Where was God in Aurora massacre?
Twelve crosses comprise a makeshift memorial near the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, scene of last week’s mass shooting
July 24th, 2012
02:13 PM ET

Where was God in Aurora massacre?

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Where was God in Aurora?

It’s a fresh take on an age-old question: Why does God allow suffering, natural disasters or - if you believe in it - evil?

We put the question to Twitter on Tuesday and got some starkly different responses.

“In short, God was in complete control, exercising His will,” wrote @PastorRileyF, who leads a church in Bethune, Colorado.

That riled @TheTrivia Jockey, who tweeted, “If that was God's will, God is definitely not deserving of my worship.”

Watch: Survivor of massacre says he forgives gunman

@trentpayne also took issue with the Colorado pastor: "I'm going to respectfully disagree with you Pastor. God gives free will to man, but it wasn't his will that they die."

The back-and-forth provoked other believers to chime in on the theological issue of God’s sovereignty vs. human free will, with many Christians seeking to explain how a sovereign God could preside over seemingly senseless bloodshed.

“It is not God's will or want that people died in Aurora,” wrote @GospelBluesman 20m. "God allowed man's inhumanity to man, rather than intervene.”

The conversation and debate continued in the comments section of this post, with some insinuating that the massacre might be a kind of divine punishment, or at lease divine neglect:

We as a country have been telling God to go away. We told him to get off our currency, get out of our schools, get out of our Pledge of Allegiance, take your Ten Commandments out of our courthouses, get those Bibles out of hotels and no graduation ceremonies in our churches. How can we expect God to give us his blessing and his protection if we demand that he leave us alone?

Jesse R
Liberals have made it impossible for God to be anywhere during the upbringing of a child. Can't have any religious connotations in schools, libraries, government offices, etc., etc. Young men (and women) are growing up with no real sense of right and wrong. ... We no longer have the right of religion, but rather the right from religion. Parents no longer have the ability to discipline their children. We are always looking for the excuses ... violent video games and movies, bad teachers and schools ... when we should be looking in the mirror. We as a society are the reasons these massacres happen. We have allowed our children to become social misfits that lead to the kind of carnage we have seen on several occasions since religion and God disappeared from what the Founding Fathers once said was a necessity of a successful democracy ... faith.

Lots of readers used religious takes on the shooting to challenge the whole idea of God:

Who invited me?
How do you know the people that were killed didn't go to hell?, and how exactly does any of this show there is a reason? Reason is obviously something that you have replaced with belief, and you threw out logic with it.

"God doesn't exist, so he wasn't anywhere. Get over it. A man was evil, and he was evil because he was crazy.

Plenty of others said the shooting was the devil's work:

Evil things like this happen because Satan is the god of this world ... for the time being. God will undo all the damage caused by Satan's rebellion and man's disobedience when the time is right. In the meantime we all experience trials and tribulation due to living in an ungodly world. That is why Jesus taught his followers the Lord's Prayer ... 'to pray for God's kingdom to come.'

What’s your take? Where was God in the Aurora massacre? Or do you feel that such tragedies are evidence for a godless universe?

Let us know in comments, and we’ll highlight the best ones.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: God • Violence

soundoff (10,690 Responses)
  1. Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

    "Where was God in Aurora?"

    Same place: on the pages of your silly comic book.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  2. Further proof

    A just god would no allow the tragedy in Aurora, nor would he allow a so-called news corporation to pretened this 'story' is actually the news.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  3. ddisgreat

    Where was God? In the middle crying. This "free will" thing can be devastating sometimes.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • yeahalright

      How's your little free will excuse work for ya when it's a natural disaster killing innocent children instead of one of the humans he allegedly created?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  4. Heimlick

    Of course this is God's Will. Everyone HAS to die in this life to get life in the next. So – MATTER HOW YOU DIE – it's par for the course in order to live. Forever. Removed from the corruption of the flesh. Which – God created corrupt by the way.

    See ya in heaven!

    July 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Nice God you worship.

      Guess you must be Aryan.

      Kill for Jesus, cause it's the right thing to do?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Heimlick

      I don't worship 'God'... no need to say I do anything actually...it's already done. Written down long ago. Free will is an illusion.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      "Free will is an illusion."

      You could while away the hours,
      conferrin' with the flowers,
      consultin' with the rain,
      and your head you'd scratching,
      while your thoughts were busy hatchin',
      if you only had a brain...

      July 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  5. Response


    July 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  6. Rich

    not the gods will again story.......again....very sad we give all that money to religion....actually funny

    July 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  7. YBP

    Where was God?

    Well, he spent months at the shooter's apartment, observing as he collected military-grade weapons, ammo and explosives. Then he looked on with indifference as the shooter wired his apartment and set a trap for one of his neighbors. Next he was hanging out unnoticed in the cinema box office, watching everyone else excitedly purchase tickets to the midnight show. Then he was loitering at the emergency exit of the auditorium, making sure that the door didn't accidentally slam shut.

    Earlier today he was available for grief counseling and the dispensing of blessings and grace. For some strange unfathomable, his appointment book got filled up in a flash, not only for today, but for the foreseeable future.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  8. Ben

    Did God perform the evil? No. Was he aware of it and allowed it? Yes. Does he have purpose for it? Yes. Does the fact that he let it occur make him "evil" and thus, not God? No. For us to sit in judgement of God, presumes we know the eternal effects of this tragedy, which none of us know. God allowed it to happen and he is working it for his good purposes.

    We all die, and God takes all our lives at some point, he is after all, or Creator. He gives and he takes away. Yet he is good and he is working his purposes.

    "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Rom 8:28

    July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  9. Kevin

    My prayers are with the victims' families and wish them nothing but many blessings now and in the future.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  10. HappyMadison

    He was golfing with Mitt Romney.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  11. humble servant

    The problem is matter of perspective. We have issue with God because we view things from our own perspective and expect God to conform with our views. To us, death is the ultimate end so if people suffer and died, all is over. However, to an eternal God, death is just a passage unto His Presence, and death is just a short term suffering compare to eternity. He can only judge us fairly if He allows us to act freely. God says don't kill, but we kill. Is this God's fault? He will deal with each one of us soon or later according to our deeds.

    Jeremiah 17
    5Thus says the Lord,
    “ Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
    And makes flesh his strength,
    And whose heart turns away from the Lord....
    9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else
    And is desperately sick;
    Who can understand it?
    10 “I, the Lord, search the heart,
    I test the mind,
    Even to give to each man according to his ways,
    According to the results of his deeds.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Matthew

      Thank you for that post.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  12. highplainsparson

    Reblogged this on High Plains Parson and commented:
    They omitted part of the tweet, but it was nice to get a mention on the CNN belief blog. Indeed, God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. I intend to write a new blog post addressing the Aurora shooting shortly. Our thoughts and prayers go with the victims and their families. This was a heinous crime.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  13. Larry Urish

    God was in the same place "he" was during the Holocaust, during the genocidal massacre of the Armenians during WWI, during the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia and during the shooting in Colorado. Where was god? God was nowhere, simply because there is no god. Any other opinion, from a rational perspective, is delusional.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Matthew

      Believing that God does not exist is foolish.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  14. Jack

    He/They are not here.. The "god" of our ancestors were nothing more then mis interpreted visitations in our past from ancient astronauts that the people of those times explained in their literature, wall carvings, creation stories,etc. This is found all over the earth- so where was "god"- there is no 'god' - ask the ancient egyptians, sumarians, aztecs, dogon tribes, native americans, etc... They will all tell you that "god' came from the stars... Time to WAKE UP.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  15. HatesDualStandards

    Click-baiting CNN, are we? C'mon... where are all the screaming liberals to fry the evil corporation that is CNN? Ted Turner has a net worth of $2B, isn't that enough?

    July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  16. DIANA

    I believe God was with them. This evil person started something and this may sound crazy but I believe God had a hand in that the gun jammed so that more people weren't killed.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      You are an example of "why you can't fix stupid".

      July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      God: "What's he doin??? He's gonna shoot em??? I didn't know he was gonna do that! Gabriel, go stick this invisible tampon in his gun." Gabriel: "Ok, boss, I went and shoved the wonderwoman tampon in the gun, but a few people died – sorry it took so long." God: "What do we say Gabriel? Do you best, and forget the rest. Cheeto? "

      July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  17. Derpington

    For those that say he doesn't exist, you have no proof that he doesn't. For those who say he exists, you have no proof he does. There is nothing wrong in believing and saying someone is a fool for believing shows your foolishness and same goes vice versa. Also, God let's us choose what path we take by free will. For natural disasters....well that's nature and natural disasters don't always hit in populated areas. The media is full of BS and has too many morons writing for this site and too many morons commenting on here too.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      You must be the chief moron.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      Here's your fallacy: http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/burden-of-proof

      July 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Derpington

      @Jimmy Joe Jim Bob...you must be mad. Cannot come up with a better insult or reply to my comment except "you must be the chief moron"? Please tell me more about how highly intellectual you are.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Why would any person unfettered by delusion wish to debate you? There is no debate.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Incidentally, you're a hypocrite.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  18. cwewill

    he was in the same place he has always been! looking down on his creation as they continue to ignore him and go about their own way! He is too much of a gentleman to intrude where he is not wanted!

    July 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • New America

      The further we push ourselves from God the further he is going to be, thus leaving room for the enemy (satan) to intervene. God is FAIR. If we ignore him and go about our ways and how we choose to live we will be left with the doings of satan which are nothing but pain and suffering. God doesnt want that for us Satan wants that for us.

      By the way I used to go to church I am not a church goer anymore. But through my experiences and with the supernatural, i can tell you God and Satan exist, Or if you preffer; Good and Evil exist.

      You are going to continue to see these events and the Media trying to push you away from beliving in God. Just get ready.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  19. Ryan

    My believe has and most likely will always be somewhat conflicted. When I look at the world I see unlimited beauty juxtaposed with undeniable suffering. Where is God when a child dies? How could the act of selflessness in the face of struggle be considered anything, but holy? I must respect the skepticism of professed atheists although I think they see an incomplete picture. I must question blind zealotry in the face of proof, although I admire their faith. I guess to answer the question... I believe we were blessed to live in a world, any world, in which we can feel the love and care of fellow beings and wonder at how amazing consciousness is, but what comes with that ability to love is an ability to hate. God is in the choice. We reap the consequences on both sides.
    I Now, I must digress momentarily. The perpetrator of this horrible act is a regrettably very sick man. We do not know the extent of his illness nor the nature of it. But after many years in the mental health field, I feel very confident in saying that religion is not the root cause. Did it provide a spark in this case? I reserve judgement as we know very little. But I liken it to a man drowning. It doesn't matter what body of water he was submerged in, if he finds himself underwater he is going to drown.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Ryan

      The insistence in blaming a religion or a musician or a film or a lifestyle is all peripheral and distracts from a serious problem. If people were as concerned with noticing when a friend was acting strangely or hurting and taking the time to ask questions out of concern for his/her safety (and for other's as well as we are finding out) than assigning blame afterwards, I feel that we would find much more success in prevention.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  20. Harleyxx

    Man rebelled against God's rulership. The terrible things we see happening today are the result of a world controlled by Satan and alienated from God.
    At the right time, God will correct matters by means of his Kingdom ruled by Christ. In the mean time we need to endure and remain faithful.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.