Sam HarrisSam Harris famously argues that organized religions are the source of many of the world's evils. His first book was the best-selling The End of Faith (2003), written shortly after and in reaction to the September 11 attacks. His emphasis is on militant or radical Islam, but he also cites Christian atrocities, from the middle ages to American slavery. He does not spare Judaism, as the source of the ideology that a God can command its followers to exterminate another nation (the Canaanites). And Harris does not limit his criticism of Islam to its most radical exponents. The opinions of a majority of muslims in many countries are abhorrent to him, like the death sentence for a muslim leaving the religion and the horrid treatment of women. Following a bachelor's degree in philosophy and a Ph.D in neuroscience from UCLA, Harris has become in many ways the leading hard determinist. This may be because libertarian free will is so widely regarded to be a religious belief? While other neuroscientists ask the question whether our neurons may be in complete charge (e.g., Michael Gazzaniga), Harris has absolutely no doubt about it. He says,
Free will is an illusion. Our wills are simply not of our own making. Thought and intentions emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we exert no conscious control. We do not have the freedom we think we have.Free will is actually more than an illusion (or less), in that it cannot be made conceptually coherent. Either our wills are determined by prior causes and we are not responsible for them, or they are the product of chance and we are not responsible for them.