I’ve been doing some reading and thinking about this question, but I haven’t found an answer that satisfies my intuitions or the evidence presented to me. I do believe in a deterministic world. To a degree, we can determine the outcome of many situations we observe, be they subatomic or social. By to a degree, I mean we have a good idea which outcomes are how probable, and how good or bad it can possibly get. And we can interfere in the processes, manipulate them to favor a possible result. But the fact that we can manipulate our environment and its processes suggests that we do have the ability to shape our fate.
This sounds simple enough. But this is actually where things get complicated and confusing. The primary contemporary issue here is the question, what our desire to manipulate our environment comes from. And since we aren’t only the manipulators, but also the manipulated, we are also subject to the will of others, who in turn act out needs and desires which arise from biochemical processes in their brains, and other parts of the body. The interconnectedness of virtually everything is like a gordic knot, and we are still awaiting a bold man with a mind sharp enough to cut through it. Of course, when I say man, it may also be a woman. I wrote man for simplicities sake, and because I hope, contrary to all evidence, that I might be said man. I digress.
One piece of evidence against me being said man is the entire uncertainty issue. We don’t know everything about science, that is certain. Will we ever know everything about science? Is there an end to science at all? Is science everything? If the ultimate science is impossible, and/or insufficient, there might not ever be a satisfying answer.
Unless it really is 42, and we’ve just not asked the right question.