The perpetual blind spot that gives us the impression that we are separate from the rest of creation also may have fostered the belief that we are in control, not only of our environment but also of ourselves. Debate regarding the truth of this belief used to be primarily a religious matter, known as the “free will/determinism” argument. Disagreement centered on the amount of freedom the Creator had given us to act, or more specifically to sin or not to sin.
Back when most of Western civilization believed that God was in control of our lives, we often assumed that He could be bribed with a few good deeds or contrite supplications, which left us some degree of choice over our destiny. However, in the twentieth century, science has investigated the free will/determinism question by taking a close look at the biological and psychological makeup of the individual. As the ancient saying goes, self-knowledge is usually bad news.
– from Crazy Wisdom: a provocative romp through the philosophies of East and West by Wes “Scoop” Nisker