in response to discussions about the attrocities that have been committed throughout history "in the name of god", crusades, inquisition, salem witch trials, etc., christians often say that god gave humans free will i suppose as an alibi that it's not god's fault since man has this god given freedom of mind to do his dastardly deeds without influence from the all mighty. but then when the talk moves to discussing belief in god and consequences, this same "jealous" god expects us not to use this free will but to believe in him or else. won't go over the or else part, that seems to be an area of confusion in itself, but it does bring up the question of where did a christian's free will go? the choice to dwell in heaven or burn in hell for etenity is hardly free will. only two choices? jeez.
Submitting yourself to God doesn't mean you don't think things out on your own, make plans and goals. It means to get a Job Promotion, you don't stab someone in the back. It means you can have sex, but you wait until you are married. It means you can drink beer, but be responsible about it. It means you can do anything you want, but you don't do something dishonest and anti-social to achieve it.
As a Christian, I use my free will to make decisions about my life (doing my part of going out), and let God mold my character so I do it properly. You don't become an automoton when you live for God, you become a thoughtful person.
On the heaven or hell thing. Heaven is God's home. He lives there. So if someone was always bad mouthing him outside his home, do you expect him to invite you to his home?
Would you invite someone who disrespected you into your home? If not, then why don't you think God doesn't invite a great deal of people into his home! But you don't believe in him, so why worry. Enjoy your life, relax, and smile. You only have one life to live, so enjoy it.
i feel i have free will only because my mind is free to explore the many alternatives to gods and an afterlife. my mind is capable of studying theories such as evolution and the big bang without bias just as i studied the bible when i was a presbyterian. so is it not the case that in reality, if you believe in god you have actually been robbed of much of your free will?
Religion does steal lots of free will of humanity, but not belief in God.
Remember, I was an atheist, who read the Bible and I saw the connection between how the Bible says we are made to take care of nature (because God made us to till the ground of the garden), and the fact we are the only lifeform who can take care of the planet. So I used my free choice to decide that I believe in God, but before my free choice was not to believe in God. Does that mean I have lost a free choice. Free choice is about, making decisions. Once you make a decision, and it works for you, why change? If it allows you to grow in your humanity, just continue on with that choice. But at the same time, don't just stop there, learn more and more, round out your spiritual life more and more so you can grow and grow out of the person you think you are, into what you are truly capable of.