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Primordial Bowling Ball from Outer Space

September 30, 2019

Mohadesa Najumi, a young Afghan immigrant in the UK, writes at The Independent about how atheism helped ground her:

Once I realised at age 17 that I was an atheist, I began to understand my purpose a lot better. I no longer felt lost or at war with the nature of reality. … Atheism helps me achieve equanimity amid the flux. More importantly, it has allowed me to seek explanations of the natural world through science, to refine my facilities by learning and debating and it has given me the groundwork to insight into the human condition.

Wajih-ul-Hassan, a Pakistani Muslim, has been waiting to be executed over his blasphemy conviction since 2002. Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned his conviction on Thursday.

At Rational Doubt, Maureen Hart, a former Catholic nun, recounts her journey out of faith and to the Clergy Project on the occasion of its 1000-member milestone.

When I set out to write a just a few lines for my online profile, I was astonished to learn how much I had to say, writing page after page, recalling my journey, remembering long forgotten events, spiritual experiences and important influences. It turned out to be a valuable lesson, an exercise in self-knowledge, coming to terms with my transformed credo.

Last year, Egyptian atheist Mohamed Hisham made waves when he openly discussed his atheism on Egyptian television. In an interview with Humanists International, he talks about the blowback, the investigations to which he was subjected, and how keeping his written communications in English helped protect him.

The city council of Arlington, Texas hears an invocation from a member of American Atheists, who asks that the councilmembers “guided by the goodness we know is in them.”

The High Court of the Indian state of Tripura bans animal sacrifice:

The ban on sacrifice of animal … does not infringe the fundamental right as enshrined in Part III under Art 25(1) of the constitution for the reason that such practice is contrary to constitutional morality and health…. The animals have basic rights and we have to recognise and protect them. The animal and bird breath [sic] like us. They are also creation of God.

The Trump/Barr Justice Department is ready to give its support to the Indianapolis Archdiocese so it can go on firing teachers from Catholic schools for bringing all their gayness.

Meanwhile, a judge in Michigan issues an injunction on the state’s new policy banning state contracts with adoption agencies that discriminate against LGBTQ parents because, the judge said, the policy “targets St. Vincent’s [the agency in question] religious beliefs.”

Allow me to agree with Pope Francis right here:

We [in the Catholic hierarchy] focus on sex and then we do not give weight to social injustice, slander, gossip and lies. The church today needs a profound conversion in this area.

So what are you waiting for, Francis? I also liked this: “The mere fact that I now dress all in white has not made me any less sinful or holier than before.” Truth.

A Muslim woman in Falls Church, Virginia, Shahin Indorewala, is suing Fast Trak Management for allegedly refusing to hire her because she requested two five-minute prayer breaks every day.

The Blink-182 guy who loves UFOs says his organization has “exotic” materials that will be scientificaly tested to see if they’re from aliens.

Sarabeth Caplin at Friendly Atheist comments on an account from a new book about Mike Pence in which Karen Pence refused to kiss Mike when Trump had won the 2016 election, outraged over Trump’s vulgarity and immorality:

There’s been a lot of writing about the “Mike Pence Rule,” which says a Christian man shouldn’t be alone with a woman who’s not his wife. It led to plenty of jokes about how tied Pence was to “Mother.” But this report makes it seem like even Karen Pence doesn’t want to be alone with her husband.


A woman in Ohio who intentionally crashed her car at 100 mph into multiple other vehicles says “God told her to do it.”

In the 19th century, some very pious Britons discovered an icthyosaurus fossil and decided to hide it away for fear it would contradict their religious beliefs. A member of that same family, Julian Temperley, has now brought the 90 million-year-old artifact back out into the light.

The thing out in the Kuiper Belt that folks have thought might be “Planet 9” could potentially be a little black hole, according to a new paper. Business Insider reports, “It could be one black hole the size of a bowling ball with the mass of 10 Earths, or a number of smaller primordial black holes that add up to that mass.”

This is just the greatest: A helpline for people who are just SO MAD about Greta Thunberg.

At Fast Company, law professor Ana Santos Rutschman says social media platforms have an obligation to put a stop to anti-vaxxer misinformation:

With outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases on the rise, public health institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been increasing their social media presences. Social media platforms can continue to help reduce misinformation that could further increase vaccine hesitancy in the United States and elsewhere. As suggested by Pinterest’s approach, these tech companies can increase the amount and visibility of vaccine content from reliable sources. While it’s virtually impossible to eliminate all inaccurate posts, I believe social media can and should be redesigned to facilitate the promotion of accurate vaccine information.

Quote of the Day

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: Benjamin Franklin was a former anti-vaxxer who only saw the light when tragedy struck his own family:

In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the smallpox taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of the parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.