What do you mean by "physical evidence?" Are you making the Francis Crick/Patricia Churchland physicalist-elimative reductionism claim?Alex123 wrote:How do we know the Buddha as a historical person even existed? What physical evidence do we have?LonesomeYogurt wrote:Secular Buddhists absolutely do not have the real, original teachings of the Buddha! I have no quarrel with them, honestly, but those who reject rebirth are in fact rejecting a teaching of the Buddha that cannot be cast into historical invalidity without inviting scholarly anarchy regarding the true message of the Pali Canon. If you reject rebirth, or claim that it was not taught by the Buddha, then you are in fact rejecting a core part of the original teachings - and you're free to do that, but please do acknowledge it.
Also how do we know what He has actually said, and in which dialect(s) vs what was later standardized and written centuries later into suttas? We don't have any audio or video recordings....
So what the Buddha really taught is speculation.
We don't know if the Buddha existed historically.
I believe he did and think I can defend that belief well, but I don't know it for a fact.
This is a slippery slope to the solipsism and philosophical scepticism (which I'm opposed to as a zeteticist and on other grounds) of Plato's Allegory of the Cave and Descartes Meditations where he asked himself how he could be sure if he was not just dreaming or not. More recently, it has been called the Brain In A Vat Problem and provides the philosophical premises for movies like The Matrix Trilogy and Inception.
So, how does Alex know he's not just dreaming all this? How does Alex know he's not just a brain in a vat or a body in an incubator to provide energy for The Machines (this also relates to the artificial intelligence)?
And we don't know what the Buddha actually said or have absolute certainty about which languages he spoke and whether or not the suttas are a clear and distinct reperesenation of his life and teachings. But it's what we have to go on and the reason why must investigate for ourselves and perpetually test for oursleves. It is why at least confidence in things like the Buddha's law of karma is necessary to help us to do so.
However, to say, "What the Buddha taught is speculation" is to reason in a circle. If it's all just a matter of speculation, then we can't even, as your sentence implies, contrast his teachings to speculations about his teachings, can we?