There is a more simplistic way of looking at this.
Let us take the base premises:
1- Humans have agency (p)
2- Humans don’t have agency (q)
Note: “agency” in somplistic terms regarding actually meaningful alternative choices made by said “human agent.”
It should be clear enough that the statements leave us with p OR q.
3- If q then NOT p.
4- If p then NOT q.
This is all fairly obvious and straight forward I hope!
The question is then a matter of looking at the What ifs?
Let is think of humans who go with statement p and humans that go with statement q. Both cannot be correct as we have set out the argument as either or.
Let us now view the possible outcomes of each of these positions with a new set of statements (A):
1- Humans say they DO have agency when they DO NOT ( humans say agency and there is NO agency)
2- Humans say they DO NOT have agency when they DO NOT (humans say NO agency and there is NO agency)
3- Humans say they DO have agency when they DO (humans say agency and there is agency)
4- Humans say they DO NOT have agency when they DO (humans say NO agency and there is agency)
Why is this worth bringing up you might ask, it’s obvious! Yes, it is.
The point is that for (1) and (2) above there is no agency so the perceived choice is illusionary because it’s preset and unchangeable. In neither situation does the human alter the ourcome.
Now look at (3) and (4). Here there is a difference in outcome where there wasn’t for the first 2 situations. (3) holds to the same as (1) with the difference being they are actually an agent and acting like an agent, whereas with (2) and (4) the situations are quite different again yet the consequences are too. In the situations of (1) and (2) what the human says has no bearing whilst in situation (3) and (4) what the human says has a bearing on the outcome, with (3) correct with consequences and (4) incorrect with consequencies. It should be clear enough to see that the consequences for (1) and (2) are empty as there are no consequences on the part of the human agent (there being NO agency) only a set chain of events. Whilst for (3) and (4) the chain of future events is determined by the actions of the human agent.
Of course this is not a proof of human agency or choice. It is merely a look at the possible situations given by the alternative premises and a measure of them against each other to determine which makes logical sense and which doesn’t. The reality of the situation is not being questioned here because I’m not an omnipotent being able to make such claims about the machinations of the universe.
The Possible Counter Argument ...
Someone may say, as they have already, that this is the same as arguing for the belief in god on the off chance that god may exist. Let us look how much weight there this is to this and look a set of statements (B):
1- Humans say they DO have “god” when they DO NOT ( humans say “god” and there is NO “god”)
2- Humans say they DO NOT have “god” when they DO NOT (humans say NO “god” and there is NO “god”)
3- Humans say they DO have “god” when they DO (humans say “god” and there is “god”)
4- Humans say they DO NOT have “god” when they DO (humans say NO “god” and there is “god”)
This is quite a different set of premises becasue unlike the first set there is a meaningful difference of outcome between (1) and (2) assuming the agency of the humans in question because (1) is incorrect and (2) is correct. For (3) and (4) there is also a meaningful difference of outcome with one being correct and the other being incorrect.
The point is the possible consequence fo each. To argue that the statements (A) are the same as statements (B) is clearly incorrect. If they are the same then the only arguement that holds up would be to frame the humans who say they have a “god” as inconsequential and therefore to argue against something being correct when it is inconsequential is rather backwards to say the least.
In statements (A) the issue of agency is in plain sight, in statements (B) they can be conveniently ignored. Of they are not ignored then we are presented with statement set (A) because none of the statements et (B) have any significance to the question of human agency as posed in statements (A).
In fact we could well frame te question in a completely different manner and make the statement set (C) as follows:
1- God exists
2- God gave us free will.
3- God didn’t give us free will.
4- Humans say God gave us free will.
5- Humans say God didn’t give us free will.
Obviously (2) OR (3), and obviously (4) OR (5). Of course (1) is not really under scrutiny here and it doesn’t need to be. I also wouldn’t us the term “free will” and I didn’t originally because it’s a loaded term. The only opening possible is to question the term “agency,” but if the term is not accepted then one cannot address the argument in the first place due to being of the dogmatic persuasion of statement “humans DO NOT have agency” - which by-the-way I neither hold to nor against accept under certain well defined logical statements. By statements in set (A) I see no justification for holding to the fact that we DO NOT have agency which leads to another set of interesting questions where the alternative leads nowhere fast (it’s irrelevant by definition as a premise from which to actively function - correct or otherwise). As compared to “God,” and the possibility of existence of such a being, I’m not about to start believing in such a being and even if such a being existed I’d have a great deal to say to it and wouldn’t blindly follow some apparent “entity” - the existence of sch a thing would intrigue me no end, yet I’d be suspicious, and full of pity for, such a being. I cannot imagine it’s a picnic being responsible for all lf creation, nor can I imagine such a “being” which then also begs the question of what it is people are actually talking about when they refer to “god” if they’re unable to explain or understand what it is they’re talkign about. I know what I mea when I refer to “God” as some actual meaningful concept; it is that which coats the phenomenal horizon of our understanding, that which some wish for and other fear, the unknown and the courage that on occasion drives us out of our comfort zones into possible death and destruction.
If there is some “being” beyond my comprehension then anything I have to say about it is make believe, or at best a highly dubious and deeply skeptical guess based on my own personal sense of what I mean by “beyond” and “comprehension”.
Of course there is plenty of other counter arguments to this but they all step outside the bounds of the statements I set out.
There is immeasureable complexity to the universe. Our limited perspective and capacity to understand the universe tells us that much may appear undetermined and unpredictable yet be a consequence of a set and unmovable rules we’re almost completely disassociated from. I no more pretend to understand my existence than I do dismiss it as insignificant given that “significance” means I am necessarily “significant” in some finite/infite way as little or large as it may or may not be ... this doesn’t make me side with nihilism and choose to live a meaningless life simply because I’m ignorant of so, so, so much.