Karma is an often used phrased in western culture that has its origin in eastern or Asian religions. Unfortunately, karma is not biblical, and is quite contradictory and incompatible with the existence of God.
In part 3, I am presenting two more problems with the doctrine of karma to show why it cannot exist without using any reference to God or the Bible. I will then show biblically the issues that karma creates in my next (final) post.
Problem #5) The Free Will Problem: When doing wrong, are people doing so voluntarily, or as a mechanism for other’s karma?
Karma presents a free will problem. Unless in the form of a natural disaster, much of the suffering we face is a consequence from the actions of others. So if someone causes us harm and we suffer, it must be because we “earned” this suffering due to past deeds we have done. Since this is the case, is the one who is causing us to suffer doing so out of their own choice, or because karma is making them pay us back?
If karma is making them pay us back, then karma restricts our free will. Let’s use the example of a terrorist to explain this dilemma.
In the attacks of 9/11, if karma were true, then those who died that day did so because their karma had it coming to them (meaning they “deserved” it). But if all those who died were destined to be killed that day because of their bad karma, then something had to happen in order for them to die. Can we then say that the terrorists who were flying the planes actually had no choice in the matter, but were “forced” to do so because of karma?
Karma indeed has to make us all wonder; if we are making a decision that will ultimately hurt someone else in any capacity, are we doing so out of our own free will? If not, then karma restricts our free will, and if we really have no choice in the matter, why are we even punished for our bad deeds at all?
Problem #6) The Justification Problem: If taken seriously, can we not blame everything on karma?
The doctrine of karma presents a very serious issue if believed, and that is that one can do any evil they so please, and claim that those affected simply deserved it. Karma teaches that it is not possible to suffer for no reason, we suffer because of our bad karma. So if someone wanted to steal $20 from a little old lady’s pursue, they could do so “knowing” that the lady’s bad karma caused for her to lose $20.
The same could be said for stealing someone’s identity and using their credit cards. Or stealing a car. Or committing murder.
In fact, it could be said that Adolf Hitler did nothing wrong. Millions were innocently killed under his regime, but he was simply doing the work of karma (this overlaps with the problem of free will). If karma were true, any evil deed could be justified as something that really is not bad at all.
When it comes down to it, karma says we all deserve what is coming to us. We need no government to enforce laws, karma will eventually take care of itself. If you want to believe in karma, you shouldn’t be upset by any evil or suffering because karma justifies it.
I do not mean to make light of any of these circumstances, they are serious issues. This is why karma is deeply problematic, anything anyone does can be easily justified as something that needed to happen. Therefore, according to karma, we should not try to right any wrong or prevent or reduce any suffering one may be going through.
*Problem #5 of this post is derived from Whitley R. P. Kaufman’s essay Karma, Rebirth, and the Problem of Evil