Satan / God – ngram

It is the greatest challenge of all time; God versus Satan. In the literature, who wins? Google’s ngram tells all.

As always, you can read an intro to Google’s ngram viewer here, if this is new for you.

The winner, not surprisingly, is God. What is interesting, however, is how little the score changes with time.


That is remarkably unremarkable! Very little change with time. For every 100 times we talk about God in the literature Satan gets mentioned roughly twice. Since 1800 all the way to 2000 there has been extremely little variation; the biggest “spike” (and I’m being generous calling it that) coming at the tail end of the 1960s.

In fact, this might be one of the most boring ngrams I’ve ever reported on. The only analysis might be to ask why it is so steady? Why the remarkable lack of variation? Over the course of two centuries of extreme turmoil in so many areas of life, why does this ratio of two words not change a whole lot?

I’m not sure. But I do think it is interesting how there has been some theological shifts lately to try and interpret the Bible’s teaching about Satan as purely metaphorical and not literal, as though Satan were not a real entity. It would seem this is not catching on in any widespread manner, because if he’s not real then it hardly seems worth our time to talk about him.

Yet, we keep talking about him; at least our discussions about Satan match the frequency of our discussions about God.

I don’t have anything else to add to this.