This is an article, (hopefully) part of a series in which I try to explain to various theists, why – even if their beliefs were real, they would still be bad.
This one is about karma.
The core idea of karma is a fictional idea of causality in which good is rewarded with good and bad is rewarded with bad, sometimes with the help of a supernatural stimulus.
I’m a scientific determinist, in the way that I believe every fixed set of circumstances will lead to their inevitable, logical conclusion. I believe that the only extent to which people control their actions is through their limited reasoning abilities often dominated by human impulses. More to the point, I believe that criminals never had a choice whether or not to be criminals since it was never their choice to be born how they were born, never their choice to be raised how they were raised, never their choice to have the experiences that eventually led to their crime.
People aren’t born bad or good, they simply lead experiences that cause them to eventually do bad things, and when you get down to it – its not their fault. And their consciousness shouldn’t be punished for being born a bad person.
Of course I’m not saying that criminals should just get away with crimes, but it is my firm belief that if a god truly wanted society to be better, instead of punishing people for their crimes they should simply prevent criminals by giving them enough reason not to commit crime, such as providing them with a better living, a more satisfactory life and perhaps a stable mentality. You wouldn’t have to punish a crime if it wasn’t there to begin with. Of course I don’t have an easy way of persuading a would-be criminal, but then again I do not possess the almightiness of an actual god for whom it should be a cakewalk.
Now in the case of Karma, the bigger your crime is the harder your life becomes and the less you are able to repent, therefore the more upset you become and the more criminal tendencies you present. Whereas in the case of “good” people, the better off you are then the happier you are then the more you are rewarded, and its the story of capitalism all over again: the good get better till the poor get worse, until the good (therefore rich) become too greedy (because human nature, meh) and end up in hell (which at least in my understanding of Buddhism does exist). This cycle keeps repeating itself, and makes Karma seem that- like all religious justice systems, seems solely bent on sending souls to hell.
Now, sometimes I do see asshole characters around me, and for a brief moment I forget my preventative justice ideology and really wish that these assholes get what’s coming to them.
The thing about actual causality, is that all actions have reactions and consequences, however the consequences just are. Bad deeds usually have bad consequences for completely logical reasons, the primary one being that deception usually doesn’t work very well because the truth is a very obvious thing. For every single piece of falsified information you think of, there are a million more that you didn’t just waiting for your everyday Sherlock Holmes to crack like an eggshell. Fact of knowing that you did a bad thing alone can cause shame, which gives away guilt and can lead to the eventual justice. However a completely intelligent crime doesn’t just have no suspects, its engineered in a way that the crime doesn’t exist, and in some cases Karma just simply is not served.
Yet most assholes that are openly asshole aren’t very intelligent. Sooner or later their assholeness comes back to bite them in the asshole, but I suppose we usually won’t be around when the time comes and won’t get the pleasure of watching him suffer. However, anyone with a hint of compassion (such as some Christians claim they are) would tell you that they would rather their enemies “turn good” than suffer.
And society is getting to the point that while major crimes (eg. terrorism) are still not out of everyone’s minds, the world is actually becoming safer and safer, thanks to advanced police technology, the free flowing of information on the internet ensuring a criminal can’t stay in one place too long as well as general progression in society that is increasingly trying its best to prevent crime and rehabilitate criminals instead of murdering the suspect in hatred and vengeance because they are “bad people”.