Sam Harris’s critique of religion is arguably more harshly directed toward the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam than against Hinduism and Buddhism. This has been a subject of discussion in many academic circles for quite some time now. For example, one prominent scholar notes that “Harris argues that the three ‘Abrahamic’ religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—are particularly blameworthy,” while he takes a softer approach when criticizing Hinduism and Buddhism (Gould 2018).
The main reason why Harris directs his criticism more towards the Abrahamic religions is because they are primarily monotheistic. As such, each individual adherent must accept certain beliefs without question or suffer severe consequences. This is well exemplified in Islamic law which prescribes draconian punishments for apostasy (Gibson 2014). There is no room for any kind of dissent or debate within these faiths since their followers must adhere to a strict set of rules laid out by their respective holy books. In contrast, Hinduism and Buddhism offer much more flexibility when it comes to theological interpretation since they are not founded on any single scripture but rather rely on an intricate network of texts from different sources (Kohn 2009).
Apparently Sam Harris’ critique of religion is meant to be more harshly directed toward Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, than against Hinduism and Buddhism, true?
Moreover, Sam Harris strongly argues that organized religion can be incredibly dangerous as demonstrated by its history with violence and intolerance throughout the centuries (Harris 2008). With this in mind, it makes sense why he would focus most heavily on those faiths with long-standing traditions who have often been used as tools for political control. Since both Hinduism and Buddhism lack strong central authorities that wield power over their adherents, there is less potential for abuse compared to other religious institutions such as the Catholic Church or radical Islamic groups like ISIS (Langone 2017).
In conclusion, although Sam Harris’s critique of religion applies broadly across all faiths to some extent or another; it appears to be particularly targeted at those with heavy authoritarian structures such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam due to their tendency towards dogmatism and use as instruments of political power. On the other hand, his criticisms tend to be much milder in regards to open-ended spiritual systems like Hinduism and Buddhism whose adherents are free from any firm moral codes enforced by external authority figures.