Seishin wrote: Rebirth, of course, can't be empirically proved, but neither can it be empirically disproved.
This depends on how one defines rebirth
As I mentioned before, the experience
of mental continuity exists.
That is provable.
However, upon closer examination, one discovers that what is experienced as one continuous 'self' is really a series of rapidly occurring, separate events.
It is commonly accepted that as long as a group of cells continues reproducing together, that a body is alive. This continuous cycle of birth and death of the body is regarded by most people as a 'self' in the physical sense, and they maintain that an essentially individual single (cognitive) sense of "me" is connected with that collection of constantly replicating ("living") cells, despite the (provable) fact that they are constantly replicating collection, and not a continuous single organism.
Where people object to the idea of rebirth is at the point that all of those cells cease replicating (the physical body, including the brain) "dies" and they argue that no self or particular identity leaves off at this point and picks up somewhere else (rebirth/reincarnation), but again, all of this is based on the idea that the self is intrinsically existent, and, as I mentioned, Buddhism also does not support the idea of an intrinsically existent self island-hopping from body to body either.
Rather, it is the continuous echoing of conditions, the constant churning of cause and effect (karma) rooted in the activity of the mind, which repeatedly give way to new and strikingly similar experiences. Thus, while I still have some hair on my head, for example, the causes which once resulted in its being thick and dark are no longer there, but the causes for hair to grow on my head remain. The causes for that hair to be thin and grey now result in that very effect. Likewise, with the thoughts of the mind.
We do not experience one, long, continuous, rope-ike thought, not even one long continuous thought of "me". If we did, then we could argue that an intrinsically existent self existed. Then we could argue about what happens when that rope gets cut at the end of life. But that isn't what happens.
Instead, the causes of cognition arise from conditions when those conditions are there. When the physical body of this present life no longer provides the conditions for cognition to arise, this does not mean that the conditions for cognition do not arise elsewhere, resulting from the causes of the present. If I blow up a balloon, and throw it into the air, and die before it lands, it continues to float along with the air that i breathed into it, even though I am dead. If I was sick, then when that balloon pops, the air inside it may infect the people near it. Similarly, the actions of this life create causes which manifest later.
Buddhism doesn't say that you are going to die and maybe be reborn as a duck, maybe hatching out of the egg and thinking, 'how did I get all of these feathers...the last thing I recall is a big bus heading right for me?" No, "you" won't be that duck, or another person (unless, as some lamas are apt to do, you arrange your affairs differently) but the actions of your body, speech and mind are causes, and causes produce effects, and the effect is (according to Buddhist reasoning) another cognitive being, because
a cognitive being is the nature of the causes being produced. So, within this lifetime, you don't suddenly change from being a person, into a chair, then into a clock or a river, and back into a person either. But of course, you know that.
Just as cream can get turned into butter, a dairy product undergoes changes but it still ends up turning into another a dairy product.