As we have been examining physical Nature and its forces, it has become obvious that the return or response of the energy, the essence of the law of “cause and effect” which underlies or notion of Karma, is strictly in line with our adherence to the principles and laws of the physical universe and does not include any moral or ethical component. Physical Nature will put into our hands the power to split the atom if we focus intensely enough, regardless of whether we will use it benignly or malignantly.
We try to impugn an ethical motive in the results of physical energy, but in the purest sense, physical energy simply does not have this impulsion. The concept of Karma that includes a “payback” in terms of morality or ethics is actually something that arises with the development of higher forms of consciousness.
Sri Aurobindo describes the response of Nature: “Physical Nature gives impartially her results and rewards and demands from man observance not of the moral but the physical law: she asks for a just knowledge and a scrupulous practice of her physical lines and nothing else. There is no karmic retort from her on the many cruelties of science, no revolt against an unethical use of her facilities, much punishment of ignorance but none of wickedness.”
“Man may and does invent cruel and immoral means of getting at physical knowledge and its powers or turn to unethical ends the energies she places at his service, but that is a matter between his will and his own soul and of his relation with other living beings, his and their concern and not hers.”
Sri Aurobindo points out that with the entry of the life energy into physical Nature, we begin to see the first inklings of some kind of energetic response that begins to take into account the effect on life, with the possibility of a response that goes beyond the strictly physical energies to balance excesses, but even here, it is not a moral or ethical principle, but some other life-basis that determines the actual reaction.
Sri Aurobindo, Rebirth and Karma, Section II, Chapter 14, The Terrestrial Law, pg. 123, http://www.lotuspress.com/item.php?item=990117