Who killed more people, God or Satan? (Part 1)

In the spirit of God Behaving Badly, several people have mentioned versions of this chart to me,

One of the atheists mentioned it to me while I was speaking at Bucknell, and I didn’t really have a good answer (partly because I wasn’t sure what the person was talking about).

Let’s come up with some good responses to this chart.

What would you say to someone who asked you about it? 

Where do the 10 Satan-caused deaths come from? 

In part 2, I’ll share my thoughts about the chart.

Here’s the article where the image comes from http://www.religico.com/2009/12/17/who-killed-more-people-in-the-bible-god-or-satan/

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12 comments

  1. 1) Not sure what it means to “kile” someone. I hope it is good.
    2) Satan doesn’t really seem all that important in the Old Testament. He’s “The Accuser,” not “The Mass-Murderer.” And if he is the snake in Genesis 3, then he is at least indirectly responsible for death iteself. So that can’t be good.
    3) What counts as God killing someone? Do the 36 men who died at the battle of Ai in Joshua 7 count? Does God have to strike them dead or can he use some other means (sword, plague, famine, etc)?
    4) Isn’t that number a little small? I mean, he did flood the world right? How on earth do you get specific numbers from that? How does the maker of thsi chart know the populations of Sodom and Gomorrah?

    Those are my questions. Most of them have a slight tongue-in-cheek-ness about them.

  2. Ben, Noah is my son. He helps me with my spelling. Noah, Ben spelled the city of Ai correctly, but the other are typos (Well spotted, Noah.). I’m surprised I didn’t spot the “Kiled” in the chart. Well done, Ben.

    Also Ben, great point about the possible connection between the Serpent and Satan, and Satan’s potential contribution to all sin and death. If you click on the article link at the bottom, the author explains how he comes up with those numbers. He acknowledges that they are low estimates.

  3. I’m not sure how they crunched the God numbers. It would depend on how you interpret the flood narrative, population levels during certain events, when you date certain events, etc.

  4. If we are going to use the Bible to see God’s kill (or kile) count, than shouldn’t we also check on His creation count? Is He not the source of all life? (including satan) If God is creator and over all things, than is He not responsible to an extent for allowing every death to occur? Even the ones that He is not directly ‘credited’ for in scripture.

    I believe that God allows death and uses it to deliver us over to our previously chosen path. There is great mystery here. I believe that in the end God is a Juste judge. Help my unbelief.

  5. That’s what I get for typing on an iPad.

    So he bumps it up to 33,000,000 in the post. I think that is a better number. But here is my question now: why doesn’t the bible have a problem with this? It really doesn’t seem like an issue for the biblical writers. They are unconcerned with the fact that God has authority over life and death.

    We are the ones with the problem. the biblical authors might have had a problem with the fact that God was merciful with so many people.

  6. Ben, Yeah, I bet the person who typed “Kiled” was using an iPad too. Part of the reason the Bible didn’t have a problem with it, is that that’s just what gods did back then. Read the Enuma Elish or Atrahasis–that’s what they expected gods to do, so the fact that YHWH showed mercy often or was slow to anger was weird.
    Danny, great point. He gives and he can take away. We need help to understand the mystery of his actions. You could say the humans when they ate of the fruit began the process that moved all of us toward death (similar to Ben’s point earlier).
    Thanks for engaging gentlemen!

  7. I don’t see what the problem is. God is holy and will judge sin but sometimes He chooses now rather than later. He has the right to take life because He alone gave life; He’s the Creator of every human who is accountable to Him regardless of whether they acknowledge Him or not. The real surprise is why God hasn’t killed more people sooner. But His gracious patience leads us to repent of our sin and trust His Son, the Saviour of the world. Fortunately God’s anger is limited by slowness but His love is limitless in its abundance and steadfastness. God’s killing anger is merely a contingent property or attribute but God’s love is an essential property or attribute because “God is love” (1 John 4:8). The Bible never says, “God is wrath.” Prior to the Fall and the introduction of human sin God had no reason to act in anger. But before the Fall, since the Fall and in the new heavens and new earth, God is love.

  8. If had a few minutes, I’d try to respond with something akin to Romans 5:12-21 and point out that Satan was the tempter who enticed man to sin and “death spread to all men because all sinned.” And if we’re in agreement that death is a bad thing (such that we want to compare who killed whom), then we could probably agree that life is better. There’s is only one person who trampled down death by death, and that’s Jesus.

    There are probably finer, more nuanced ways to deal with such a thing. But a ham-fisted argument probably needs a blunt response.

  9. God can kill who he wants to kill. He alone is God. He answers to no one except Himself. So whether we get it or not He is right to do as He pleases. The fact that we get troubled by “God behaving badly” simply betrays our unbiblical self-over-estimation and finitude.

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