Two experiences of freedom: Take “freedom” as the sense that the outcome of our actions is up to us and could be otherwise.
First, consider the feeling we get from standing in front of a set of options about something important and feeling that we could go either way and are without decisive reason(s) for choosing one path over the other. In such a condition, any need to decide is a cause of anxiety, and any analysis of the options comes to be experienced in the same way. Freedom in this sense is obviously no perfection. It is a dread that we beg and pray to be delivered from, and much of the edifice of religion is dedicated to removing it (from auguries to oracles to vocation discernment retreats). Any secular replacement for religion has to provide therapy for sort of freedom (punditry, gurus, appeals to “the latest scientific findings”). Growth in prudence is concomitant with minimizing this this sort of anxiety in the face of the contingent. Not only is such freedom not found in God but wisdom is more godlike to the extent that it is free of it. As someone who spends his whole professional life with students making decisions about their future I have to deal with this imperfect freedom daily.
Second, there is a freedom that we spend all of our pre-adult life trying to attain and much of our adult life trying to exercise, sc. to do what we enjoy or what we know we ought to do without the leave of others. This freedom is what we do if all onerous needs of the body and other obligations are taken care of. We experience it as children in amusements and parties but the experience matures into the exercise of talents or of the self-expression that consists in doing what we were made to do. Freedom in this sense is most of all characteristic of God and is the highest sort of perfection. Freedom in this sense “could be otherwise” because we recognize that we could be ignorant or fail to actualize the harmony between what is and what ought to be, or at least because recognize that this sort of freedom will manifest itself in ways that are different from our own.
Imagining free will as the ability to choose between alternative mistakes freedom (1) with freedom (2). Indeterminancy is a sort of ignorance, anxiety and dread that, by definition, is “resolved” by departure from reason – by coin flips or a blind “I guess so?” assertion of will. Placing God in front of these alternatives – in front of “possible worlds” in the sense of the condemnations of 1277 or Leibniz or Analytic philosophy – is to start from a misconception that will poison everything. It’s the equivalent of making God a dithering teenager on a vocation-discernment retreat or a scrupler wondering if she should go to communion.
Freedom (2) is largely uninterested and even non-cognizant of alternatives and cares only for the harmony of essence and self in operation, or of those parts of us that are ennobling and given with those that are in our control. We establish the maximal freedom (2) in God by the proofs of the identity of his essence and self.