Andrewmarkmusic: decoding the headlines
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We’ll venture into some thorny spiritual ground in this one. Spiritual crime and punishment? An idea  I don’t find inherently irrational–although one likely has to concede certain metaphysical propositions to take seriously. I find the idea of karma far less repulsive than one strike and you’re out and tortured forever doctrines–and this brutality done on the command of an all-loving God. Unfortunately, from my Christian Gnostic perspective, this is as good as it gets on this issue…

Let’s start here with an overview of theodicy from the Vedic perspective. The Vedic traditions don’t share the same presuppositions on Gods nature that the western theological traditions do–that an all-knowing, all-good God (and loving) is consistent with why evil exists. That aside, we have to take a look at the root of the idea which can be broken down to cause and effect concepts. And this is where we run into trouble! It’s true that here in our existence this concept is real, can be demonstrated, and is accepted scientifically. If there is a baseball in the Grandstand 420-feet away from home plate and people are cheering we can safely deduce the cause of the euphoria: someone hit a home run! Simple enough. Not so much, though, when it comes to metaphysics! For the idea of spiritual karma to be true one would need some way to verify the cause and there’s simply no way to do this within this field of inquiry.

Let me say that I’m sympathetic to the idea on a basic level so this critique isn’t coming from a biased religious position I hold–say, that of a fundamentalist Muslim analyzing Hindu doctrine for imperialistic antimony. And, by the way, did you know that hundreds and millions of Hindus died at the hands of Islamic imperialism over the millennia? One of the more dreadful genocides in human history and I have a certain regard for the resiliency of the Hindu people. But I digress. The doctrine of karma, however, and it’s associated reincarnation philosophies are not tenable once analyzed and deconstructed via reason and logic. I would grant that the Vedas espouse a wonderful yet unprovable cosmology and it could be right to marvel at its imaginative cosmology, but one should also be highly skeptical of metaphysical claims which have no corresponding associations here in the physical world.

My primary critique is how these ideas were instantiated into Hindu culture and affected the socio-economic order. This was a grave error. To have social systems predicated upon unprovable metaphysical claims is snake-oil sociology: whether the caste system, the law of attraction, Calvinist predestination, or prosperity gospels within the evangelical churches–SNAKE-OIL–all of it!

But let’s get back to why karma doesn’t solve the problem of evil. This is an excellent paper by Whitley Kaufman who sums up many of the critiques I’ve mentioned throughout the years on this site. What kind of university wipes your memory on the first day of school? Karmic theory creates an infinite regress. The karmic theory doesn’t address death itself which is a rather large omission when it comes to explaining evil. Karma doesn’t resolve the conflicts between free will and determinism. The total inability to falsify any claim within this field of inquiry; let alone demonstrate such a thing as a soul.

I’ll get into the Christian Gnostic perspective on theodicy as this series continues but next up will be deconstructing Buddhist cosmologies.

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