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. bg in oregon

    God is a fairy tale for people that are afraid of the dark.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Well, I'd say fear of the unknown, which I suppose fear of the dark is.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • SystemYou

      why do people run around wondering "where was god" in all of this? The truth is people always use the "god excuse" when something horrible happens....people are dwelling on the past and worried about the future....instead of looking at the present.
      I see god as something that people latch on to when they are to afraid to look at themselves as a way of ending their suffering.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  2. Craboo

    Papa don't worry you are safe from JG's fantasy's.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  3. roselord

    God gave us a beautiful world with everything we could possibly need PLUS free-will. We're messing it up big time – polluting the air, the water, the soil and our own minds with all kinds of garbage and then blaming God when something bad happens. As for who should be teaching the children about morals, that's everyone's responsibility but especially the parents'. The example we set by how we treat each other, what we bring into our homes via the media, how we earn a living, etc. speaks much louder than whether or not God is on the dollar bill, on the walls of the courthouses, etc.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Bob

      roselord, actually, the world has both beautiful and awful things in it pretty much out of the gate, considering just the natural disaster inevitability from earthquakes from tectonic activity, volcanoes, bad weather, and much more. That's before we even get into bio good and bad. So if you are going to give god credit for the good stuff, you aren't being fair or appropriate when you don't also blame him for the obvious awful stuff too. Take the blinders off and be fair.

      Overall, there's no good case to be made for a god, at least not one with characteristics anything like what Christians claim for theirs, and not one with the intents that Christians so often claim. And don't come back at me with a claim that we can't know the will of god, because what you stated infers that you do claim you know that intent yourself.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  4. Rational Libertarian

    I've never seen a more popular article.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • sam

      Popular enough for 100 pages!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  5. Nancy

    God did not allow this senseless killing. God has given us freewill to do as we please. If we all followed the Ten Commandments there would be no killing. But, our country is trying its hardest to eliminate God and His teachings from society.
    Evil is now prevailing and will continue until our country is willing to obey God's laws. I believe in the Second Amendment. Criminals will get the guns, weapons, etc whatever it takes to kill with. We as law abiding citizens deserve the right to defend and protect ourselves and our family from the criminals. Yes, there should be background checks. Unfortunately, this does not always keep weapons out of the hands of the offenders. Guns do not kill. People kill. We must teach our kids at an early age how to respect the rights of others. Life is sacred. Be kind and love one another. The Ten Commandments is
    a good place to start.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • damo12345

      God does not exist.
      The Bible is filled with passages explicitly demanding followers to kill one another over awful primitive tribal laws.
      Leave that horrible hatefilled book out of the lives of our children.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Sherron Teal

      When will you fools ever wake up and realize their is no God??? We are on our own here on earth. We ALONE are responsible for our actions, no on else period! This fantasy that so many of you blindly believe in, is just that a fantasy!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Dan

      "God did not allow this senseless killing. God has given us freewill to do as we please"

      He did allow this senseless killing because he had the power to stop it and didn't. He chose to have all those people including a six year old girl be killed. He had the power to stop it and did nothing. Why exactly should God be let off the hook? Because hes 'God'?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  6. Justin H

    If god exists and chose to do nothing, then he is indifferent to human suffering.
    If god exists and was unable to do anything, then he is impotent – and therefore not all powerful.
    If god exists and the act was his will, then god is cruel and can not be considered a loving god.

    Of course there's the more likely explanation that there is no god.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Michael M

      God does exist.

      God said that he set before us life and death and told us to choose, but then He told us He desired for us to choose life. Deuteronomy 30:19.

      God, did not create a bunch of robots that have no control over themselves. He created us to have choice, because He wants us to choose Him. No different then I wouldn't want somebody to choose my wife for me and tell me I have to love her, but rather I would prefer to desire my wife and pick her. However, just like with picking my wife, there is always a chance that she can come back and say she doesn't pick me. Same is true with God.

      While He tells us what His desire is we can tell Him no. It was not God's will or desire that these people be killed. You ask how I know, well, because He makes it clear in His word, the Bible. One of the Ten Commandments (You know the thing that has been barred from hanging in any court and some are pushing to have it no where seen publicly) is "Thou shall not kill." God has made it clear in this commandment and in lots of other passages throughout the Bible that He does not condone the shedding of innocent blood.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  7. broncofanssuck

    Look at what athiests beleive


    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Bill


      July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • damo12345

      We don't believe that.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • seancarey88

      I am atheist and I don't believe that.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  8. varun

    Appointing an atheist like Gilgoff to CNN.com Religion Editor is like appointing a farmer from Iowa as CNN.com Medical Correspondent. In either case, the person has no expert knowledge of the subject. LOL! CNN is a joke in name of journalism.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • damo12345

      Having a "faith" section defies logic.

      Having "faith" defies logic.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Larry

      to VARUN, actually most atheists become atheist because they HAVE read the bible (and possibly many other mythological, ancient religious texts). They have extensively studied these books and chose atheism because of this research. Having read, understood, and dismissed these religions makes them knowledgeable experts. Remember – everyone is born an atheist – it is their family and society that teach (brainwash) them to worship fairy tales. I was raised as a Christian (non-denominational) and in 7th grade Reading Class, we read about Greek Mythology. This confused me then, why would the authors of the book use the term Mythology to describe the Gods of another culture – I asked myself then, "Do the Greek think Jesus is a myth? Do other cultures think the Bible is a collection of myths?"

      July 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  9. Michael E. Brooks

    If God was anywhere, he was on a cross.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  10. Tyrion Lannister

    Christopher Nolan gave us Batman vs Bane. Nolan IS GOD. You have my permission to die!!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  11. wallybird1234

    He was out bar-hopping with Peter Pan and the Easter Bunny. Harry Potter couldn't make it.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  12. ross

    Which god from which religion? I guess all the invisible men in the sky who supposedly look over us were busy.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  13. Dom

    Religious people in this country that allow their beliefs to dictate every thought they think and every word they speak are what's bringing us down as a nation. The (extreme) Christians that refuse to remove the blinders of their faith and see the world through other perspectives are causing more trouble than any other group as far as America's integrity and collective intelligence are concerned. To many of these people, the things they believe are absolute truth and the rest of the world around them pulses on and on to the imaginary beat of some immoral and hell-bound drum. These ideas and ways of thinking, in my opinion, are more dangerous to the American dream and American growth than, for instance, any kind of extreme Islamic group. They are a cancer eating away at this country's standing in the modern world from the inside.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  14. Sensei John

    Tragedy occurs when love and light is needed most. Tragedy brings many, many great miracles of love and support to all who experience it and those who around it.
    I am a Gulf War Veteran and have seen enough in the medical field to have my own personal belief.
    God Bless all in Aurora

    July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  15. The Asian Atheist

    Ted was great

    July 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  16. Jakk

    Why do so many people worry about God? If there isn't a God whats the big deal?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • OOO

      Everyone has already lived all their lives without one so far.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  17. John

    How many Christians actually read the Bible? Its a very violent book. Bad things happen to people all the time. Man's inhumanity to man. Heck, even Jesus told a story about a tower falling down and killing a lot of people (Luke 13:1-5). He didn't try to explain it. He just acknowledged it as happening and tried to make a point that evil happens to everyone – good and bad. We look forward to God's coming kingdom. The world we live in now...stinks!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      Therein lies the problem. Rampant focus on an uncertain afterlife at the expense of the now is part of why we have a lot of the problems that currently plague society.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  18. SometimesYes

    God was in theater 3 watching "Ted" for the eighteenth time. Cracks Him up every time. So if you're not going to that movie too, you're going against God.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • NOBOZO

      God allows us to make our own choices...bad or good.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      As far as choices go, watching Ted is a good one.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Cherie

      Where was God during the Aurora massacre? The same place He was when His son Jesus Christ was crucified. Right there in the midst of it all...allowing His perfect will to be done. Surely, He could have intervened in the midst of crucifiction, but just because He didn't doesn't mean that He loved His son any less. In fact, it simply means that He loved us more. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ was for our good in the end. God's ways are not our ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts; therefore, we will never understand why this massacre occurred. We can only pray that those who were graced to survive now recognize the uncertainty of a tomorrow, and find hope and comfort in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  19. Calvin

    God is everywhere. Sin entered the world when Adam & Eve sinned. Sin is the cause of the hurt and pain in this world. We live in an imperfect world. Sin leads to tragedies like Aurora.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Bob

      Proof please, Calvin. I doubt that you have any.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  20. truth

    God is always where he is.. he is in control calling men patiently to repent of their sins. He gave man freewill right from the beginning, but man often choses to do evil. Where was God? The question should be.. where are you? Are you right with God?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • John

      Can somebody please tell me how god can be "in control" and man can have "freewill", both at the same time? Anybody?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      It defies logic, christians take the cake on that one.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Tualla

      AMEN......WELL SAID !!!!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • miket

      what about woman?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 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.