Sam Harris is of the conviction that he can talk about the loss of freedom as though it were the loss of something that left everything else about human nature relatively unchanged — such as when your uncle loses his left leg, well below the knee. You have the same old uncle, just a little less of him.
But losing our freedom is not like this at all. We lose that and we lose our humanity. It not like an apple pie losing a slice, but more like a cube losing its height. We don’t really have three dimensions, but more like one dimension with three attributes — height, breadth and depth. And the thing is, you can’t remove one of them without simultaneously removing the other two. If you had a cube of wood sitting on your desk, and you completely removed its height, the result would not be a very, very flat cube, depth and breadth still intact, shimmering in a transparent way there on your desk.
To acknowledge that he has lost his freedom, Harris needs to realize that he has lost his humanity, along with various other features of humanity. One of those human features is his views about God, his atheism, which is long gone by this point. Consider this comment from his conclusion. You can hear the wind rustling the leaves of the trees all through the cemetery.
“Not only are we not as free as we think we are — we do not feel as free as we think we do. Our sense of our own freedom results from our not paying close attention to what it is like to be us. The moment we pay attention, it is possible to see that free will is nowhere to be found, and our experience is perfectly compatible with this truth. Thoughts and intentions simply arise in the mind. What else could they do?” (p. 64).
Harris is the punch bowl, and his thoughts are bobbing around like so many ice cubes. In fact, they are so thick in there, and are bumping around much that it might be necessary for Harris to write himself a book!
Not only did he fail to make his case on free will, but Harris’ atheism, and rationalism, and scientism, are three shimmery cubes on my desk here. Okay, all done with that.