Do we understand enough about the Karma theory that it can be accurately defined so that if someone wanted to refute the theory, they can provide evidence to disprove it?

In other words, is the Karma theory falsifiable?

For example, let's say Person A belongs to the Flat Earth Society and Person B subscribes to the Round or Spherical Earth theory. If A wants to refute the Round Earth theory, B can suggest a couple of tests for A to perform. One of those tests could be to sail a ship with a red beacon on it, on the open sea, in the night, towards the horizon, for about 50 km and check if the beacon is still visible to anyone standing on the roof of a 100 meter tall building located on the beach from where the ship set sail.

Can a person who believes the Karma theory to be a fact, come up with a test like this?

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    – Pandya
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 1:20
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    By giving an empirical example that can be tested using scientific methodology, you're asking if there is a similar empirical scientific methodology to 'prove' the theory of karma.. the theory of karma is a religious and philosophical assertion. It can be 'proved' using philosophical arguments BUT it cannot be 'proved' - as most philosophical arguments cannot be 'proved' - by empirical methodologies. There are anecdotal statements by individuals that have had memories of their immediate past life and upon inquiry have been found to be true. Your question amounts to scientific speculation. Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 4:26
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    Karma theory is the ultimate truth just like how we need to breath oxygen is the truth. This has been explained by all rushis, and in later years various acharyas like Shankracharyaji etc. Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 15:31
  • @SwamiVishwananda Are you saying Karma theory is not falsifiable? Maybe you can expand your comment into an answer. Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 22:40
  • @SwamiVishwananda "Your question amounts to scientific speculation." - Had I asked what is the scientific proof of Karma theory? then that leads to scientific speculation but that's not what I asked. What I asked is the following. Assume you don't believe in jyotisha/astrology and the many Hindu superstitions. Now if a group of people stand before you and testify with their anecdotal evidences, do you change your mind about those things? If your answer is no, the group may ask you, what evidence will change your mind? This is what I'm asking. Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 22:43

1 Answer 1


Karma theory is Not falsifiable.

In nutshell, this theory is the Golden rule, which exists in all major cultures/religions. Already discussed here, so not quoting verses again:
What all Hindu scriptures advocate The Golden Rule? And what is the oldest Hindu scripture to advocate it?

However if an experiment is conducted by performing good/bad deed to see if equivalent good/bad returns, then it may not give consistent results for all beings. Because we don't know that at which state of Karma are they from their previous deeds. Hence we have to take overall experiences & studies of all culture as reference point.

On the other hand, at absolute level, due to "predetermined nature of events", Karma theory itself is moot to discuss. Since a Karma is predetermined, it's of no use to have a theory around it. See my answer below:
According to Dvaita philosophy , is Parmatma involved in Karma?

BG 5.14 - Neither "Doership" (Kartutva) nor "Actions" (Karma) nor "Reactions" (result of Karma) of the people are created by the Omnipotent; But only their nature [3 modes] pervades.

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    I think the Golden rule is just a suggestion on how to lead a good life, unlike Karma theory it doesn't guarantee if you do a favor to someone you'll have the favor returned. E.g., if you fulfill a wish of dying man, he won't be in a position to return the favor at a later point. Whereas Karma sort of guarantees the favor will be returned in the next life or the one after that. Now there is no empirical evidence of an afterlife, so again we rely on scripture to say it's true. When we have a lot of competing unfalsifiable theories out there, how do we determine which is the real truth?! Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 23:17
  • @sv. Wiki article of Golden rule is quite same as Karma theory. In other words, Golden rule is an outcome/advice out of Karma theory. Now Karma theory isn't limited to next birth. Many cases it's the same birth. You may find several references in Quora where people have discussed about how Karma returned back in famous or personal experiences. I too have many instances, where events happen in short span. Afterlife understanding or assumption is not mandatory for Karma theory to be proven. On the other hand, the discussion is moot, as at absolute level there is no such thing as "Karma" BG 5.14.
    – iammilind
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 2:02
  • wrong. or, rather, by that definition, even the 'mango is sweet' theory is unfalsifiable, if you remove the condition of having to taste it first, which is what you're doing expecting us to do with the conditions we laid down for you to understand karma theory. The day you can 'prove' to me that a mango is sweet without putting the condition that i must first taste it, that very day i can prove to you that karma theory is also sweet without putting the condition that you must recall your past lives.
    – ram
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 21:30
  • @sv, "Now there is no empirical evidence of an afterlife" - that's like saying there is no empirical evidence of a childhood (lets say this was 100 years ago when photography didn't exist), just because you are unable to remember it. there are sadhanas to give one the ability to recall past lives, but no modern 'scientists' are brave enough to undertake them
    – ram
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 21:31

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