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. Drew

    god is where is where he was left,God gave us free will, he wants to help us if we invite him

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

      Hey I got a great idea ! How about everyone just put aside whether there is or is not a God and just live their lives as decent people.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  2. tonythecroat

    If you don't believe in GOD then be it. Do you want sympothy? We don't care the history, literature, point to one direction. Do ya actually think we came here from nothing? Do ya think we had been put on this earth in rotation around the sun for thousands or millions of years by chance. Please.... If you don't beleive in a maker fine youll find out in the next life that you failed miserable in the first life, that you didn't exercise a gift only us creatures can experience.... FAITH. How could the messionic prophecys even take place ? Look it up ... the odds of predicting the Son of God are unimaginable. Be like children my brothers and sisters at least beleive in something anything else is ignorant and unhuman.

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

      Tony you are saying all the things science has evidence of is wrong and everything we know man wrote and thought up is true? What is the evidence of any god? Someone please give us a hard fact that god is real.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Floyd-Barber

      Please, all those stories in your made-up book are not original. They were taken from older texts and religions. Ask any Jewish person about the "Son of God"

      July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • jshutches

      You are aware that the Earth is about a trillion times smaller than a grain of sand when compared to the size of the universe...you honestly think that "a maker" gives two sihts about what we do? Not to mention your religions were mostly created 1-3 thousand years ago when people didn't know the world was round, where babies came from, what a star was or that the Americas even existed....I'm guessing you believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy as well, maybe not the Tooth Fairy that would just be ridiculous.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  3. jshutches


    July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  4. Shadowflash1522

    The problem of evil is a semantic dilemma. How does one reconcile a god that can do anything with the idea that some things are undoable? Can god create a rock so heavy he can't lift it? If god knew the massacre would happen, why didn't he stop it? Maybe he has all the power ("omnipotent" = "all-powerful") but is still bounded by possibility–i.e. today cannot be both Wednesday and not-Wednesday at the same time, no matter how much power you throw at it, because it's not possible. Maybe this god-thing knows everything, but the future is not a thing which can be known.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  5. Luis R.

    We all have evil just like we all have the capacity to develop cancer; this is not God's fault but our society's. The pressure to succeed is really high and sometimes when the wrong factors such violence in TV, violent gaming, etc are combined in our lifes it can trigger evil on some of us. It is our responsability to change this new pushy and demanding lifestyle. God did not invent technology, he gave us capacity to think and create things, we chose to put more efforts on selling fire arms instead of getting checked for cancer.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  6. broncofanssuck


    July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |


    July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  8. Kenrick Benjamin

    God does not permit anything other than that of his commandments and the commandments of his son Jesus. Everthing else is subject to consequences, that's why Mr. James Holmes must now face the consequences for his actions.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  9. Jody

    God gave us free will, and this guy did what he wanted with his free will. If you want to see God's work in this, remember that his high powered semi automatic rifle jammed, and this alone may have saved numerous lives. Thank God for that.

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

      God jammed his rifle? Really? LOL

      July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • rsully

      Why didn't he have him ram his car into a tree on the way to the theater?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  10. KF

    Evil cannot exist without good, otherwise it is just an act. Is it evil when a bear kills a deer? A man? A bear does not have free will and a man does. Even though God knows all that has and will happen, he lets man decide for himself/herself to follow Jesus or evil. To Him, there is no level of sin, just sin. We rank it, it is our decision to punish a killer worse than a theif. And, in my opinion, rightly so. It is hard for us to understand this kind of evil. I can't understand it. There is a lot that is beyond my reasoning, but not God's. How simple it must seem to him, but I cannot understand. I have children and a wife, I don't think God has tested me like this because he knows I could not handle it, I'm not strong enough. I could not live without them and be the type person I need to be to go to Heaven. I hope these people find the good in what God does and not fail like I would against this evil act. I just cannot understand what they are going through. As far as was God there, who made the gun jam? Who kept someone from tripping the explosives in the apartment? Who allowed some to live? I believe they live for a purpose.

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

    it is not just America,, but the whole world who will phase destruction for not knowing , and obeying Gods will .

    July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  12. kirkewilliams

    Nice try CNN. There is no god.

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

    The same place he always is, in the some of the brains of the ancestors of the people who invented him.

    Shame on you cnn, a news orginazation with such a nonsensical article regarding a real tragedy. Stick to reality cnn!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Rob R.

      Thank you. Shame on you CNN.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • arnolmel

      I can't believe that the first thing I saw when I opened the CNN website was this story. Blech. If I wanted to get my news from Fox, I'd go there. What a shame.

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

    There's no God but Allah. Allah makes decision in life and death. People killed in Aurora, they were chosen by Allah and they had to go because Allah said so. Makes sense?

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

      That would make sense to a total idiot

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

      Practice Islam, then you will see the truth.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • rsully

      I am just saying the shooter is the one who is responsible not allah, that is why he will be punished, because he had a choice not to kill

      July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Caroline

      A message can't be received without a better effort to deliver it. Merely repeating what we received as sound truth coming from another, can not render perfect understanding to ourselves. When we understand Love and that God is Love, we will listen clearly to the internal for guidance on speaking and communicating with each and everyone. One must understand what "God" is before issuing responsibility. God creates, Hate destroys. The man who chooses to kill instead of love, is walking in hate, obviously, so this should ease the question of if God is responsible for the movie massacre.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  15. Bootyfunk

    God = the tooth fairy, santa claus, easter bunny

    get over it.

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

      Please, don't lump Santa in with the rest of those creatures. There is far more evidence for the existence of Santa, than there is for all those others combined.

      A belief in Santa Claus is far more reasonable than a belief in any of the others.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  16. Papa

    Stephen Hawking, smartest and most educated man on the planet says there is no God. Millions of people flock every week to churches led by Pastors who barely have more than a high school education. Who you gonna believe ? My money would be on Mister Hawking

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

      Smart is the ability to memorize information, being smart wont help your spirit when terror comes knocking at the forehead door to your existence.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  17. dave

    We have lost our way and we are slowly ( actually quickly) reaping the fruits or a Godless society and brother you aint seen nutting yet!!!!!!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • crp0499

      Indeed and some of these comments are hastening His return.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Papa

      Dave, if believing in an invisible man living in the sky watching over you is required for you or anyone else to make them be a good person and to live their lives doing good for other people, then so be it and I commend you. But personally, it is sad that so many people such as you make that such a requirement in order to qualify as a good person.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  18. Sean

    God was right next to pikachu, the devil, santa, and every other made up character children believe in

    July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  19. Ashley

    I wasn't going to comment but honestly I find it insulting to the people that gave their lives in this tragedy to say that "God was there in those who sacrificed their lives to save friends and loved ones." No. You don't have a right to say that. You don't have the right to say that God was the reason that those people were brave and protective and loving enough to defend others at the cost of their lives. The reason that they died was because they went above and beyond what was expected in order to save another person because they were good and selfless people. Don't you dare give the credit that they deserve to some god, just because you need a way to say he helped at all. Don't use their lives as a way out for your god that they may or may not have believed in. Shame on you, Michael.

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

      Well said!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  20. I AM

    Gods will. It is the liberals fault. We always look to blame someone or something for some horrible act. When, in reality, there probably isn't an acceptable explanation. That is, an explanation that would make 'reason' out of such an incident. For those that believe it is Gods will, I say , I don't think so. I would hope that God does not sanction the killing of moviegoers. The Liberals, taking God out of public places, I don't think so either. If your child doesn't know God, it isn't the schools fault, it is yours , or your church. It is not up to the schools to teach your child about God. That is the place of parents and pastors. What happened here is a terrible tragedy that will probably be repeated again in our lifetime. It has been done before and will happen again.. It is very sad, but very true.

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

      Oh yes. Please do spin this so we can blame liberals for God killing all the first born sons of Egypt back in the day. The gods are cruel.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • I AM


      What are you talking about? I didn't blame the liberals, another person in the article did. Please read what I wrote again, past the first line.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:01 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.