Author Archives: Roger Schriner

Trump Lives in a Western Nation – So Is He an Oxy-Moron?

Secretary of State Tillerson reportedly called the President a moron, but he recently passed a cognitive exam with flying colors. So why does he keep making what a sportscaster would call “unforced errors?”

I am frankly surprised to hear that his frequent signs of stupidity are not due to cognitive decline. It certainly seems as if his blunders are getting worse. But by comparison, it may seem as if a pain I’m having now is worse than the pain I had yesterday – because I’m having it, not remembering it.

Trump’s recent insults to Haiti and Africa seemed like a new low, but he has a longstanding reputation for crude gutter language. And of course insulting people, and groups of people, is one of his personal hobbies. Even so, it was clearly stupid to speak of “shithole” or “shithouse” countries when Dick Durbin, a Democrat, was in the room. Did he forget who Durbin was, or not realize the consequences of someone reporting his vicious remarks?

As far as I know Trump has not had his head examined, with an X-ray or MRI. So he could have a brain tumor. But it may just be that deeply rooted personality defects distort his thinking – impulsiveness, arrogance, hostility, cruelty, a short attention span, and a love of risk-taking. Something is clouding his judgment.

Shortly after the election, I called Trump “a demagogic genius with a twisted personality.” “Because he is so unpredictable,” I said, “I have no doubt that Trump will surprise us in some positive ways. Play roulette fifty rounds and sometimes you’ll win big.”

The only surprise for me is that “45″ has done so little that seems brilliant. I thought we had a twisted genius in the White House. But it looks like he’s just twisted.

Roger Christan Schriner

(With thanks to my wife Jo Ann for her occidental nation – oxymoron quip.)

Donald Trump, Our Eight-Year-Old President

I recently read a wonderful column by the Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern, pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto CA. She compares the behavior of DT, age 71, to the way her daughter acted at age 8. At 10, she’s outgrown it, but it seems very unlikely that DT ever will:

Unreality-based leadership

Roger Christan Schriner

Proud of My Country – What a Surprise!

Last weekend hundreds of National Football League players, coaches, and even team owners pushed back against Donald Trump’s attacks on sports figures who have protested the treatment of African-Americans by refusing to stand during the national anthem. Some went down on one knee. Some linked arms. Some didn’t even come onto the field till the anthem was over.

I was caught off guard by this news. For almost the first time since election night, I was proud to be an American again.

Like many others I was shocked by the election outcome on November 8. I had already been amazed that more than, say, 20% of US voters would support Trump. But when our citizens actually chose this man as President, I felt stark despair. (My post-election entry lists nine compelling reasons.)

Since that night I have occasionally seen glimmers of hope. Just this week, for example, John McCain stood up for rational, detailed discussion of proposed health care legislation, and for bipartisan cooperation. But the speed and the extent of the football players’ response to Trump’s “son of a bitch” diatribe truly amazed me.

I was particularly impressed that coaches and owners joined in, but not everyone found this inspiring. The New York Times, for example, emphasized various criticisms of the NFL and its team owners, such as their reluctance to admit that concussions damage brains.

Well, as a general rule, which is more constructive? To say:

“These people just did something good, but they have also done bad things. Shame on them!”

Or to say:

“These people have done bad things, but they just did something terrific. Good for them!”

Shall we praise people when they make progress, or just keep scolding them until they reach our standards of perfection?

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Times and I eagerly read its print edition. But I think we need to celebrate the positive, and not just complain about what’s wrong.

Today I’m happy to see signs of resilience in my deeply troubled native land.

Roger Christan Schriner

The Fine-Tuning Argument for God’s Existence

I have recently posted a four-part series on the “fine-tuning” controversy on my theological blog, Theists & Atheists: Communication & Common Ground. Some scientists claim that if the basic physical laws of the universe had been just slightly different, intelligent life could never have existed. Is this true? And if it is, does that show that the universe was designed by God as a home for humans?

The series includes some comments from the Closet Atheist blog and some passages from my book, Bridging the God Gap: Finding Common Ground Among Believers, Atheist and Agnostics. Click here if you’d like to check it out.

Roger Christan Schriner

Abortion and the Bible

One of my web sites deals with “Biblical inerrancy,” the idea that a supernatural being essentially dictated the entire Christian Bible so that every word is true. To some of you this may seem like a silly idea. But at least in the United States, Biblical inerrancy or literalism has a big impact on the way people live, think, feel, and vote. Continue reading

The Bible — God’s Word? A New Post on my “Bible blog”

I’ve just added this post to my blog about the Bible —

Why Read “Did God Really Say THAT!?”

This poat explains the purpose of that blog, and uses The Heartblink as an example: Continue reading

An Atheist Daughter Talks to Her Mother

I’ve recently run across a poignant communication from a college-age atheist to her Christian mother. It’s well-expressed and heartfelt, and it ties in with my blog on Theists & Atheists: Communication & Common Ground. See:

An Open Letter to My Mother

Roger Christan Schriner

My Upcoming Talk in Shanghai

I’ve just been notified that my proposal for a presentation on consciousness has been accepted by organizers of The Science of Consciousness, Shanghai, China, June 5-10, 2017. [Update: The conference has been moved to San Diego, California.]

Here’s the abstract of my paper, Dueling Skepticisms: Strong Fallibilism Versus Illusionism. Continue reading

Some Thoughts for Those Who Voted for Donald Trump – and Those Who Didn’t

My reaction to the election of Donald Trump is intensely negative, but some people I respect did vote for him. I want to explain to Trump voters why many of us are appalled by this fellow, and I hope these comments will also be helpful to those who voted against him. Please forward this post if you find it valuable.

I don’t expect to convince people that I am right. I just want to explain why I feel so strongly.

Some of what I’ll say will be blunt, but if you voted for Trump you probably feel OK about blunt language. I’ll start with a short list of issues, followed by more details in the “footnotes.”

  1. Donald Trump loves to brutally humiliate people. “She had blood coming out of her wherever.” “Look at that face.”*1

Continue reading

What If Dogs Had Human Intelligence?

Here’s a recent post on my blog, The Mystery of Consciousness, and Why It Matters,

I’ve recently read a fascinating book called Fifteen Dogs, by André Alexis. In this fanciful, rather sobering tale, two Greek gods make a bet with each other about what dogs would experience if they were given human intelligence.

Although this story doesn’t focus on the issues I’ve addressed in this blog, it does highlight the fact that every mind shapes reality in its own way. Their new brain power radically alters their world-view, and this is quite disturbing to some of these canines. In fact one dominant dog named Atticus insists that those in his pack mostly suppress their new intellectual gifts. Continue reading