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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In both evolutionary and culturally-learned behavioral perspectives, the feeling and consideration of "likely consequences of one's own behavior" makes perfect sense, especially in human societies, and often moreso if one experiences unexpected consequences or their behaviors (and thoughts, even!).

Adding supernatural causes and authorities to the explanation of such feelings is where ancient thinkers and societies (and Oprahs ans Chopras) jump the shark.

I see two definitions of karma applicable here:

  1. Supernatural karma. Wherein some unseen force rewards good people and punishes bad people
  2. Natural karma. Wherein if you treat people like shit, they naturally treat you likewise, and vice versa for good behaviour.

The first is, imo, as woo as believing in god or homoeopathy. The second is intuitively true.

how many atheists out there... ...dictate their lives with a consideration toward the idea of karma?

I don't consider it to be karma, but I generally try to be good to people. Not nice, necessarily, but fair in my dealings with them, and I expect the same in return.


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