Compatibilists resemble theologians in many ways, not the least of which is that they both engage in endless lucubrations trying to show that something that doesn’t exist, but that is necessary for our psychological well-being, really does exist in some form or another. People hate the idea that they aren’t agents who can make free choices, just as they hate they idea that there might not be a Protective Father in heaven.As someone who leans toward some sort of retention of free will, I don't think this makes me like a desperate theist. Free will seems real, whatever your position on it. Should I lift up my tea cup now or keep typing? I seem to be free to go either way. God would have to be appearing in the sky day in and day out and speaking in a thunderous voice for theism to have as much experiential support as the belief in free will. Free will supporters are trying to "save the phenomena," which can't be said of theists.
I do hate the idea that I can't make free choices, but not "just as" people hate the idea that there's no "Protective Father in heaven." It's much more unsettling to suppose the course of history was settled, in every last detail, before you were born, than to do without a heavenly father. It's not just seeing myself as an automaton that's disturbing. What really bothers me is thinking that my efforts never alter the course of the future, though of course I do my part to bring about the future that's bound to be. This used to especially bother me a lot when my children were very small. I wanted to think that being vigilant in all things would protect them from some awful eventuality, shifting the future away from Bad B, and toward Good A. But there aren't two possible futures, if determinism is true. We're heading for Bad B or Good A, and my efforts are just a link in a predetermined, unilinear chain. If you let that thought sink in, it's extremely unsettling.
So--free will is much more "evident" than God, and free will is much more existentially crucial than God. That doesn't mean, of course, that free will is a reality. Coyne says science will not allow it, since our choices take place in our brains, and our brains are part of the completely law-governed material world. But this simple overview of what we know subtlely exaggerates what we know. OK, choices do take place in our brains, and not without brains, but it's not as if consciousness has been fully explained and reduced to a specific physical property of brains. Consciousness is a huge unsolved puzzle. Since free choices are conscious choices, it would seem premature to say you were absolutely sure how they work.
Weird analogy (since I'm pre-coffee): suppose you think a river works deterministically, its direction and flow constantly determined by past events. You now learn that the river is conscious and experiences itself as making various decisions. Should you stick to your guns as far as determinism goes? I think you ought to slow down at least a little--what's going on to make the river conscious? And is that, whatever it is, relevant to whether the river flows deterministically? Until you're on top of consciousness, it seems only reasonable to be a little modest on the subject of free will.