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. terribadratings

    🙂 There's plenty of reasons CNN HAS THE WORST RATINGS IN HISTORY!

    Keep it up you liberal cesspool!


    July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  2. Wade

    This is all happening because the end is near. Christ is coming back and as Christ warned us...horrible things would happen before his return.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Yes...yes... the 'end' is near, as it always seems to be for the evangelicals.


      July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Dyslexic Dog

      and you read this where? In a book? oh, then it MUST be right.

      Go back to watching FOX News too. If they say it, it must be right.

      Seems no matter how big the lie, if someone says it often enough and loud enough, there will be people who believe it.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  3. nolongerarepublican

    God was NOT at that movie theater, because He does not believe in promoting violence and murder as entertainment.
    Besides, the killer was atheist, so God has nothing to do with him either.
    God gives us total freedom, if we allow things like these murders to happen, it's our fault.
    God is not the US Government, who pretends we are free, but controls every part of our life.
    God is certainly not going to allow us to use Him when we need Him, and then tell Him to get lost on other things.
    There's your answer.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Dyslexic Dog

      Holmes was remembered by neighbors and friends as a quiet church going young man ... so he was Christian. Not an athiest at all.

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

      And exactly how do you know what is on god's mind?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  4. Pat

    To think there's some omnipotent/omniscient being that knows what everyone's thinking or impacts/controls the actions of man and nature is delusional and an attempt to rationalize the irrational. Seriously, who could truly believe that "god" picked who was to live and die in an Aurora movie theatre?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  5. believer

    Because free will goes both ways.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  6. Arthur Knackmus a poet

    The Bible says Satan is the god of this evil world and the world is in the power of the Evil One. The purpose of life is to show us the human life is all wrong. Jesus who is God is always in control. The best humans on earth are nothing but Hell deserving sinners at best.. Ask God for forgivness. God is omnipresent and He was watching what He did not want to happen but He allowed it to happen to fullfil His plan.

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

      from where? i need some gps coordinates

      July 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Einstein

      Scholars have proved definitively that the so-called Bible was written over many hundreds of years by many different people and not by your imaginary god. Patterning your life after an obsolete book that, for example, decrees that a disobedient son should be stoned to death is simply stupid.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Way to go Einstein. not really since you haven't said anything really shocking or worthwhile. I doubt you know anyone that thinks that any book of the Bible was written by God.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  7. LtHenryOak

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”

    July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Dyslexic Dog

      @LtHenryoak - Amen to that!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  8. Forrest Booth Jr.

    God was there, it was not his will to have these people die though. But he was there, his presence was made known in the hearts of those that died for a stranger and a love one by throwing their own body in the line of fire. John 15:13Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. It's easy to blame God for all the bad things that happen its hard to thank God for all the blessings we don't see. This senseless act was not of God. God will use this tragedy for good. We just have to open our hearts and our eyes to his love and to his actions on a daily basis.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  9. gigi


    July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  10. Jack

    You don't need God when you have Batman. WHERE THE HELL WAS HE?!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  11. Nick R

    I don't have anything against people who believe in God but in this day in age with the advancement in the many fields of science, it becomes very apparent that God was basically an easy answer for the questions early humans could not answer. It has somehow made it all the way through till this day and age, although it seems the youth these days are leaning ore towards science than religion. If you enjoy church and it helps you by all means go, Im a fact based person and we came from apes and fish #CharlesDarwin

    July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  12. Chris D

    Wow CNN, you are using this tragic event to put people against one another. This might have been done in the thought of a good discussion/debate but in the end it will just cause people to get mad at each other. I'm not going to give an opinion about where was or if there is a god, because it tears society apart. So instead of having people argue with each other actually cover something about the killings. Whether you believe in god or not this was a horrible event and will most likely never be understood.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • fluke300

      What is this next world you speak of?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  13. broncofanssuck


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

      Bunch of knuckleheads....god was there, witnessed it. God doesn't prevent bad things from happening. God helps us recover. God will give the killer his due. People kill people, not guns.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  14. Einstein

    At last count there were an estimated 7,000 different religions in the world. This being the case, it follows that at least 6,999 must be illusory. So what gives you the confidence that yours is the one? Chances are that they are all wrong and that God is the twin brother of Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. I am a World War 2 veteran and immediately after the war was stationed near the Mauthausan death camp. I spoke to the survivors. The 50 million who died included tens of thousands of infants, many by having their heads bashed against the wall or throw alive into the furnace. It included priests, ministers and rabbis, doctors and nurses, wonderful mothers and grandmothers and countless other blameless people. If there is a god who could have prevented this, he is a demon and is deserving of our contempt. If there is someone out there who cannot intervene in human affairs, it is pointless to pray to him - or rather it. In either case, religion is a delusional sham invented by people who desperately need something to hang onto because they can't face life alone.

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

      You are a hero, I have found you. You are telling the true and the fact, and you are keeping it real 100%. No doubt

      July 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Bill


      Thank you for your service....50 Million though is not even remotely close to the number it was around 500,000 to 1 million. I know it is still a huge number, but just wanted to point it out.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Bill

      Actually even my number is high. It is around 300,000. In fact total number of people killed in the entire war is around 17 Million.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  15. Amr Azim

    GOD is always here with us. Life is nothing but a test. Everything is already pre-defined by GOD. All innocent people who were killed in this tragic incident will go to Heaven only if they believe in the oneness of GOD! GOD have the right to forgive whom he pleases and not forgive whom he pleases. I mentioned here he – but I do not mean as a human being but as the One Supreme GOD. GOD is NOT AND CANNOT BE A HUMAN BEING.

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


      July 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  16. Perry

    I wish that none should perish that we all come to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through God the Father.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  17. M. Meyers

    The religious amongst us are always at the ready to make excuses for God. We are punished by a vengeful and petty deity because of what man does. Then find God in a children's cancer ward. If God is all powerful then explain all of the innocent deaths every year from ' natural disasters'. Let the excuses begin.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  18. LydiaMae

    I know that God exists because He healed and saved my marriage. After years and years of stressfull events that nearly pulled us apart, as a couple we read an awesome book, "Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas. I believe He allowed those extremely difficult times for us to be broken and in need of His divine healing.
    I pray that all of those hurting in Aurora will be drawn to Him too.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  19. mbg

    how disgusting of you to write this article. how appalling and irresponsible of CNN to allow it here. Your use of this tragedy as an opportunity to question belief in God or His plan makes me sick to my stomach. Your article immorally influences broken hearts and minds to question God. Who are you to do such a thing? This unspeakable horror was committed by a young man who desperately needed help, but now is eternally undeserving of it – both by this world and the next.

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

      Awesome question ahhahahahahahahahm, I am loving, F ing there is no God wake up people, you are all momster religion people.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      why do you declare him eternally undeservinig of help?
      Judge not lest ye be judged.
      Back to your bible study christian, you haven't "learned" anything yet.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • mbg

      in my opinion I find him eternally undeserving of help because my heart and mind are broken as well. And I am angry. The God I believe in understands this, even when you and I both do not. There is a difference between not understanding and questioning. My personal faith is the difference. I hope that whatever version of personal faith the victims and their families have helps to see them through as well.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  20. JDM

    If GOD is real, I choose Hell. The GOD of Christianity is like a parent who manipulates you using fear and guilt to control your actions. No thanks, GOD. I now understand why Satan rebelled against you. Satan and I shall have beers together on the beach of the fiery ocean. Shall I bring my Speedo?

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

      You will probably make satan puke if you bring the speedo.....

      July 25, 2012 at 1:57 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.