Updated: Aug 21, 2022
Does free will exist?
To answer this question, we must understand the nature of time or space-time
We will first have to answer: is time an illusion?
Let's use this animation of a horse to help us answer this.
Photographer Eadweard Muybridge put together this horse animation in 1878 in his chronophotographic works which is a photographic technique from the Victorian era which captures a number of phases of movements. Essentially this horse is not moving at all. What we see as motion, is in fact, not!
This animation is actually unchanging. Why is it unchanging? In order for this animation to change, you need to make still images move consecutively. Think about that. We're merely watching still images moving at a certain rate, say, 24 images per second to create the ILLUSION that something is changing, when it is in fact, not. Just as this animation is an illusion, our perception of time is an illusion. And just like this animation, time or space-time exists unchanging as well.
Our perception of time, which is like this moving animation, is created in our brains and is an illusion, which is known as Presentism, the common sense view of time. Now we know that our forward flow of time is an illusion.
Time is an illusion because our brains are merely interpreting this unchanging entity as motion. This unchanging entity is space-time or the space-time continuum.
If our brains did not do this, you can imagine how we'd not be able to do anything.
So, back to the question: Does free will exist?
Yes, free will exists, but free will is an illusion, just as our perception forward flow of time is an illusion.
But just because free will is an illusion doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
Our free will experience is certainly real, just that it is an illusion.
The reason why free will is an illusion is that all events are already existing in this unchanging spacetime block. In this wee diagram, we can see how the past, present, and future all exist and are equally real. In our common-sense view of time, the past ceases to exist, only existing as memories, the present only exists, and the future isn't existing yet. As previously mentioned, this is known as presentism, which is our brains interpreting space-time as motion, creating an illusion that it is going in a linear fashion.
All future events are set in stone, Predeterminism.
I am currently putting a video together regarding this for further pondering.