How do the ideas of karma and reincarnation compare with biblical and Judaeo-Christian answers to the perennial questions “Why is there evil and suffering?” and “Why does life seem unfair?”...

How do the ideas of karma and reincarnation compare with biblical and Judaeo-Christian answers to the perennial questions “Why is there evil and suffering?” and “Why does life seem unfair?” Which answers to these questions make the most sense to you and why?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, this assignment seems intended to prompt you to explore your own personal faith tradition and sense of the relationship between justice and the divine. While an educator can present the historical differences between the two religious traditions, you are the only person who can discuss your personal faith.

The problem you present is one of what theologians call "theodicy," also known as the problem of divine justice. It is grounded in a paradox. Religions normally assume some sort of just, benevolent, wise principle on which the universe is grounded, and yet our world seems filled with evil, suffering, and injustice. There are roughly three types of religious theories to account for this:

  • Dualist and some polytheistic accounts assume there are both good and evil gods and that bad things happen because of the evil gods.
  • Some religions assume apparent injustice is due to our limited understanding and that all suffering is, from a divine perspective, deserved.
  • Suffering in this world will be rewarded by something positive after death.

Both Judaeo-Christian and eastern (Buddhist/ Hindu) religions combine the second and third of these ideas. The Judaeo-Christian tradition assumes human suffering is deserved because of Original Sin; karma presumes we bring suffering on ourselves by evil acts in past lives. In both religions, those who act in a morally good fashion may suffer in this world but are rewarded after their deaths through Heaven (Judaeo-Christian) or an escape from the cycle of reincarnation (Hinduism/ Buddhism).