Yisrael Kristal, Once The World's Oldest Man, Had His Bar Mitzvah At Age 113
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In March 2016, a Polish-born Israeli man named Yisrael Kristal was declared by Guinness World Records as the oldest living man on Earth. Later that same year, Kristal finally got around to something that was put off for a whole century: his bar mitzvah. In November 2016, the 113-year-old man celebrated the Jewish coming-of-age ritual exactly 100 years late. Better (very, very) late than never, huh?
Belief In God Is The Best Bet, According To Pascal's Wager
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Many great minds have sought proof for God's existence. For French philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal, God's existence was beside the point. He conceded that nobody knows whether or not God exists, but because it's in our own best interests to behave as if he does, that's the most rational choice.
University Of Miami Has The Nation's First Chair For Atheism Studies
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The world's newest major religion is no religion. In recent years, more people than ever identify as atheist, agnostic, or non-religious. Following that trend, the University of Miami has established the first academic chair for the study of atheism in the United States. The change came after a wealthy atheist donor named Louis J. Appignani gave the university a $2.2 Million endowment in April of 2016. "I'm trying to eliminate discrimination against atheists," 83-year-old Appignani told The New York Times. "So this is a step in that direction, to make atheism legitimate." Religion departments are standard facets of universities, but now, teachings of secularism and atheism are creeping into the mix. Scholars say atheism is just now beginning to emerge as an accepted academic field, and Appignani and the University of Miami is evidence of that. Watch these videos to learn more about atheism, and why it's so popular.
What It's Like to Be A Child Goddess In Nepal
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Some children have the chance to try out for a sports team or be chosen for the school play, but young girls in Nepal have the chance to be a living goddess. The kumari are prepubescent girls who are considered an embodiment of a female deity—the goddess Taleju, a version of Durga, for Hindus; the supreme goddess Vajradevi, a Buddha, for Buddhists. They're worshipped by everyone from locals to kings and presidents. Each kumari is chosen based on 32 characteristics of physical perfection, including unblemished skin and "thighs like a deer, chest like a lion, and eyelashes like a cow," according to NPR. Once the child is selected, she must stay indoors at all times except for during religious festivals. When she does leave her home, she must be carried, since her feet are forbidden from touching the ground. She may only speak to her family, who must perform daily worship rituals known as nitya puja before her each morning. Above all, she must not bleed, because it's believed that the goddess living within her will leave if she loses any blood. For this reason, a kumari is dismissed when she gets her first period, and a new kumari is chosen. Learn more about this custom with the videos below.
Mother Teresa: Charitable Hero Or Fraud?
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Mother Teresa, born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in 1910, is an international icon. She is known for her Nobel Prize-winning charitable work helping the poorest of the poor throughout her lifetime. But was she truly the hero that her legacy suggests? According to some people, Mother Teresa was "no Mother Teresa." She faced criticism in life and after death for several facets of her work, as well as her anti-abortion views. Criticism for Mother Teresa is not new, nor is the source limited to a single group. She has received persistent allegations of misusing large amounts of funds, poor medical treatments and conditions in her facilities, and diligently attempting to convert the people she helped to Christianity. The British medical journal the Lancet published an article in 1994 that critically assessed the subpar care in Mother Teresa's facilities. On the other hand, in December 2015, it was decided that Mother Teresa would become a saint in the following year, the highest honor of the Catholic church. Learn more about Mother Teresa's story in the video below.