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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:

Lenny
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.

Kyle
"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:

Harleyxx
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. Plain

    http://www.watchtower.org/e/200611/article_01.htm

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

      I'm sorry but the Watch Tower really has NOTHING to offer. It is a religion of dead bones. According to your own literature, there are 4 requirements to be "eligible for salvation so this does not mean you will actually get it after all of the doors you HAVE to knock on to try to EARN your salvation. Remember even the WT says it is a free gift but boy do you have to work for it. Can you tell me how many meetings do you have to attend, how many doors do you have to knock on to have salvation? Oh even after you have worked for decades, you question your elders the wrong way and you can be disfellowed and if you died before you could be reinstated, you are again a goat and do not have life forever.on Earth. The cold heartedness of your elders and other leaders is nothing I want anything to do with.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • A Servant of God

      "I'm sorry but the Watch Tower really has NOTHING to offer. It is a religion of dead bones. According to your own literature, there are 4 requirements to be "eligible for salvation so this does not mean you will actually get it after all of the doors you HAVE to knock on to try to EARN your salvation. Remember even the WT says it is a free gift but boy do you have to work for it. Can you tell me how many meetings do you have to attend, how many doors do you have to knock on to have salvation? Oh even after you have worked for decades, you question your elders the wrong way and you can be disfellowed and if you died before you could be reinstated, you are again a goat and do not have life forever.on Earth. The cold heartedness of your elders and other leaders is nothing I want anything to do with."

      "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake." Matthew 24:9. This is one of many scriptures that state Jehovah's Witnesses will be persecuted. You say salvation is a free gift? It is. But do you not know that faith without works is dead? James 2:14-24

      Romans 2:6 "who will render to every man according to his works:"
      Romans 2:13 "for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified:"

      Just to name a few.

      Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." NIV

      Acts 20:20 – " You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house."

      Again...faith is naturally followed by works. If you desire to become a fit, muscular individual, you can have faith that a certain workout regimen will help you achieve said desire, however, unless puts forth that WORK and EFFORT to attain it...pure faith alone will achieve absolutely nothing.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  2. Alex

    I love how the existence of a god is a given to CNN but the existence of evil is up for debate. Why don't you take a look at the stories that you put out? There is a heaping pile of evidence for the existence of evil. There is no such evidence for the existence of a god.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  3. Cathy Nixon

    The question was risen. Where was God during this horrible massacre? Right where he has always been. Right here with us, everday. We are human beings with free will. One young man created this horrible tragedy, not God, not his parents, he did. God is listening but are we?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  4. John

    He does not exist...that's where he was (or wasn't).

    July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  5. Gary

    If God knows you before you're born and what you will do in life before you even have the option to do it. Then why would he even let you be concieved knowing you could turn out to be James Holmes.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  6. JJ

    Oh, please. What BS. Is god omniscient? If so, he knew this was going to happen (it also means no one has free will). Is he omnipotent? If so, it means he knew it was going to happen, and didn't lift a finger to do anything about it, and that implies he's a psychopath who enjoys watching people suffer. If he's neither omniscient nor omnipotent, then he doesn't exist. End of story. Stop rationalizing idiotic delusions. Fideism is for morons.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  7. Thwee saching marma

    To accept the God exist is to deny Him ... every evil things happen due to human ignorance.... even human out of ignorance accept God exists ...which is " NOT" .... i blame the Ignorance . !!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  8. Deuce2179

    Good and evil lives inside us all. God or no God, I don't care. It's all about what we allow to take hold of us at certain moments when the event comes to fruition. We aren't supposed to allow a being too instill morals and ethics....It's the job of the parent to do so. In a society that is ruled by media and technology to be the babysitter, we allow are children free reign to access all parts of life – good and evil. What you show, allow, and teach your children will come to reality through the seeds that you sow. You will reap the "devil" or "saint" depending on how you choose to raise them. So stop blaming the government, liberals, tea baggers, religion, etc...It's your failure as parents to bring out the good in your children. Take responsibility for your actions and stop passing the buck!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  9. W

    If God were to stop every evil thing from happening, then evil wouldn't exist...and neither would God. There has to be opposition in all things, and in a fallen world, terrible things will happen because there will always be people who choose to make the wrong choices and to hurt others. Bad things do not indicate an absence of God. Mortal life is an imperfect one, with suffering and sickness and disease, as well as people who choose to hurt instead of help. We can all take comfort in knowing that every soul is precious to our Heavenly Father, and that even though He allowed those people to die, they are not lost. They are with Him now, and He is ready and able to comfort and lift the survivors that the deceased have left behind. In the end, everything will be made fair and right, but if you are someone who would consider giving up your belief in God because of a tragedy like this, please look at the big picture and remember that in the end, it will all be made right.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  10. JV

    Lol @ people trying to rationalize abrahamic belief systems

    July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  11. Bible Flipper

    GOD didn't do this, man did.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  12. orion7x

    God doesnt get involved with our stupidity. We learn from the actions we take or others take. That is how god works. It's an impersonal love.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  13. Todd

    The Atheists say No, The Religious say Yes.

    If there is no God, then bad stuff just happens.
    If there is a God, then it must be part of some grand master plan.

    Asking people the question, is just stirring up the Atheist vs Religious internet trolling. Hey CNN lets modernize our Internet trolling a little bit more. VI vs. EMACS which text editor should we use?

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

      I prefer VI myself. 🙂

      July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Quinton

      So the religious are conspiracy theorists?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  14. EatThemUpYum

    CNN is really going downhill if they rely on twitter feedback to fill a front "page" article...

    July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  15. Sam

    It takes more faith to believe that life came from nothing, then to believe in a creator that lives outside of this universe

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

      And where did he/she/it come from. Nothing? In the end a creator doesn't answer the question of existance so why bother. Let's just all admit that no one knows. Grow up America. Get yer friggin head out of the make believe world.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  16. Jack

    More importantly – WHERE WAS BATMAN!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  17. Paul

    Those that say that "we" are trying to force God out of our lives in America and attempt to give examples. What that says to me, is that these people say that God is spiteful. I do not believe that. This comes down to free will and not a spiteful God.

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

      what about the "free will" of the victims?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  18. jose

    18 We know that every [person] that has been born from God does not practice sin, but the One born from God watches him, and the wicked one does not fasten his hold on him. 19 We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the [power of the] wicked one.
    and they worship , the wicked one,, and the results are evil , every where, don`t complain , God all mighty is Jehova, and he is all love, for who obeys him,, he gave us all free will yes but how do you use it counts, you play with fire, you will get burnt is that reasonable? don`t blame God, hi did not force you to do it , it is of your own free will Jehova wants every one to live for ever, and get to know him, very well , but what do we get,, ?? evil , the way you live the way you die

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

      You say we know these things? How do you know? Nobody told me.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • falcon

      Your god certainly has ordered the massacre of untold thousands.......all loving, all powerful, yes?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  19. erick

    hard to believe in 2012 people are still so delusional, there is no god accept it.

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

      amen to that

      July 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  20. M. Roy

    Our country, along with our President have dismissed God from just about everything. It's sad and tragic that these things happen and it's quite easy to blame God, or the Devil. The man was evil, period. Blame him for this tragedy for he's the one that pulled the trigger and killed those people.

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

      m. roy.

      How can you say that our country and president have "dismissed god from just about everything"?

      He invokes god in nearly every speech he gives, and left him/her/it out of ONE speech on Thanksgiving and the media acted as if it was the end of the world.

      This country's political leaders are infected from top to bottom with religion

      July 25, 2012 at 2:12 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.