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September 21, 2010

Why Are Religious Claims a Target for the Extraordinary Claims Campaign?
Some comments on Supernatural Claims, Evidence, and the Burden of Proof

The Claims:

Vishnu is a major god in Hinduism. He is the second god of the Hindu triad and is thought to be the preserver of the universe. The two other gods of the triad – Brahma and Shiva – are regarded as the creator and destroyer of the universe, respectively. Visnhu was considered a minor deity but rose in stature over time.

Vishnu is represented as a man with four arms, each of which holds an item of significance. As preserver of the universe he is considered to represent mercy and goodness. Vishnu is reincarnated to re-establish balance every time good and evil are out of proportion in the world. This is to happen ten times and has happened nine times already. The most revered incarnations of Vishnu have been the seventh (Rama) and the eighth (Krishna). The tenth reincarnation, Kalki, will come at the end of the period called “Kali Yuga”.

Vaishnavism or Vaishnava are the names given to the worship of Vishnu. Followers are called Vaishnavites. They believe that Vishnu is the one supreme god. Vaishnava theology includes pantheism, reincarnation, samsara, karma, and various Hindu yoga systems with emphasis on devotion as practiced in Bhakti Yoga.

The Evidence:

One piece of evidence that has been presented in favour of Vishnu’s existence is the presence of similar images or statues of Vishnu reclining on a cobra at several places on earth. However, in the absence of any other evidence, it is far more likely that popular imagination is responsible for such similar images.

Alternatively, an Indian man named Mahaguru Parthasarathy has been argued to be proof for Vishnu’s existence and divinity. All of Vishnu’s reincarnations are said to have possessed a mole on their chest called the Srivatsam. Mr. Parthasarathy has such a mole, and – for this and other reasons having to do with astrology – it is believed that he is the tenth reincarnation of Vishnu, Lord Kalki. However, attempting to prove a belief not substantiated by empirical evidence (Vishnavism) by another belief not substantiated by empirical evidence (astrology) fails. In any event, men with moles on their chests living in India are far too common to represent evidence of reincarnation of a deity.

Other commonly presented proofs of Vishnu’s existence are similar to the arguments made by all the world’s religions for the existence of their particular God, and can be addressed in a like manner.


Similarities between the story of Vishnu (the triad of gods and the imminent reincarnation of the deity) and trinities in other world religions are of anthropological interest but provide no empirically verifiable evidence for the truth claims of any religion, including Vishnavism. It is reasonable to conclude that Vishnu, like all other gods, is a mythological figure invented by humans.


Wikipedia Page on Vishnu

Article on Vishnu

Vishnu on

Vishnu Statues

Evidence to Prove Existence of Lord Ram

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Clever permalink
    May 24, 2011 6:13 AM

    The writer has fundamentally misunderstood the concepts behind ‘gods’ in Hinduism, and therefore anything he writes on the topic ought to be considered bunk.
    Hindu god’s or idols are representative of the intangible, that which creates and destroys. Its does not at any point take instruction from a god or person like in all the monotheistics.

  2. Knowledge permalink
    February 4, 2011 8:43 PM

    This article misses the point of the “triad” of Gods presented in Hinduism. The “Gods” here are not intended to be taken as real beings that exist physically, but instead are each a symbol of a fundamental driving force of the universe. It is believed that, at its most fundamental explanation, the universe is considered to be driven by three major influences: The influence of creation, the influence of maintainance (i.e. equilibrium), and the influence of destruction. These are the three concepts represented by the Hindu triad. Each of the three Gods is associated with one of these traits. However, these three Gods are ultimately just different dimensions of the Universe – also known as Brahma.

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