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. Cody

    This is Gods work, How else would you know what evil can do. Each of us hold within us the ability for both good and evil. The natural laws of the Universe dictate both.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  2. Joe

    God did want this but he or it would not stop it either....God gave us free will, thats why we are able to make a choice....this person chose a selfish path......Blame Hollywood!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • ian

      i dont blame hollywood. i blame middle america. there is where the blame truly lies.
      sad. just so, so sad. i pray for them....

      July 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  3. dom

    CNN is not to be trusted. Today they want to let you speak as a Christian, but tomorrow they call you evil.
    This article is for no other purpose than to get themselves a lift in their ratings.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Firewalker

      Thank Dom. You are 100% correct. CNN is only interested in fanning hateful division not answering any real questions. They laugh a lurid laugh at everybody who comments here.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  4. David

    Why do people still believe in gods at all. Why do people still have the audacity to sit there and say they are right will millions of others are wrong. You base your religion of a books written by man from years ago. Every religion before your religion did the same thing. Where was your god when people paid tribute to Zeus. Where was your god when Odin and Thor blessed vikings. How can you think that your religion was write when it has the same marks of so many religions before it that failed.

    Religion is a bad habit that needs to be dropped. It is just another wall dividing humans from one another.

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

    Question: Why do people have to die at all?
    Answer: They do in this world.
    They don't in the next – Christ Jesus has seen to that.
    Have faith in God. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Odin saw to that as well.
      You'd better be sure to die with a sword in your hand so you can get to Valhalla.

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

    why do people continue to believe that someone is watching over us and controlling what goes on in this world? Evil exists in the world..always has and always will and no one is up there monitoring it one way or the other...it is what is

    July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  7. michael

    All the answers can be found in the Bible. Never Judge or question Gods decisions. He has his purpose. If you believe in good you believe in evil and both lurk around us to TEST our faith. God and his son Jesus clearly state this. We are all suffer's! We are to remain humble and suffer as did Jesus Christ. Our reward for faith in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is eternal life in Heaven. Not to hard to understand, just hard for most to "accept" and "swallow". Testing of faith is NOT EASY. But we all can do it!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the bible is garbage. you'll gain more knowledge by reading the introduction in a high school text book.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • ian

      the bible was written by men and women just like you and me, sweetie. although i don't doubt that they were informed by their love of god.
      do you actually think the hand of god reached down through a cloud to guide their little hands? if you do think that, what do you think about the apocrypha? you know...the books of the bible that were deleted several hundred years ago? you probably don't know about that. do you?
      and do you believe the bible was written by god in the kings james version? it wasnt. ever hear of hebrew? greek?
      sounds like you need to do some learnin'. you probably don't wanna do that though, right?!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • sam

      'Never question'. Wow. You can parrot what you've been taught! Congrats.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • michael

      Sam and Ian. it's obvious you have no faith and you love to insinuate what others believe or practice. Carry on, Ignorance is bliss for you two..

      July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  8. scot pederson

    Bible Scripture says "for it is appointed for man once to die and then the judgement". It never says how each of us will die, some ways seem less fair than others, but we all die.

    So why does God allow evil? The question really should be why does God even allow us to live when man has been spitting in the face of God since the beginning. He loves us enough to put up with our rebellion and allow those who accept His grace of forgiveness and repent to have eternal life after this life is over.

    Evil continues in this world because we live in a fallen, cursed world because of sin. Until Jesus returns to redeem the saved there will be evil madmen such as Holmes, Dahmer, Bundy, Hitler, Stalin, Hussein and the list goes on.

    God was there in Aurora sparing some lives who prayed as they were being shot at. God was also there to allow such a tragic event to open the eyes of those who survived to realize that life is short and what is more important than anything else is where are you going after this life for eternity. You have 2 choices, Heaven or Hell.

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

      James 1:13-14 says "With evil things God cannot be tried, nor does God try any one..." People do evil things to others for many reasons. When all else fails, blame God. It's like blaming The President for natural disasters. Makes no sense at all.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  9. CTaft

    Every religion has a different idea of god, and some of them believe that everyone is reincarnated, so death is only one step in a long process. If one believe in such a religion then god would have no problem with people dying in Aurora because they would be going on to the next step in the process.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  10. Barrie

    God does not cause these trageties. He is there to get us through trageties. Read the book "When bad things happen to good people." It is helpful.

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

      i agree that god is there to get us through these difficulties, even though the book you mentioned did nothing for me in my most difficult hour. nothing at all. nada. perhaps it will for others.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  11. Randy

    Who knows why God allowed this to happen. The thing I do know is that only reason God allows evil to happen is this world is to bring about a greater good. What that that greater good is I don't know, but what I do know is that good will come out of this in time.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  12. ian

    it always saddens me to hear survivors in these cases say...'God was with me...thats why i survived'.
    such remarks suggest an arrogance that they think God was NOT with the people who died.
    as a christian, i believe God will be with me on my final day...in my final moments, as i pass over.... perhaps more than any other. that may be my own arrogance, but it sickens me to hear others suggest that the deceased were not in the presence of God in their dying moments. we all die physically. that is our destiny. it doesn't mean God is not 'with us'.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  13. Bootyfunk

    if god does exist, then he's the biggest b.astard ever. why not use his power to shield the people in the theater from the bullets? the simple answer, of course, is that he doesn't exist, so he couldn't have protected anyone.

    christianity is a cult, like any other. cults are unhealthy. leave the cult. think for yourself.

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

      As we look at people and we come to know the natures of those that are trusting verses those that don't trust others, it is often the case that those that don't trust, often do so because they judge others by how they know themselves. Those that are trusting are often the ones that are tricked or deceived because they look at others as they are themselves.

      The point being folks like booty who look at God the Creator of the universe as evil really can't see further than their own heart.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  14. Random

    Hmmm well if God does exist and he did create the entire universe then the aurora shooting would be like a small ant hill on the entire planet. So why did we let the one ant hill on the entire planet get squashed.........well because we did that's why. The world moves forward. People believe in a god because they want to feel like when they or when loved ones die, they go to a happy place. For every person, good or evil, that has ever lived, there has always been at least one person who said when they died, "they are in a better place now" or "their pain and suffering is over".....so depending on perspective, we all go to heaven at some point. I'm not that naive to think that we are ruled by some other rule than any other animal or insect or plant on this planet. When we go, we go. Energy is transferred, life moves on. Humans are elitists and we think we are different. We aren't. We never have been. The sooner we acknowledge that we aren't privileged, the sooner we can begin taking care of the world around us and enjoying life.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  15. broncofanssuck


    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  16. kahikokoa

    Original question is "Where was God in Aurora massacre", the answer is, there is no such God. The so-called God only stands for hope which never materializes to begin with. The highest form of animal can only look out for itself amid the scores of evil doers.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  17. JM

    Lenny Said:
    "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?"

    So where was god during great tragedy BEFORE we did all of the things you mentioned above? Where was god for the Tsunami in 2005? They weren't Americans. Where was god for the Mt. Vesuvius eruption of AD79 that wiped out Pompeii? Surely they hadn't done any of the things you mentioned here.

    God isn't an American. God doesn't care about our politics. God doesn't belong to white, protestant males with guns on their hips and anger in their hearts. And as if Jesus would ever own a gun or vote republican.

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

      :: applaudes ::

      July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  18. Dave

    God does care, but reserves his judgement for another time. God does not interfere with our lives or our behaviour. Jesus taught that those who help themselves are in favor with God. Living and dying are not important to God. Following his commandments is important. The lives lost in the theatre were not lost because God doesnt care. In fact, many, if not all of those those lives, were saved. We have to temporarily live without them. It's a mistake to judge God or to pretend that we know his plan.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  19. Name*andy

    Common misconception: The words "peace on Earth" are nowhere to be found in the Bible. God never promised that just because you believe in him that bad things won't happen.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  20. jimmy

    it all has to do with free will. if we did not have free will, and everything was controlled and taken care of by god, we would be nothing more than little soulless robots and our lives would certainly not be worth living. it also has to do with the dualistic nature of existence, which is something that all religions and philosophies contend with. there has to be evil in order for there to be good. there has to be death in order for there to be life. man had to "fall" in order to be saved. really, the agnostics and atheists who think they are so smart by questioning god seem incredibly dim when they ask "where was god?" i don't have answers to all the big questions in life, but it seems like they have never even asked themselves these questions. it is probably easier for them to just blame obama or blame the 1% for everything bad that happens.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 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.