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Murder is the deliberate, malicious and unlawful killing of one human being by another. Sir Edward Coke defined it as: "when a man of sound memory, and of the age of discretion, unlawfully killeth within any county of the realm any reasonable creature in rerum natura[1] under the king's peace, with malice aforethought, either expressed by the party or implied by law, so as the party wounded, or hurt, etc. die of the wound or hurt etc. within a year and a day after the same."[2]

  • "A man of sound memory, and of the age of discretion" means, in essence, a sane man.
  • "reasonable creature in rerum natura" means any human being.
  • "malice aforethought" is a legal concept and only requires a momentary intention immediately prior to the act.
  • The common law rule that in order for an act to constitute murder, the victim must die within a year and a day of the wounding, has now been modified by statute in a number of jurisdictions.

In addition to various secular prohibitions, the sixth[3] of the Ten Commandments forbids murder.


Killing humans is often legalized and committed without repercussions from governments. Such cases include wars, police actions, executions of prisoners, and abortion. The moral implications of these actions is often the subject of debate.


Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with deliberate intent to kill: (1) murder in the first degree is characterized by premeditation; (2) murder in the second degree is characterized by a sudden and instantaneous intent to kill or to cause injury without caring whether the injury kills or not.

Mass murder

Mass murder is the killing of very large numbers of people.

Atheism and mass murder

See also: Atheism and mass murder

Christian apologist Gregory Koukl wrote that "the assertion is that religion has caused most of the killing and bloodshed in the world. There are people who make accusations and assertions that are empirically false. This is one of them."[4] Koukl details the number of people killed in various events involving theism and compares them to the much higher tens of millions of people killed under atheistic communist regimes, in which militant atheism served as the official doctrine of the state.[4]

It has been estimated that in less than the past 100 years, governments under the banner of atheistic communism have caused the death of somewhere between 40,472,000 and 259,432,000 human lives.[5] Dr. R. J. Rummel, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii, is the scholar who first coined the term democide (death by government). Dr. R. J. Rummel's mid estimate regarding the loss of life due to communism is that communism caused the death of approximately 110,286,000 people between 1917 and 1987.[6]


  • A group of crows is called "a murder of crows".
  • The Biblical Cain is history's first murderer.


  1. rerum natura: In the nature of things; in existence.
  2. Coke 3 Inst 47
  3. Exodus 20:3-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21
  4. 4.0 4.1 Koukl, Gregory, The Real Murderers: Atheism or Christianity?, 1994
  5. Multiple references:
  6. Rummel, R. J. (November 1993). "How many did communist regimes murder?" University of Hawaii website; Freedom, Democracy, Peace; Power, Democide, and War.

See also