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Why I reject karma and reincarnation, as illogical and nonsensical


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There is no such thing as karma, only cause and effect.

 

What I mean is that people who enjoy doing bad things to others will not necessarily get what is coming to them.

 

If someone becomes a drug addict and dies of drug overdose, it's because the drugs were bad for their body to begin with, not because of some cosmic force that cares about what people do or sees humans as being special.

 

Millions of innocent people die every year of disease and starvation, so was that karma too?

 

Morality is just an artificial construct to keep order in society and in the grand scheme of things humans doing bad things to each other has no more meaning than a bear eating a deer for food.

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Why I reject karma and reincarnation I believe the religious idea of Karma and Reincarnation are illogical and nonsensical and l list my objections this belief below. 1) Karma is the belief that

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There is no such thing as karma, only cause and effect.

 

What I mean is that people who enjoy doing bad things to others will not necessarily get what is coming to them.

 

If someone becomes a drug addict and dies of drug overdose, it's because the drugs were bad for their body to begin with, not because of some cosmic force that cares about what people do or sees humans as being special.

 

Millions of innocent people die every year of disease and starvation, so was that karma too?

 

Morality is just an artificial construct to keep order in society and in the grand scheme of things humans doing bad things to each other has no more meaning than a bear eating a deer for food.

Karma is cause and effect. And of course, karma is much more subtle than, you kill someone, something bad happens to you. Sure, nothing bad might not happen to you now or this life, but karma is tied into reincarnation, and something will happen out of you in your next life that is not explained. I hope the last point also answers your thing about millions of people die from starvation. They might of not have done anything wrong in this life and seem to be innocent, but they might have done something their last life. They also might have done absolutely nothing wrong in their total existence, and be learning some lesson or something. It's really complicated, and I suggest you do a little research before you say such an ignorant blanket statement.

 

And your point on morality is also true, but humans like to have a reason to be good, it a religious, spiritual, or political reason. We like to explain things, and karma is one of the many ways we explain whats happening to us. How do you explain your goodness? ( I half assume you are a nice person ;) )

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Alan,

 

Another objection, something that seems illogical to me, about the reincarnation idea, is that it requires an identity of a certain size, that is not consistent or logical.

 

It assumes that a soul is exactly one human being big. If you are good, you come back as a comfortable, pleasant human, and if you are bad you come back as a suffering, unpleasant one, or a sewer rat. I am not sure how you fit a human soul into a rat, or if, according to reincarnation principles you would come back as a bee, or the whole hive.

 

There seems to be, to me, a collective consciousness that develops when people get together. Lovers, friends, cub scouts, family, schools, teams, companies, towns, states, nations, churches, clubs, and organizations of all types. Even talkboards have a personality, and a "soul" made up of the thoughts, actions, words, emotions and the energies and desires of their members and the rules and logistics by which they operate and exist.

 

According to reincarnation theory, can you die, and come back as a new talkboard, nation, club, species, planet system, molecule, ecosystem, tree, forest or continent? Why exactly is there any logical reason why you should have been only of "one human" size in your previous existence and of any particular size in your next incarnation?

 

Reincarnation presupposes that you are responsible only for yourself. I don't think this makes any logical sense. Not when it is so evident that when you go down it takes the team down a notch, and when you go up, it takes the team up a notch.

 

I think soul or Karma exists and one experiences it when in a room full of people all thinking about the same individual, or thinking about the same project in the meeting, or thinking about the same nation at the war memorial, or in the halls of the capitol building. But spirit and soul and karma does not come only in individual sized servings.

 

Regards, TAR


Thread,

 

Concurrent with the size objection is a number objection. Can two souls inhabit one body? Or can one soul inhabit 8? Would all 8 have to be born the same instant? On the same continent? In the same town? Which opens up other logistical questions, like what are the timing rules of the transfer from the dying body to the new one, and does a body get its soul at conception, or birth? What contains the soul during the trip from when it leaves the previous and enters the next? If a woman is born with a full compliment of eggs, does each one contain a half soul? Does a drop of sperm contain thousands of half souls? Are the sperm that do not fertilize an egg, representative of a badly lived, previous life?

 

Regards, TAR

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Tar - I think you have hit on the problem of reincarnation. It doesn't work. The Buddhist idea of rebirth is not reincarnation, and Karma does not require reincarnation but something very different.

 

As lightmeow has said, these issues are complex. It would be vital to distinguish between reincarnation and rebirth for some understanding of the mechanisms of karma.

 

It would be just cause and effect, no divine agency required. One key aspect is that on our death what remains would be entirely subject to blind causal forces, no freewill or agency would be involved. Only while we are alive can we improve our situation. It would be a kind of purification process, like an industrial production process with an automatic rejection and recycling of faulty goods.

 

As for evidence, it is ambiguous. I have been able to establish a sound logical basis and supporting argument for Buddhist teachings in all areas except this one. Karma seems a little like a 'lemma'. But it seems to be the most minimal mechanism for making some sense of the idea of progress towards 'heaven' and away from this mortal coil. That is, of theories that endorse a continuation that transcends life and death this one seems to be the most parsimonious.

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Karma simply doesn't exist in my opinion and neither does God.

 

My mother always tells me that there is no evidence for the existence of any loving God.

 

There is too much evil in this world for Karma or a loving God to exist.

 

Karma as a corrective force cannot exist because bad people never get punished for doing bad things to other people.

Karma cannot exist because people who enjoy doing bad things to others never get punished for what they are doing while people who do good things to others are having bad things happening to them all the time.

 

Good people are having very bad luck while bad people are having very good luck.

 

Some of the nastiest people I know from high school are now having very good lives and have everything going for them while good people like me are having bad things and bad luck happen to them all the time.

 

There is no justice in this world so Karma cannot exist as well as a loving God.

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Karma simply doesn't exist in my opinion and neither does God.

 

My mother always tells me that there is no evidence for the existence of any loving God.

 

There is too much evil in this world for Karma or a loving God to exist.

 

Karma as a corrective force cannot exist because bad people never get punished for doing bad things to other people.

Karma cannot exist because people who enjoy doing bad things to others never get punished for what they are doing while people who do good things to others are having bad things happening to them all the time.

 

Good people are having very bad luck while bad people are having very good luck.

 

Some of the nastiest people I know from high school are now having very good lives and have everything going for them while good people like me are having bad things and bad luck happen to them all the time.

 

There is no justice in this world so Karma cannot exist as well as a loving God.

 

I don't think you can say that "people who enjoy doing bad things to others never get punished". It happens often, within statistical parameters, according to the local laws and mores.

 

Luck ends up also within statistical parameters. Things happen to people and there are usually many variables, all quantifiable, no need for any supernatural influence.

 

If you don't believe in Karma or God, then you should also stop believing in luck and a complete lack of justice. If you don't believe in Karma or God, believe that there are humans who share your sense of justice and fair play, your love of goodness and compassion. Don't paint all of humanity with such broad brushstrokes, and you'll find a decent mix of decent people within a decent range of where you live. Within statistical parameters, of course.

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Karma is not a simple mechanism. Hell, even physical causation is not a simple mechanism. Opponents of karma here seem to share a lack of interest in finding our what the theory actually states. It is actually very difficult to discern this, since it requires a grasp of the wider cosmology within which the theory of karma sits. Karma only makes sense in the context of nodualism. It makes no sense within ordinary theism.

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The whole point of Karma/hell is a construct of those that understand the value of contentment; the enlightened have no need of god, heaven or karma, they don’t need to believe because they are at peace with themselves.

 

If you can’t forgive (you have my sympathy), then you really don’t understand and that construct delivers peace and prevents the extremes revenge inevitably brings.

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Thread,

 

 

Well, as Phi said. We do punish people for doing bad stuff.

 

I say this, in regard to this thread, because people have a tendency to forget that "we" are part of the objective reality of any first person you might consider.

 

In the theist, or loving God, or ultimate judge notions and beliefs, the individual makes a pact, has an understanding, with an individual with ultimate power, judgment and control. This God however is not the personal property of the individual, or logically such a peice of personal property, could not be actually the entity with which you made the pact. Thus thoughts that the whole of the universe is responsive to your thoughts, actions and motives is false...except to the extent that objective reality DOES respond and put you in jail for crimes against it, and on a pedestal, for helpful efforts.

 

The garden grows when you plan and prepare and tend it. It does not exist if you do not plant it and water it and protect it. And if one does exist, the destroyer of it, the trampler, the unrooter, has caused the thing not to provide food.

 

The good Karma, is when you are creating, present, and tending. The bad Karma is when you are destroying, absent, and hateful.

 

It has nothing to do with a pretend individual judge. It has everything to do with your individual judgment and attitude toward the world, toward objective reality.

 

Are you taking care of it, helping it, working in concert with it? Or are you at odds with it, blocking and complaining, hurting and detracting?

 

Karma is, in its simplist form "what goes around, comes around". It is not the blessing or denial of blessing of lady luck, or Brahman, or the boogie man. It is the real fact, that the world is connected, and every subject is everybody else's object. You do bad stuff and it's liable to come back and hurt you. You do good stuff, and its liable to make things nicer for everyone.

 

In fact that is probably the difference between good and bad. What you judge as helpful and pleasing is good. What you judge as hurtful and painful is bad.

 

 

So Karma makes complete sense, with no magic or pretend individuals required.

 

Regards, TAR

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Yep. No magic or pretend individuals. Just the operation of the universe. As ye sow so shall ye reap. No judgemental God required. Karma depends on the whole thing being on autopilot.

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PeterJ,

 

Autopilot? Seems to me, more like manual control. Autopilot suggest that there is an automatic thing going on beyond your control. There is an awful lot, that goes on way beyond a person's control...but it is interesting to note that it might be under someone else's control instead. Perhaps this aspect of the topic of Karma and reincarnation, is a more specific discussion of fate, or free choice, but it is probably an important aspect, because there is a difference in attitude, between people who think their thoughts, judgments and actions matter, and those who think they don't matter because they are insignificant, or because the place is already operating under someone else's control, and they have nothing to say about it.

 

In this, a pact with the creator of the universe is not really a bad idea. Knowing you are just a tiny peice of universe material, but a peice of neither more nor less importance than any other peice, gives one an ownership, or friendship with the whole collection. A responsibility to the whole, because it is just exactly you, multiplied by a zillion, and has been happening for billions of years, and will happen for billions more, and is spread out over growing distances it would take light more time than there has been, to transverse. Having this pact, with what is essentially yourself, is not a false thing.

 

The universe is not on autopilot, it just pilots itself, in manual. The quarks act like good quarks, the planets act like good satelites, the birds and bees act like good birds and bees, the rivers flow like good rivers and people act like good people...unless they have some bad karma to spread. :)

 

Regards, TAR


for instance a cell in your body lives and dies, and while alive does a good job of metabolizing, or passing a signal, or manufacturing a chemical or of being a structural item or a containing item or a muscle cell, or whatever...there is no real logical breakpoint to decide you are separate from these good cells, doing their job...it is easier to see that one whole human being is a collection of these many good souls...

 

Someone earlier, maybe you, said something about breaking the mortal coils. I am thinking that is a useful thought, to live on a level where you become an object, even to yourself, but I think, for it to be real and valuable, you have to love the mortal coils, not seek to break them...but here is another logical objection I have to reincarnation. It assumes "the ghost in the machine" which puts the mortal coils on some impersonal, dumb, unrequired level, and promotes the soul, to something separate from the material universe. This makes no sense to me. How can you have an emergent thing like a hurricane, without water and pressure, and air. You need the mortal coils, or you simply are nothing but a thought, or spirit, or ghost. A pilot without a ship will not get anywhere.

 

If "you" die, and inhabit another person, it won't be you, it will be the other person. What logical sense does that make? What happened to the other guy? Either way?

 

Reminds me of my objection to the thought "I could have been born rich" or "I could have been born poor and oppressed." NO you couldn't have been. If the birth situation of a different person than yourself, is being considered, then its a different person than you, being considered. If it was you being considered, then the situation you were born into would be exactly the one into which you were born. You need your parent's to be exactly your parents from exactly the genes and experiences and locations that were their's inorder for you to be you. Otherwise, you would have somebody elses parents/history/location, and it would not be you.

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Tar - As usual I find what you say well thought out but slightly adrift from my perspective. For a start let's agree about reincarnation. It doesn't work.

 

As for the rest I'm not quite sure exactly what you're saying but it seems sensible. Note, however, that this idea that we are just puny mortals is the very opposite of the nondual or 'perennial' view, i.e. the view that endorses karma. Karma will not work without the rest of the package.

 

Karma simply is cause and effect so 'auto-pilot' would be a fair metaphor. The crucial issue would be that it includes mental causation, thus conditioning and habit of thought. Thus to transcend karma would be possible and this is the goal of the mystic. In Christianity this would be the 'Atonement' or the healing of our separation from Reality.

 

The relevant point would be that the theory of karma cannot be separated from the general theory in which it sits. Hence I believe that it is not much use thinking about it much prior to researching the metaphysical basis of the wider theory.

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Karma simply doesn't exist in my opinion and neither does God.

 

My mother always tells me that there is no evidence for the existence of any loving God.

 

There is too much evil in this world for Karma or a loving God to exist.

 

Karma as a corrective force cannot exist because bad people never get punished for doing bad things to other people.

Karma cannot exist because people who enjoy doing bad things to others never get punished for what they are doing while people who do good things to others are having bad things happening to them all the time.

 

Good people are having very bad luck while bad people are having very good luck.

 

Some of the nastiest people I know from high school are now having very good lives and have everything going for them while good people like me are having bad things and bad luck happen to them all the time.

 

There is no justice in this world so Karma cannot exist as well as a loving God.

 

You are wrong about Almighty God!! He exist period.

 

As far as karma and reincarnation, how the heck do believers explain Hitler.

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You are wrong about Almighty God!! He exist period.

 

As far as karma and reincarnation, how the heck do believers explain Hitler.

 

 

 

Reincarnation is unnecessary for karma to work; do you really think Hitler’s life was without suffering?

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As far as karma and reincarnation, how the heck do believers explain Hitler.

 

One in several tens of billions of humans?

 

 

You are wrong about Almighty God!! He exist period.

 

That's a rather disgusting way of putting it, imo. For a forum dedicated to discussion, that is. Fits right in with some of the preachy sites I try to avoid, though.

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To see Hitler as inexplicable in terms of karma is to fail to understand the whole idea. Karma would be a painfully naïve idea if it couldn't even explain a human being. Karma does not entail the passage of our ego from one life to the next. It is more common that the sages use words like 'impressions'. It is also impossible to know whether Hitler's life was an outcome of good or bad karma. It would all depend on his trajectory. Also, karma allows for happenstance. It is our experience of existence that it would determine, not all the details, which would be largely down to blind luck and material causation.

 

I'm afraid I have to agree with Phi that stating that God exists is not helpful. Fair enough to note that this is your opinion.

 

In my opinion it would be naïve to imagine that the Ultimate Phenomenon must obey the existence/non-existence contradiction, regardless of whether we call it God. It would be this naïve idea that stands between us and a solution for origins. Cosmology needs this idea and cannot succeed without it. This is not another dogmatic 'God exists' statement, but logically demonstrable.

 

If we stick to what is demonstrable in logic or by empiricism then we can't go far wrong. Trouble is folks tend to ignore one or the other.

 

I'm not going to say a lot more ( I hope) since my views are expressed better elsewhere. But I would urge you not to dismiss karma as nonsense until you have understood the philosophical foundation on which it rests. Otherwise it will be misunderstood and utterly implausible. It is a highly difficult issue about which even Buddhists may disagree when it comes to the details.

 

We can at least state that karma requires no breaches of the laws of causation but, rather, insists that there never can be one. So, it is perfectly consistent with naturalism and determinism while being perfectly inconsistent with materialism and most forms of theism. This reflects just how subtle an issue it is.

 

It is worth noting that for the Jesus of A Course in Miracles, 'Choice is meaningless'. This would be the 'nondual' view, or way of explaining the universe.

 

So, we have to reconcile the laws of karma with an absence of freewill. Good luck. When we have done this we will be finally getting to grips with what the theory actually states.

Edited by PeterJ
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Fair enough Alan. In my opinion ACIM is authoritative. We don't have to argue about it.

 

I didn't understand the word 'disgusting' either, but I don't think stating our opinions as facts helps much in a philosophy discussion.

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(Am I disgusting for believing in Almighty God?)

 

I used the word disgusting not to describe your belief (obvious Strawman), but to describe the intellectual practice of engaging in discussion about a subject when you have absolutely no intention of allowing any rational thoughts from that discussion to affect what you believe. Appalling and purposeless are other good words, and there are lots of them, but I chose disgusting because of the brief ignorance contained in the words "He exist [sic] period".

 

That's not part of a conversation. That's part of a sermon.

 

I find that kind of close-mindedness disgusting on a science site.

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PeterJ,

 

If Karma is based on no free will, that destroys the purpose of the teaching, to cause one to attempt to be good. If you can not choose to "progress", then what is the point?

 

At least, with an understanding that free will is operationally true, one can take the teachings of Karma and reincarnation, as figurative guidance. Without free will however, "being good" has no meaning.

 

Regards, TAR

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Yes, well, this is why it's a difficult idea to grasp. You use the phrase 'operationally true' and it's a good one. Freewill would be operationally true but metaphysically meaningless. This would be one of the hardest aspects of mysticism to get to grips with. Perhaps googling 'Wu Wei' or 'non-action' as it appears in Taoism might turn up some explanations. It is a view that reduces the freewill-determinism contradiction.

 

Even in western philosophy 'compatatibilism' is the most popular solution for freewill, and this would be a form of compatabilism.

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