Is free will an illusion?

There is a theory gaining credence among a certain class of psychologists and neuroscientists that "free will" is an illusion. According to them, all our decisions are the result of instinctive, innate brain-wiring. Our brain only creates the illusion of "free will" to delude us into believing that we make decisions as conscious entities.

These same people say that sentient consciousness is a defect of evolution, because it takes about a thousand times longer to make a conscious decision than to do something reflexively, and furthermore, than consciousness is a huge waste of metabolic energy.

This theory is  bizarre. Why would consciousness have evolved if it is an energy-wasting delusion?

But why is our consciousness so highly developed? Is there any evolutionary purpose in understanding mathematics, the sciences, and the arts? How is human survival helped by understanding the Theory of Relativity. We've actually reached the point where our intelligence has become detrimental to our survival, now that we know how to unleash nuclear, chemical, or biological annihilation upon ourselves.

Why is our brain wired  to understand the structure of the Universe, from the tiniest subatomic particles, to the galactic mega-structures? Why are we able to understand that space, time, matter, and energy are parts of a whole? How does that help us reproduce the species?

It seems that our minds have been created to understand the universe, and the universe has been created so large that it will take an infinity of time for us to understand it all. I see deliberate purpose at work here, not random evolution.

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