There is no problem of free will. Humans can realize degrees of freedom and make informed choices; in many situations they can do what they desire to do or what they find to be in their best interest. There isn’t any conflict between this concept of free action and a concept of determinism which does not imply predictability or inevitability. This free action and free choice are all that are required for what Dennett refers to as freedom worth having.
Shermer is surely correct and Harris incorrect on the question of free will. Shermer makes reference to some interesting neurological evidence for the inhibition-of-impulses process in our brains, something that I had not heard before. But this conforms to what a number of philosophers and psychologists have long argued: namely, that we’re able to make significant choices between contrary alternatives despite that fact that whatever we choose to do can be neurologically explained in terms of a number of brain processes, which we don’t control and of which we’re not even aware.
In many discussions of the “free will” issue, the argument is made that we don’t have any freedom of choice because, with respect to any action we do, we could not have done other than what we did. For example, suppose I choose to support candidate “Tom” for some elective office I might think that I freely choose to support Tom, but others will argue that I could not have done otherwise; i.e., that I my support of Tom was determined by a causal chain of events and conditions that I did not control.
What Mr. Gardner says concerning the possibility of an afterlife and the “mystery” of free will reminds me that even very intelligent persons can go off on the wrong track. Even a genius can sometimes affirm ideas, which in other contexts we might associate with the assertions of mad men.