The Day 0 Problem

The problem of 0-based vs 1-based indexing bedeviled even the early Christians. According to the myth, Jesus died on a Friday, spent Saturday in a tomb and came back to life again on Sunday.

Looked at with traditional 1-based think, Friday was day 1 and Sunday was day 3. Jesus came back to life on the third day, so he was dead for 3 days. In other words he spent some time being dead on three different days.

Looked at with modern 0-based think, Friday is day 0 and Sunday is day 2. Subtracting 2-0, Jesus was dead for 2 days.

Looked from the point of view of a child, Jesus was dead for 2 sleeps, Friday night and Saturday night, which jibes with 0-based thinking.

I drove my father crazy with the following ambiguity:
me: How long is it until Christmas?
Dad: Two days.
me: Is that counting today? Is that counting Christmas?
Dad: Don’t think about it that way. You will just get confused. Just think 2 sleeps instead of 2 days.
me: Ok, but what is it really? There are four possible ways of doing it. They could not counted either, counted both, counted just the starting day or counted just the ending day. Which one did they pick?
Dad: a huff of exasperation (very uncharacteristic for my Dad. That it why I remembered the event all these years.) Nobody but you thinks about it that way.
[Dad might have said This year Christmas falls on a Friday. On Christmas Friday it is 0 days till Christmas. On Thursday it is 1 day till Christmas. On Wednesday it is 2 days. Work it out. Think about sleeps. You count the starting day sleep, the intermediate day sleeps, but not the last day sleep because you don’t care about the sleep Christmas night. This way of thinking does not work for 0 though. When you get older and learn division, you can count the hours till you open your presents and divide that by 24 to get the days to wait. When you get really old you will write a computer program to compute when holidays fall in any given year. That’s how we knew Christmas was on a Friday in 1953.]
me: Hmmm… Mr. Emerson told us at school (Malvern house private school first grade, or form A as they called it) that Jesus was dead for 3 days which according to you means 3 sleeps. So that means he came alive again on Monday, right? with sleeps on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, right? But Mr. Emerson insisted that Jesus came alive again on Sunday. I asked him about his mistake but he said there was absolutely no question about it. He assured me that there is nobody who thinks Jesus came alive again on Monday. How could everyone fail to notice the mistake? If Jesus came alive again on Sunday, then why is Monday the holiday? Besides, dead things rot. They don’t come back to life. I think they made this whole thing up. Nothing to do with Jesus makes any sense and everyone pretends it does!

~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:70)