Just got back from Waking Up with Sam Harris at the Orpheum in Boston. My favorite phrase that I heard, from Max Tegmark, was "meat-based computer" which is all I think we humans are. Do you agree that we are essentially like computers with our hardware and software dictating our course through this life or do you think there is more and, more importantly, what evidence do you offer for there being more?
I actually do lean towards S. Harris' view of humanity, consciousness, etc. - for now because I am agnostic, after all.
Below is a summary (or collection) my thoughts from a discussion from a separate thread about free will (https://agnostic.com/discussion/13419/why-we-don't-have-free-will-why-thats-ok-youtube):
My thoughts as a "meat-based computer":
Our beliefs, our choices, our friends, our partners, (and definitely our lineage: parents, grand parents, evolutionary ancestors, etc.) are all external factors which our brains process (and store) to produce physical reactions (action, emotion, thought, etc.). Additionally to those external factors, experiences from previous brain processes and physical reactions are also used to produce the same or other physical reactions.
With that logic, I can only conclude that we are "meat-based computers".
I have not been convinced with any argument from other posters that we have free will. It is especially less convincing when the argument is simply stating that a choice has been made. E.g.: "...we chose our friends...", "...we chose our partners...", "...I chose to eat the chicken rather than the salad...".
I believe that all those examples of choices listed just above this paragraph would have been predicated by an experience, idea, belief, emotion, thought or even a small chemical reaction in your body that you were unconsciously aware.
I will even go as far to say that: "with our conscious mind, there can't be free will". And vice-versa: "free will requires a non-conscious mind".
To end, the one line from S. Harris that stuck with me is: "... from the perspective of your conscious mind, you're no more responsible for your next thought ..."
If we are like computers, then we take in more data than most any iv ever heard of, not talking simply cognition or amount of facts known, but our senses and many more things about us make us complicated. We are so hard to pin down that all our actions might as well be random, maybe with some slight tendency.