in human history in contributing to the state of affairs today?' However I seriously doubt that would have gotten as many replies.

  • >First, apologies for referring to Ash as 'her'. i do remember thinking the name is commonly used by both but the object pronoun slipped in somehow.Second, that four letter word i used looks rather blunt in the light of day.That makes about 3 apologies in 3 posts for me. gee, i think thats a record.Now, to Rob's points.Yep, i take your point, although 'important' is a bit general. 'influential' would have been a more appropriate term i think.given that, the most influential date in my opinion?hhhmmm… (i'm no great whack at history) In no particular order….1. The Medici's introducing (purportedly) banking into the world (at the time, a sin, and called usury). The allocation of 'credit' is still at the core of our financial system and allowed for home ownership which was one of the major drivers of the 20th century U.S. economy, ergo superpower status, ergo everything else.2. Democracy. hard pressed to pinpoint an exact date as this is a concept like credit, but given to the greeks at some point. Happy to say NZ perfected it first, 1903.This has allowed the rationale to invade other countries in order to convert them, just like religion used to in the goold old days. haha. but seriously, despite this being a western parliamentary system, the idea of one person one voice denotes the value of an individuals rights of expression within a community, whether tribal or otherwise.3. The english language. Britains greatest ever export. Has been one of the major pillars in globalisation and the quick exchange of ideas. Any other language may have done just as well, but what is important is that there was an accepted dominant language.Well, there's my 2 cents. Do you have the link to the list in its entirety?

  • >Bloody hell mate! Fine next time I want to post a question I think I'll ring and ask you first to check if it's worded exactly correctly! But fair enough importance is an ambiguous term. For debating though it does allow greater interpretation of the question and therefore more answers.I think banking has as you say contributed in enormous measures to the societies we have today. But the Medici were not the first. The first banks were effectively temples storing things on people's behalves. The first time credit was reportedly used was in Ancient Greece, where a moneylender could write credit notes in one city and allow clients to "cash" in another city, saving the client the danger of carrying coinage on his journey. And if you're talking about banking as an economic driver then yes in modern times it has acted as such. But before the industrial revolution GDP growth throughout most of human history was relatively flat. Yet by the time of the late 18th century banks were well founded. So it was not banks that allowed the economic boom of the last few centuries. It was technology.As for the point about democracy the date usually used is 508BC in Athens. But neither as you rightly point out was this a real democracy, nor should it really be emphasized so much. The exact date is likely to be only a rough estimation, and besides small groups of people like tribes have been using a democractic and even communist approaches to governing themselves since the dawn of human civilisation. As for New Zealand I don't want to correct a New Zealander but wasn't it 1893 not 1903? And it wasn't truly universal by today's standards anyway because women couldn't stand as candidates until 1919. Norway was the first to allow universal suffrage and women candidates in 1913. But on principle I do agree that the idea of democracy has been extremely influential throughout all of human history and indeed will continue to be into the future (Quatar is expected to complete the step towards universal suffrage soon).Lastly the English language. It is my hope that there will be one accepted language that all people around the world are able to learn as a second language one day. As you say the spread of certain European languages have already emphasized the benefits this could bring.As for the link; if you mean to the list of dates mentioned in the Economist sorry I can't find it.

  • >Is it right to put our own ‘higher pleasures/happiness’ before other’s who are more desperate?We all buy extravagancies we don’t need, from wii’s and x-box’s to cars and widescreen t.v’s. Yet we also all know that there are people suffering and dying in the world who don’t have the basic requirements (food, water etc). I always wonder how people can live their lives the way they do and still believe that they are good people when they know this, and could give up what I will call their ‘higher pleasures’, to help others more desperate.At the moment my personal answer is that those of us who believe they are largely good are either stupid or ignorant. Of course we do the occasional ‘good’ things, however none of you (us) will do something as trivial as buying one less bottle of vodka for a party, or one less dvd, and instead give that money to charity (even if it means saving the life of someone wev’e never met for food or water).It can also be said though, that as individuals we can only feel our own happiness/sadness etc – which makes it more potent. For instance you can hear on the news that 5000 people have died – and when asked if they would trade their own lives, most people would say no (add source).

  • >I'm not sure that's entirely true. Yes people are selfish. But many people pride themselves on being good, identify with an image of a good person and the actions that go with that good person, and also find pleasure from taking 'the right decision'.The problem with the vodka and dvd analogy is that we don't know for certain that if we give that money to charity instead, then one less person will die. If every person who walked into a dvd/drinks shop saw a suffering person that they would be able to save if they didn't buy a dvd/drink I'm pretty sure the sales would plummet.

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