As the proclaimed war on Christmas takes center stage at this time each year, scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson takes to the front lines with a series of tweets meant to upset Christians.
"On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642," Tyson wrote on his Twitter page. The message was retweeted over 15,000 times in less than an hour and currently stands at almost 60,000 retweets a day later.
Tyson followed up his trolling with another note meant to fan the flames: "Merry Christmas to all. A Pagan holiday (BC) becomes a Religious holiday (AD). Which then becomes a Shopping holiday (USA)."
Neil deGrasse Tyson is the current director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City. The 56-year-old astrophysicist is well-known for his stance against those who believe in creationism, and is notorious for speaking out against the Christian faith.
In his essays "The Perimeter of Ignorance" and "Holy Wars," Tyson expresses his belief that any scientists who are guided by intelligent design are limiting the advance of their scientific knowledge.
"I remain unconvinced by any claims anyone has ever made about the existence or the power of a divine force operating in the universe," he famously said in a 2014 interview with philosopher Massimo Pigliucci.
So it's certainly no surprise that Tyson's series of tweets would be meant to bother Christians, but one can't help but wonder if he would try the same anti-religious stance with the Muslim or Jewish community on their holiest of holy days.
Ironically, there are also a few loopholes in Tyson's jab. First off, it's not know if Sir Isaac Newton was actually born on December 25 because the use of the Gregorian and Julian calendars were interchanged quite often in England and the rest of Europe during that time. And the designation of December 25th as Jesus' birthday was created by the Romans in the fourth century to set a celebration date, but most Christians realize that no where in the Bible does it name an actual day, month, or time.
And lastly, Sir Newton was a devout Christian who spent most of his later days studying theology and philosophical application to science. His focus was on literal and symbolic interpretations of the Bible and its chronology, especially 1 John 5:7, as documented in works left unpublished until long after his death.
So while Tyson certainly stirred up a whirlwind of both support and condemnation from his comments, the facts remain misguided. In fact, Tyson is no stranger to misguided information meant to stir up controversy.
"This is disrespectful to Christians. Jesus created the science you cherish so much," Twitter user @brianfagioli countered. "Everyone finds God eventually, you will too."