Most people take it for granted that they exercise free will, yet the evidence seems to indicate overwhelmingly that they don't.
1) If God knows everything, including the future, that means he knows what you are going to do before you do it. Hence you have no choice about what you are going to do. Hence you have no free will.
2) Everything has a cause. Human actions, choices and decisions have a cause. If something has a cause, a specific effect will inevitably follow. If you are part of an inexorable chain of cause and effect, at what point can you make a free choice? According to the philosophical position known as determinism, there is no such point. Hence you have no free will.
3) According to the contrary position - indeterminism - some human actions, choices and decisions, do not have a cause and hence are free. But if an action is uncaused i.e. there is no reason for it, then it is random, purposeless and pointless. Hence there is free will, but it is contrary to the cause and effect evident all around us, and it results in uncaused, random behaviour. And that is not what anyone realistically means by free will.
4) Compatibilism asserts that a distinction must be drawn between causation and compulsion. An action can have a cause and still be free provided that no compulsion is involved (like having a gun put to your head). But if the causes of your actions are ultimately given to you by your genes and/or by your childhood environment where your character was moulded, then these were things over which you had no control, hence your choices and actions are governed by forces outside your control, hence you have no free will.
5) Agent causation theory says that an action is free when an agent, and nothing else, causes it to happen. But there is no clear definition of what a free agent actually is. Is it the free originator of an action or is it the constrained by-product of forces over which it had no control (such as genes or environment)?
6) Imagine that a supercomputer could be built that could create a complete simulation of both you and the world you live in. Imagine that every detail of your life was perfectly programmed into it. Imagine that the simulation of you and your world was run a day in advance of your life and it transpired that 99% of the simulation exactly matched what you actually did the following day. Most people are extremely predictable. Their daily routines are well known. Their tastes are known. Amazon can send you book recommendations based on your previous book choices and mostly get it right. Advertisers can easily manipulate you. Opinion pollsters can accurately determine your likely voting preferences simply from your zip code/postcode. Friends and family can predict what gifts you will like and dislike. You yourself know the experiences you are likely to enjoy and those you will probably hate. You seek out the former and avoid the latter. Your life seems to run along railroad tracks. So in what way are you really free? Hence you have no free will.
Free will is essential to Illumination. Without it, there is no morality. People must be free to choose but if their freedom turns out to be illusory then no one can be rewarded or punished for making the "wrong" choices. Religion is meaningless without free will. Everyone might as well be an automaton carrying out pre-programmed instructions.
Illumination teaches the following:
1) God has no foreknowledge of what anyone will do and makes no attempt to predict what anyone will do. Why would he? Concepts such as predestination and determinism are anathema to morality.
2) Imagine a long line of dominoes, expertly set up so that once the first is pushed the last will definitely fall over in due course. This is a model of the chain of cause and effect in the physical world. But if dominoes are replaced by humans, what then? Many humans might be happy to act as dominoes but perhaps a group near the end will decide that they no longer want to stand in line and will walk away before they are pushed by those behind. The chain of cause and effect will be broken. But how is that possible? Aren't humans part of the physical world, of the chain of physical cause and effect? Illumination teaches that the physical and mental worlds are two aspects of the same world, and control can be switched from one to another depending on the strength of mind present. This means that four different types of cause and effect are possible: a) physical cause and physical effect (the domain of science) b) mental cause and physical effect (the domain where we mentally choose to carry out physical actions) c) mental cause and mental effect (the process of organised thinking) d) physical cause and mental effect (the senses collect the physical information that is used by mental processes). The chain of physical cause and physical effect can run parallel to the chain of mental cause and mental effect. The chains of physical cause and mental effect and mental cause and physical effect allow the physical to impact upon the mental and vice versa. In the case of dominoes, there is insufficient mind to alter the chain of physical cause and effect. In the case of humans, sufficient mind is present and can lead to control being transferred from the chain of physical cause and effect to an alternative chain of mental cause and mental effect (making plans to do something else) and mental cause and physical effect (walking away to carry out the alternative activity). In the absence of strong mind, there is no free will, only the chain of physical cause and physical effect, but where strong mind exists, it can choose to break free from the chain of physical cause and physical effect and replace it with an alternative chain of mental cause and physical effect. It is the fact that different chains of cause and effect are available to us and that we can choose one over another that allows us to say that we have free will. But is it genuine free will or are our choices somehow foisted on us?
3) If the mind of a human is shaped by physical factors such as genetic inheritance or childhood environmental inheritance (over which no human has any control), is the mind ever free? Isn't it the slave of factors not of its choosing? Does a person with stupid parents and raised in a poor, crime-infested ghetto have true free will? Can he genuinely choose any course of action, or must he necessarily follow a path laid down for him by his poor-quality genes and hostile environment? Are criminals born or made? If children born in slums were taken away from their parents and raised in the homes of the richest people in the land, and given the finest education available, wouldn't their "free" choices be entirely different? In other words, is a person's character the product of factors outwith itself? If so, no one can be judged on the basis of their character since that character would be radically different if the processes that formed it were changed e.g. by being removed from a deprived environment and placed in a privileged one. Illumination teaches that reincarnation is the way out of the impasse. In a particular life, a person's choices are constrained by the circumstances of his life, most of which are outside of his control, but over a number of lives freely chosen by a soul, the soul's true character can emerge. If a person raised in a violent slum behaves violently, can he really be condemned? If a person born in privilege, with every advantage laid on a plate for him, leads a respectable, prosperous life, can he really be praised? Surely not. Yet in the religions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, a soul can be condemned to hell for eternity on the basis of the outcome of a single lifetime. In these religions, no consideration whatsoever is given to the circumstances in which someone is born and raised. (The soul is imagined to be a free agent, completely unaffected by genes and environment: a scientifically absurd position to hold.) There is no justice in these cruel, Satanic religions. A soul can justly be judged and condemned only if, over a number of incarnations, it consistently chose the worse over the better, evil over good. A single life is no basis for judging a soul; a soul must be tested over a number of incarnations.