SCIENCE

Neil deGrasse Tyson's Provocative Tweets About Christmas Started An Internet Flame War

Neil deGrasse Tyson undoubtedly hopes you and your family are having a wonderful holiday season. Nevertheless, a series of tweets sent by the astrophysicist on Christmas have incensed some, as he provocatively questioned both the significance of the holiday -- and the reason we celebrate it.

Tyson kicked off the tweets by posing this cheeky question to his nearly 2.9 million followers:

Tyson followed up the rhetorical question by wishing a happy birthday to a significant figure who was born on Christmas:

Before pausing to reflect on the history of the day:

Finally, Tyson ended with a Rudolf-themed physics lesson:

The messages drew a strong response across the Internet, with incensed commenters referring to the physicist as "a bigoted hack" and a "satanic shrill," among other names.

On Friday, apparently in response to the strong reactions his statements drew a day earlier, Tyson again took to Twitter, this time to ponder, "Imagine a world in which we are all enlightened by objective truths rather than offended by them."

Tyson has since posted a lengthier response on his Facebook page, in which he explains the calendar calculations behind his birthday wish for Isaac Newton, and distances himself from calls he's anti-Christian. "If a person actually wanted to express anti-Christian sentiment," he writes, "my guess is that alerting people of Isaac Newton's birthday would appear nowhere on the list."

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