Karma is an afterlife substitute.
I am often surprised by the number of atheists I know who, when someone does them wrong, they say “karma will catch up with them.”
I thought part of being an atheist was abandoning the concept that the universe has some sense of “fair.” Existence isn’t fair. The guy who cut in front of you at the checkout line and made you miss your ten o’clock appointment did not just invoke the ire of an intangible force that demands punishment for crimes.
As much as we’d like to think so, there isn’t a set definition of right and wrong. Yes, killing and raping we can all agree are bad in any context, but the universe has no opinion on it. Karma is the kneejerk response of someone who wants to believe existence isn’t cold and impartial.
When you get down to it, karma is nothing but an alternative to heaven and hell.
“I’ll do good things because that means good things will come to me in turn.”
“He’s a jerk, but he’ll get what’s coming to him.”
The only difference which makes it slightly more tolerable is that it still keeps focus on this life rather than some fantasy afterworld.
Karma just sounds like petulant whining to me. Can you really only do good things because you think it’ll make good things happen for you? Do you really care if that guy who cut you off gets “what’s coming to him?” What does that matter? You don’t know his situation! Maybe his wife is going into labor! Move on and worry about your own life.
Given everyone’s varying perception of what’s right and wrong, it’s a bit selfish to believe your opinion is the grand authority on appropriate behavior. I don’t consider not holding a door open for someone behind you to be rude, but someone else might. Well whose side would karma take in that case?
Sometimes when I talk with someone I know to be overtly religious I’m hesitant to tell them about any problems in my life. There’s that ever lingering concern that they’ll say “Well, that’s what you get for turning your back on god,” and yes, I have had someone say that to me before. I wonder what they would have said if I had made the same complaints but wasn’t an atheist…
Actually no I don’t. It would have been “God has a plan.”
God has a plan, karma has a plan, those aliens in scientology have a plan. Fuck plans, man! No universal authority is going to shackle me down. It’s a free universe where bad and good can happen no matter what you do, and that’s fucking exciting.