Following up on my previous post about evil, I want to talk a little bit more about the idea of karma.
...I don't believe in karma.
Strictly speaking, karma doesn't kick in until after you die. If you have good karma, you get reincarnated as something good, like an eagle. If you have bad karma, you get reincarnated as a worm or something.
Karma (or a similar process) is a necessary part of reincarnation.
...I don't believe in reincarnation, either.
The thing about reincarnation is that it goes on forever. It never ends. You just keep getting reborn and reborn and reborn. The problem with this mindset is that the world doesn't go on forever. Time is not like a circle that has no beginning or end. It is more like a banana peel. That is, time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.
St. Thomas argues that the world has a definite starting point. Today, we call this "The Big Bang". There's a specific point in time where everything came into being. So, the world hasn't been in existence forever, and it won't remain in existence forever. It has a starting point, and there's going to be an ending point too. Take that, Plato!
That's the main reason I don't believe in karma. It presupposes reincarnation, which presupposes the world existing forever, and the world won't exist forever.
The other reason I don't believe in karma is because post-life punishment is fair, but pre-life punishment isn't. I can't control who I was in my past life, so it seems grossly unfair that I would be punished/rewarded for what happened in my past life. It's like punishing me for something I didn't do.
So, karma is out for me. I can't use karma to justify the fact that evil is its own punishment. Why is evil its own punishement then?
I have an inkling that it might have something to do with the nature of evil. That is, perhaps punishment naturally flows from evil. Earlier, I talked about a greedy person who steals from others. Let me see what punishments naturally result as a consequence of that evil action...
1. By doing evil, the greedy man destroys his good character, which is a dreadful loss. Accordingly, people will begin to distance themselves from him.
2. The greedy man is doomed to be disappointed and unhappy as a result of his actions. This is because greed is never satiated, and because true happiness cannot be found in material possessions. As long as the greedy man seeks to gain material possessions, he will be forever disappointed.
3. The greedy man will be punished by his conscience for having done evil.
4. The greedy man tends to become paranoid. That is, he becomes afraid that someone will steal his possessions, in the same way he stole the possessions of others. He also becomes paranoid that he will be punished for his evil actions.
5. The greedy man sets a dangerous precedent. As said earlier, greed is never satiated. The greedy man is in danger of become more and more greedy, until he reaches the inevitable end point of all evil: self-destruction.
I think a general principle I can pull from this specific example is "evil is its own punishment because it is self-destructive"; the one who does evil harms himself as well as others. Evil, when left unchecked, gets more and more self-destructive, to the point that it destroys itself. This is why Edmund Burke says that in order to destroy evil, the good man has to do...nothing. Just sit and wait, and eventually, evil will destroy itself because it's self-destructive.
Of course, Mr. Burke's plan to eradicate evil is ill-advised, because although evil will eventually destroy itself when left unchecked, it will also destroy many good things along the way. Eddie had a good insight into the nature of evil, but I don't recommend doing nothing in the face of evil.
Hmmm...I have a lot more I want to say about evil, but this blog post is getting long enough as it is. I'll save my other thoughts for later.