helparcfun wrote:Well, before we can even talk about evidence, we need to establish what "rebirth" involves. If you care to explain how rebirth is supposed to work maybe then we can talk about what evidence would be required. If you are saying that there is some kind of "soul" that transfers itself from a dead person to a person being born, then we need to know the location of this "soul" or whatever you want to call it so we can scientifically analyse how the soul gets from the dead person to the live person. If, however, you are saying that when someone is born they somehow inbibe a dead persons memories then we need to establish how these memories came to be put into the born persons mind. As far as I'm aware, at present there is no scientific method which could do any of this.
Neither of these, however, are views on rebirth that any Buddhist holds. I'm not accusing you of making a strawman, but if you are going to ask for evidence for a phenomenon, it's important to know exactly what you're discussing.
If you believe in rebirth, that's fine, you are of course free to believe what you want, but just like the belief in God, it should be simply a matter of "faith." As I've already said, religious people should not try to prove their beliefs by scientific methods - it'll never work.
You're right that rebirth is never going to be proved by science, but that is a far leap from saying it is a matter of faith. We know many things on a deep, experiential level, and we know them without science, or at least the material hypothesis-theory science of today.
There was a philosopher who once called this the "Cookies in the pantry" fallacy: the assumption that all important matters of truth or knowledge are determined in the same way. He called it that because, as he put it, "We have a certain method of investigation to find if there are cookies in the pantry, but the same method doesn't help us know if there is a soul." I would argue that you are making the fallacious assumption that all truths, from the age of the earth to the nature of the mind, can be known directly through the same method, i.e. modern scientific methodology.
History is rife with examples where science has proved religion wrong- it's a one way street. Nowhere that I'm aware of are there examples where religion has proved science wrong.
It's not a zero-sum game where science must take from religion and religion must take from science. They can work together to cover the various aspects of human experience.
I am open to persuasion if anyone can show me examples where a religion has proved science wrong.
I would argue that "religious" Buddhism has shown a far better understanding of the psychology of human experience than traditional Western psychology for certain.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.
Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.
His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta
Stuff I write about things.