On Christmas Day, noted scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson posted some funny tweets:
“On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton!”
“Merry Christmas to all. A Pagan holiday (BC) becomes a Religious holiday (AD). Which then becomes a Shopping holiday (USA).”
Come on, those were funny indeed. But of course, Christians all over complained that the scientist was insulting their religion.
He responded to the criticism with logic, as if that would make a difference to these people: “If a person actually wanted to express anti-Christian sentiment, my guess is that alerting people of Isaac Newton’s birthday would appear nowhere on the list.”
Let’s face it, the first two there are standard jokes a stand-up comedian would tell. You start off saying something wherein everyone knows where you’re going, and then boom, you hit them with the unexpected punch. The third is just an observation about the commercialization of Christmas that even Christians should agree with.
Tyson, like the majority of scientists, is an atheist although he never uses that word to describe himself. He says very clearly that he thinks faith and reason are irreconcilable. “Everybody who tried to make proclamations about the physical universe based on Bible passages got the wrong answer,” he says. He refuses the label “atheist” because he says that there shouldn’t be a word for not believing in something. “I don’t play golf, so is there a word you can use for me as a non-golf player?”
Here, of course, is where I disagree with him. No one is being discriminated against for not playing golf, but atheists are looked down on in society and often have to fight for their rights. Because of that, too many atheists are “in the closet” which, as we have seen with the gay rights movement, does nothing to help people realize that they’re really not that different from everyone else.