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: QUESTION: ThIs year, what do all the world’s Muslims and Jews call December 25th? ANSWER: Thursday December 25, 2014 Tyson followed up the rhetorical question by wishing a happy birthday to a significant figure who was born on Christmas: 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 December…

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