Consciousness as an argument against determinism

I dislike determinism as a philosophy. It's not that I think the concept is meritless. To the contrary, cause and effect are how we view the world. It's how time is strung together to create physical existence. It's everything that life teaches us and the basis of science.

But I think determinism oversteps its scientific bounds and into the realm of philosophy and metaphysics by proclaiming itself to be universal when there is really no evidence to support that extrapolation. Determinism does not belong there. For example, using determinism to proclaim that free will is an illusion. This goes against the intuitive nature of consciousness, and it can only make this connection through the tenuous assumption that our consciousness is just another effect of our physical bodies' chemical reactions. There is a huge missing link there. The fact that our senses feed into our brain, and our brain's operation relates to our thoughts is correlation, not causation.

There is no obvious reason that being self-aware should be a requisite effect of the chemical processes of our brains. After all, robots and computers can be built using neural nets and pseudo-biological rules to influence their development and end up looking very much self-aware. On the other hand, if consciousness is just a physical phenomenon, then couldn't computers be conscious in their own inscrutable way? Or any system for that matter? It seems to me that taking sides on this debate is merely a matter of personal taste. There is no evidence either way, but for myself I believe our consciousness is linked to a deeper truth beyond our physical senses.

If we consider determinism objectively, we see that it is a relatively easy conclusion to swallow from direct worldly observation. But since are observations are obviously extremely limited, why should we allow them to be the end all of our beliefs? Some might say because there is no point in debating that which we can never know. Perhaps... but we don't know what we can know. Most scientific advances of the past century are all based on things we can't directly experience, but nevertheless learned to use through their effects.

I find it vaguely irritating to hear free will dismissed so easily on the basis of a flawed logical equation. Choice is intuitive. There is currently no way to prove or disprove free will, we all believe what we want to believe (or what we were destined to believe). Regardless, I don't think it is very scientific to dismiss outright anything outside the realm of physical causality. Real progress is never made through a closed mind.

I think it will be interesting to see where the field of quantum mechanics takes us.