The Christmas Asshole, Neil DeGrasse Tyson

“Merry Christmas to the world’s 2.5 billion Christians. And to the remaining 5 billion people, including Muslims Atheists Hindus Buddhists Animists & Jews, Happy Monday.”

What would justify a public figure tweeting that kind of arrogant, hostile, belittling message  at his fellow citizens  on Christmas Eve?


This was one of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweets yesterday. I’m sure the nation’s most prominent and least deserving pop intellectual assumed that his many Twitter followers who hang on every word of revealed wisdom he utters  would appreciate his giving Christmas the metaphorical back of his hand, which only means this asshole has a lot of asshole followers.

Why do this? It is not as if there is any delusion among Christmas revelers that “billions” of others in the world do not have the pleasure of celebrating the world’s most inclusive and ethical cultural holiday. Tyson’s intent was not to inform, it was to diminish, using a version of the Golden Rationalization: “Everybody does it;” in this case, “More people do it, so what you do instead isn’t as great as you think it is.”

Asshole. Tyson doesn’t have to observe Christmas, and he doesn’t have to absorb the wisdom that Scrooge learned so traumatically, he need not acknowledge an annual ritual in which we are all encouraged to embrace love, peace, generosity, ethics, respect, charity, empathy, selflessness and hope for at least a day, opening the possibility that the enlightenment may last longer, and even a lifetime, as it did for Ebeneezer.  If he had any decency or common courtesy, however, he wouldn’t try to spoil the holiday for anyone else not so blighted. As Richard Fernandez wrote yesterday, deftly exposing the flaw in fatuous efforts among  various sad enclaves of progressives more concerned with triggering some offense with a “Merry Christmas!’ than with the health of society itself, it is helpful to understand

“…Christmas as playing a role analogous to the fictional baseball field in the movie Field of Dreams: not a place or day but a reverie. To paraphrase the famous speech to Ray, when people come to Christmas, …”it’ll be as they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. …  It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again.” But Christmas has marked the time. Marked the time because, as C.S. Lewis once adventured,  Christmas is not an idealized memory of childhood but of something glimpsed in childhood.

“These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”

…The effort to erase Christmas will probably fail for no other reason than that it meets a human need that a mechanical bureaucratic day off cannot fulfill. Humanity needs a time to mark the growth and change in the family, an occasion to renew hopes and put aside fears and a chance to remember something we once knew: that everything’s going to be alright in the end. It really will.

Tyson can look down his nose on his fellow Americans who are engaging in an ancient ritual that has accomplished much good and negligible harm through the centuries, but he can do that quietly, or, if noisily, among his fellow anti-Christmas snots. Choosing Christmas Day to broadcast his contempt is gratuitous nastiness, the act of a pompous asshole who relishes being an asshole, by deliberately interfering with the efforts of fellow citizens to be joyful and happy.

Not content with one obnoxious Christmas tweet, Tyson issued a second:

“Famous people actually born on Christmas Day — Gregorian Calendar: Clara Barton, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Buffett, Annie Lennox, Rod Serling, Sissy Spacek, Justin Trudeau; Julian Calendar: Sir Isaac Newton.”

“Actually.” Translation: Remember, you silly fools, this isn’t really the birthday of the fake god you are all making such a fuss over, if he existed at all.

The Tyson fans at the Washington Post made sure the paper published a similar sentiment on Christmas: ! Did historical Jesus really exist? The evidence just doesn’t add up.


Oh: I almost forgot to send kudos Ben Shapiro’s way for his sharp retort to The Christmas Asshole:


61 thoughts on “The Christmas Asshole, Neil DeGrasse Tyson

  1. I didn’t want to belabor the point, or use the a-word a 7th time, but what kind of scientist allows a photo like the one above to be used to promote him? I view that photo as signature significance for a lot of things, none of them good.

  2. Exemplary ASSHOLE Extraordinaire! And not just because of this, his body of consummate assholery speaks for itself.

    American Religious bigots are exceptionally gutless, they single out Christians knowing any retaliation carries no threat.

    Religions other than Christianity & Judaism are a respected part of the cultural fabric of Humanity, with the thinly veiled belief that “they’re deluded too, but worthy of our sympathy.”

    Per Shapiro’s suggestion, I’d LUV for N G-T to engage in his little mocking episode with someone who takes such affronts a little more seriously:

    “Famous people actually born on Christmas Day”

    A famous person that died on Christmas Day? Soul Brother # 1, James Brown, whom I had the rare pleasure of seeing live, passed 11 years ago.

    • Christians on the whole know very well that Jesus wasn’t actually born on Christmas Day. Without the luxury of knowing his actual birthday, however, it’s as good as any other for throwing a party. What a groan-worthy, Big Bang Theory-fan fake-smart tweet.

      • Oh, it’s better than any old date. It was brilliant to pair Jesus’s official birthday with the pre-existing winter solstice around the longest night of the year, hijacking a pagan celebration so thenew holiday would have a ready made group of celebrants. Brilliant!!!

      • Because technically, to be a Doctrinal Pedant, we aren’t celebrating Jesus’ Birthday as a Birthday…we are celebrating and commemorating the Incarnation as an act of God in history. Though clearly Jesus’ “Birthday” and the actual moment of incarnation would be seemingly linked…they are two different things. The birthday doesn’t matter. The Incarnation does.

    • You bring up a very good point. Are religions other than Christianity and Judaism “respected” because we understand the role they play in contributing to the diversity of humanity or do they skate by unscathed because we don’t care enough about them to engage in any meaningful discussion or in-depth examination of other religious beliefs? I think the answer could be both (with a slight lean toward the latter). In order to effectively deliver an asteism about one’s religion, you’d need to conduct enough research and to do so, right? I guess what I’m saying is that the veiled belief that other religions are misguided may not be as thin as we’d like to think. Great comment by the way!

      • You’re forgetting the third option: fear. In an interview with Penn Jillette he was asked if there were any topics he and Teller wanted to cover on their show “Bullshit!” but weren’t able to and one he listed was Islam- he claimed it was short listed but that he wasn’t willing to risk reprisals to himself or his family from people THAT would offend.

        Hassling Christians, in particular, is easy mode. We’ve got a long and well-documented history in Western Civ so it’s easy to find things to dislike, and we’re the religious equivalent of the huge but quiet and well-behaved kid on the playground who the smaller jerks love to pick at- he’s a big, obvious target but almost certainly not the kind of person who will beat them to death with their own shoes.

        • ”In an interview with Penn Jillette he was asked if there were any topics he and Teller wanted to cover on their show ‘Bullshit!’ ”

          What I would have liked to have seen? Warmalista Alarmacysts are reluctant to publicly debate the science (see: Al Gore, Jr., Dr. Michael Mann, etc.) and Jillette is a pretty well-spoken Climate Denier.

          “the huge but quiet and well-behaved kid on the playground who the smaller jerks love to pick at”

          For your viewing pleasure:

          “Poetic Justice! Revenge of the huge but quiet and well-behaved kid.”

          • And a true viewing pleasure it is, now as always! I almost referenced Casey Heynes but wasn’t sure how well people would remember it. I had my own similar moment in school, after my father told me the only way to stop the bullying was to hurt one kid so bad nobody else would want to try…

        • I can concede that other religions may be spared the wave of abuse and scrutiny that Christians undergo due to fear of some form of retaliation, but I think your statement adds to my point about how we see other religions.

          “…he’s a big, obvious target but almost certainly not the kind of person who will beat them to death with their own shoes.”

          I agree that attacks/remarks such as the one slung by NDT are petty and gutless so you’ll receive no argument from me on that. However, I do feel the need to push back on Paul earlier statement.

          “Religions other than Christianity & Judaism are a respected part of the cultural fabric of Humanity, with the thinly veiled belief that they’re deluded too, but worthy of our sympathy.”

          There are numerous reasons why other religions aren’t targeted with as much vim and vigor as Christianity and Judaism. Respect doesn’t seem to be the most likely reason.

          • Christianity is a favored object of scorn in the US and other Western countries because it is the dominant religion in these countries. The majority of our leaders are self-professed Christians; every US president has been. This position of privilege makes it an easy target for mockery and satire, like making fun of a popular jock. Kids who would feel bad making fun of those lower on the social totem pole often snark on the popular kids, even when said jocks are perfectly nice, because they see little harm in doing so.

            That doesn’t make anti-Christian bigotry any less wrong, but it seems like people are reaching for more complicated explanations here when it’s really quite simple. Judaism, Islam, etc. simply aren’t as dominant here, and their minority status means that picking on them isn’t as rewarding for the type of personality that likes to purposefully make themselves seem superior to Christians.

            If Muslim-dominated countries had more robust cultures of free speech, I’d expect a lot of comedians there would be cracking jokes that made fun of Islam. What’s the comedy circuit in Israel like? I expect Jewish jokes absolutely kill there.

            • You make a good point about how an imbalanced population can create the illusion of bias or cause and effect, when the rates are actually statistically similar- my rural high school once got some bad press because we had only one black starter on the varsity football team. Someone finally pointed out that, unlike the more diverse schools we were playing against, that guy was 33% of the black student population for us.

              • Yikes. My high school also had one black player, but we also had only about five black students. Maybe we got let off the hook because we’re majority Hispanic.

                • We were white. BOY were we white. Although we technically had 2 African Americans on the team, one of whom was a white South African. Strangely he and the black guy were best friends, bonding over exchanging their cultures’ worst racial slurs for each other “so I know what to call you when you f*** up”

              • None of which works at all to explain the rapid disappearance of Coptic Christians in primarily Islamic cultures. I think that the percentage of Christians in a culture has a relatively small effect on the impulse to denigrate (or, in the case of the Coptics) persecute them.

            • ”self-professed Christians; every US president has been.”

              I’d list Jefferson as a Deist, and Nixon was a Quaker.

              “If Muslim-dominated countries had more robust cultures of free speech, I’d expect a lot of comedians there would be cracking jokes that made fun of Islam.”


              Know what you call a right-handed Islamic 1st offender?


                • I believe the Quakers are Universalists, believing God will save everyone- some/most consider themselves Christians because they believe in Jesus as Christ, while some do not consider themselves to be Christian because independently of their own faith or lack of faith in Jesus’ divinity, they do not believe that he is the exclusive path to salvation (and therefore are not *TRUE* Christians).

                • Jefferson was a professed Episcopalian and a member of St. Ann’s Parish all his life, actually, but in practice he was more of a deist. Abraham Lincoln actually belonged to no organized church, although he professed to believe in the tenets of Christianity.

                    • I think there is a distinct possibility that Obama was an atheist, who worshipped only himself. I can name at least a half dozen others who didn’t honor the tenets of Christianity well. I’d like to know who the 15 or so chief executives you think were agnostic were, because I think that would be a very interesting discussion.

                    • I say a third because in doing my thesis on the Presidents I was struck by the sharp division between those who seem to have genuine religious beliefs and those who knew it was politic to pretend so. The Founders especially: Adams and Jefferson have one letter in which they talk about the likelihood of an afterlife and Tom writes (paraphrasing), “Yeah, but I figure, though its probably all BS, why not hedge your bets?” I regard that as the mark of an undercover agnostic.

            • I doubt it. It’s not that some Muslims don’t take themselves that seriously, it’s that the ones who don’t are deathly afraid of the ones who do. Making jokes isn’t worth having a fatwa issued against you, especially when there isn’t an ocean keeping you apart from those who issue it. It’s all too easy to be making jokes in a nightclub one hour and shot dead the next, with the shooters quickly vanishing into one of the strict quarters where no one will ever find them.

              Jewish humor was big here in the Borscht Belt before Israel really got off the ground, so I am guessing in the hipper places like Tel Aviv it’s considered funny, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if the ultra-Orthodox folks, of whom there are many in Israel, frown on it, so comedians need to watch their step.

                • And for Jack, an oldie but goodie:
                  Mr. and Mrs. Greenberg go out to see My Fair Lady on stage. This is the most sold out show of the year, and scalpers are retiring on this one.

                  Somehow, they’ve lucked into front row seats. But they notice that in the row behind them, there’s an empty seat. When intermission comes and no one has sat in that seat, Mrs. Greenberg turns around to ask a question and recognizes the woman next to the empty seat as a friend of her parents. After the polite greetings, she has to ask “oh, Mrs. Schwartzman, this is such a sold out show, and in such demand. We were wondering why that seat is empty.” The woman says, “That’s my late husband’s seat.” Mrs. Greenberg is horrified and apologizes for being so insensitive. But a few minutes later, she turns around again. “Without meaning to be rude or anything, this is an incredibly hard show to get into. Surely you must have a friend or a relative who would have wanted to come and see the show?”

                  Mrs. Schwartzman nods, but explains, “They’re all at the funeral.”

  3. As a wee baby liberal, I used to really like Neil DeGrasse Tyson. In the years since he first made it big, he has revealed himself as little more than a self-promoting killjoy with an ego far beyond his ability. This tweet was indeed asshole-ish, and typical of him.

    • He epitomizes the kind of internet-era-science-snark that makes “I Fucking Love Science” so popular. As some comedy writer whose name eludes me once said: they don’t love science, they lust science. They don’t know what PCR or ELISA or HPLC are, but they love the sex appeal of saying “Schroedinger’s cat, dark matter, lol magic sky daddy.”

      See also: most fans of the show Rick and Morty.

  4. Most Christians (at least the ones I know) are quite aware that Jesus wasn’t born on Christmas day. I don’t know what he is trying to prove other than to be a snob and a jerk.

    • He’s an atheist first, an aspiring celebrity second, and science is a distant third.

      Even before he started publicly exposing himself (before he got caught telling the same made-up story about President Bush at speaking engagements long after he’d been informed that it was false,) he lost me with one of the most poorly-thought our arguments I’d ever seen an atheist apologist make. Basically, the beauty and intricacy of the universe cannot be support for the idea of God because ugly things like beetles exist too. Seriously.

      • “(before he got caught telling the same made-up story about President Bush at speaking engagements long after he’d been informed that it was false,)”

        So far as I know that story was outed by Sean Davis in September of 2014. Tyson reluctantly admitted his error soon after.

        Was Tyson informed earlier than that?

        • Hardly. He continued to relay the story after the first debunking, insisted that his version was correct, and falsely claimed that there was no record by which to verify the Bush speech. When all of that didn’t work, he simply posted the words “my bad” on Facebook. (I’d love to see where all of that ranks on the Apology Scale.)

  5. Seriously? The Washington Post? Evidence for the “historical Jesus” doesn’t stack up?

    That is embarrassing. The “Jesus may not have existed” conspiracy theory is right up there with flat earths and ancient aliens who built the pyramids. It’s been thoroughly debunked (moreso than it even deserved) by countless historians, secular and religious. Bart Ehrman alone has eviscerated it.

    Only the following analogy really hammers home how hard the Post has fallen here: Imagine if a Washington Post writer spend a whole night reading Holocaust-denier websites, and then decided to ring in Yom Kippur with the column: “Did the Holocaust Really Happen? The Evidence Doesn’t Stack Up.”

    • Ehrman’s work is pretty good. It’s pretty hard to accuse him of confirmation bias when he doesn’t believe himself. He studied under one of the greatest textual criticism scholars of the 20th century Bruce Metzger.

    • I’m still trying to figure out how someone who didn’t exist can also be black, gay, a talented magician, and capable of fathering children with Mary Magdalene. All are simultaneously true according to several atheist friends I’ve had over the years. But the Bible has its own contradictions, so who am I ask for consistent arguments.

      • Because your atheist friends aren’t interested in the truth. They’re interested in pressing buttons. Jerkassery knows neither faith nor lack of faith, but it does seem to be awfully prominent among atheists. For people who don’t believe in God or any gods, it seems like some atheists spend an awful lot of time thinking about Him and railing against Him. I don’t get it. Logic would seem that if you don’t believe this or that, you’d just ignore it and get on with your life as long as it “neither picks your pocket nor breaks your legs” (Jefferson) I’ve yet to see an organization devoted to opposition to faith that did much good. I don’t mean the secular charities like Doctors Without Borders, I mean the atheist activist organizations like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which I think would be more accurately titled the Hatred Of Religion Foundation, who go around the country looking for prayers to stop or crosses to tear down.

        Tyson is clearly either a hater of Christianity or a self-publicist who thrives on attention. Neither is a particularly good thing to be. Whatever issues anyone may have with Christianity (and there are more than a few to be had), it’s still entitled to the same deference as other faiths, and a hater of it is just as bad as an anti-Semite or an Islamophobe. If I was to post “happy pedophile raider day” on Eid (although Muhammad was in fact a caravan raider at some point in his life and married to one wife who was way too young by today’s standards) I’m sure I’d be hearing about it. If the latter, nothing gets attention like acting outrageously and attacking cherished icons. In the end, he IS just an asshole and should be treated as such.

  6. Jack,

    Perhaps we are seeing a confluence of several concepts you have recently discussed.

    Why has he been elevated to such a lofty position of authority when I am unaware of any scientific breakthrough by his work as a scientist, author, or host. Could it be that he is just telegenic (attractive)? Could his rise be attributed to his race – very few African American astrophysicists that are telegenic and have a melodic voice. Perhaps he felt that he could get away with such a condescending tweet because of his relative scarcity among astrophysicists.

    One of his quotes refers to science is facts. He should know science is a process not a bunch of facts because our understanding of the cosmos is based solely on what we think are facts until new information changes that understanding.

    Until he can tell me what existed before the big bang and what triggered it he cannot rule out anything. I am not particularly religious so dogma does not affect my thinking. I do wonder why we attempt to infer terracentric constructs of time to dispute genesis. What if we considered one day to mean the time it took for the universe to rotate 360 degrees around to point of origin of the big bang. One day could be hundreds of millions of years or more. I don’t know, but such questions if answereable could lead to different scientific perspectives regarding the formation of the known universe.

  7. What about Josephus, the Jewish-Roman historian’s mention of Jesus’s trial and crucifixion three times in his historical writings? It’s pretty obvious that Jesus was an actual person and to cast doubt on that is mean spirited and idiotic.

      • Not apparently. Some scholars believe the Testimonium Flavianum may have had some additions from later Christian editors, but that the nucleus of the text (around which that editor possibly added terms like “Christ”) contained authentic references by Josephus to Jesus being crucified under the authority of Pilate.

        Like all these ancient texts, it just depends on who you want to believe about how authentic any component of the text is.

        So no, not *apparently* added later to the account.

  8. Watching a program on Tesla tonight. As humanitarians and scientists go Neil deGrasse Theissen is a 1st year college student compared to Tesla.

  9. To make a trifecta of Christmas jerks, to the list of Neil Degrasse Tyson, the Washington Post article, add the insufferables who insist on trying to convince us it isn’t “Christmas”, we’re really celebrating Sol Invictus or Saturnalia or some other ancient pagan holiday that HAS NOT BEEN CELEBRATED FOR ALMOST 2000 years (except recently by the same insufferables)

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