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.
I thought for a long time about what I was going to say on this topic, but you know what I realized? No one gives a shit about what I think about the afterlife.
Everyone is territorial of their view of the afterlife. Humans are the only species who realize death is inevitable, and that’s a scary thing to come to terms with. Afterlife is that solace you create to make it seem not so terrible. We are all vain creatures, we want to believe that some part of us will live on for all eternity, and we want it to be the best form of existence possible.