Someone mentioned karma in a different discussion earlier today and that got me thinking - how many atheists out there believe in or dictate their lives with a consideration toward the idea of karma? 

Karma, as I understand it, is the idea that bad behavior begets bad experiences and good behavior begets good experiences.  However, I've heard the concept of karma described lots of different ways as well, so I'm curious, fellow atheists, what your definition for and opinion is of the concept of karma?

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The fact that karma says events happen to you automatically based on your previous actions suggests some sort of ethereal source. Therefore, I can not accept karma as being a viable belief for me personally. I'm quite suspicious of westerners adopting eastern religions as they inherently take beliefs in form of piecemeal, for example why all this talk about karma and not of dharma? Karma is convenient as opposed to dharma which is a rigid path of existence based largely on your position in the caste. Which takes me to my final point: many white Americans (westerners in general) seem to have found a recent affinity for Buddhism thus supporting a religion which was founded by a Hindu, Siddhartha (Buddha) was a polytheist! I fear that the fact many "atheists" pull ideas from eastern religions such as karma will cheapen the atheist movement. I don't need to be told that good things will happen to me based on my actions, I just simply want to do good by others, not for reward but simply because it's right! I don't believe my good actions are going to get me into some fictitious heaven or heal my dog's skin problems, or somehow have people magically like me, etc etc. Atheists should not adopt anything from religions, western, or eastern!
Haha, nice, however, the dog skin problem thing was meant to show how ridiculous karma can become. I'm going to "Larry's GIant Subs" here shortly, I should get a free sub because I was nice to a random guy yesterday. See how silly it can become?
That's pretty much why I posted the question. Someone said something about Karma and I realized that while I mention karma fairly regularly, I don't actually believe in karma and I'm not even thinking about what karma actually means when I casually talk about it or offhandedly reference it. I think a lot of people have something akin to this that they kind of half-assedly refer to in day to day conversation but when pressed, they don't actually believe in the idea they're perpetuating.

In short - thinking, good. Lazily referencing supernatural concept, bad. :)
rubbish....there's no karma. anyone accepting karma might as well believe in god....
I do not believe in dogma or karma. but I have people in my life who believe in both and I just let it go. My Pagan fiance goes by the "three fold law" of Wicca.
To me it's not so much a "balance the scales" thing, but I've noticed that one does, in fact, tend to reap what one has sown.

Perhaps we should also discuss the idea that karma is just a primitive way of accepting the actual determinism of the universe: What you do has effects which happen inexorably. So, in other words, if karma is real, then that is one more blow against the mistaken notion of free will.

I do not believe that "karma" exists. I think that everything that we experience has a partial degree of randomness to it. Sure, there are certain things we can more or less control once we pick up particular patterns of randomness. However, when something bad happens, it is because we interpret it as "good" or "bad". What I am getting at is, you did not likely stub your toe because you cut someone off in a traffic jam last week. On the other hand, you did not win the lottery because you were nice yesterday and let everyone on a busy highway merge into your lane. You stubbed your toe and won the lottery because they were random events. Society has decided that one of these events is "good" while the other is "bad". Next time you have dice, role them. Let's say, every time you role a 1,2 equate that with "negative" or "bad". Every time you role a 3,4 equate that with "good". Finally, every time you role a 5,6 that is "neutral". Role this dice 100 times, and record your results. You will see that there is total randomness. If you act well, or poorly, it will not make a difference. You may have social issues, but as far as the issues you have no control over are concerned, karma is man-made. It was created to place boundaries on society and try to discourage poor behaviour.

What did a baby with brain cancer possibly do to deserve that? Karma is nonsense.

good point. We can also flip this. Look at the North Korean leader. Fat and pampered while all of his "people"are suffering. Although many would consider him to be evil, he still got to enjoy this lavish life of his.


No evidence anywhere that karma exists (and some evidence it doesnt (at least for those who believe it occurs only during the life span as a humabon Earth). Its hard to imagine why a small child should be subjected to abuse, starvation or a slow death by HIV...or someone forced into lifelong degrading servitude.

Kibd of karmas

Karma means different things in different religion. Taoist karma is closest to what westerners think of karma (the ways of nature balance the light and the dark) though its still not a "what you do comes back to you". Some bhuddist schools have a weaker version of Karma (more of a middle path is best than a balance sheet of deeds and consequences) but it is spread over mantly lifetimes with the objective of reaching or getting as close as possible to transcending the cycle. In Hinduism karma is not what westerner think of as karma but is a."your way" or "your deeds" and doesnt infer that youll get whats coming to you but is instead part of a six fold set of individual actions including dharma etc that leads to good things.

Psychological and enviromental consequences

While I agree that one can create their own hell by questionable actions (retribution, guilt, decline into a criminal violent world, toxic mental habits) has nothing to do with physics nor nature (beyond human psychology) nor the universe. People do terrible thigs and suffer depression and shame and hate and loss. Few escape at least some of these problems. Yet some people do horrible things yet avoid a personal hell and one can do mostly praiseworthy deeds yet still suffer immensely.

Does any karma exist?



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