A topic was brought up in my Cognitive Psychology class today. That of free will. That of its very existence.
There have been recent studies of the unconscious and conscious mind showing that we are now able to show (through brain activity) the choice someone is going to make 6 seconds before they consciously make that decision. This raises the debate of if there truly is a free-will.
I came to the conclusion of having to define free-will. Many define it as the ability to consciously make a decisions so then by this evidence, we would not possess free-will since our unconscious minds make decisions before we are consciously aware of it. And after the choice is made, we begin to justify every decision our unconscious mind made by trying to tie it into beliefs and values we hold. We would do this to prevent cognitive dissonance and to keep us believing we are in control of our lives.
Now, if you define free-will as the ability (consciously or unconsciously) to make a decision apart from control of an external source, then that evidence just shows the complexity of the human mind and how there are many things that go on in the unnoticeable parts of the brain before they even reach our consciousness.
But then you have the debate on the controlling ability of outside factors such as genes, nurture, situations, etc. But in reality, those things just affect the things that may happen to us, but they do not affect our ability to choose how we react, feel, or respond to the situations.
Ultimately, I believe we have free-will. We have a mind, and it makes decisions regardless of if we consciously know of them or not. If we didn't have free-will, we would be little puppets controlled by a god or our own basic desires and needs. But the very fact we can decide to believe in a god or withhold our urges, I believe, provides evidence in itself for free-will (or free-choice as some desire to call it). If we didn't have free will, then we would be as the animals are. . . only living to supply and fulfill our basic needs and urges.