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. Jermayne LeBlanc

    I know from Scriptures that its not Gods will that any should perish, but it is the will of man to be ashe chooses. For instance, the first sin ever commited in our Bible, was murder, against his brother. So, we know all ready, what's right from wrong, and we don't need the media hyping it up. God didn't strike Cain down, he let him go, and then made what we know as the Law. And we all know Murderers are the MOST hated by God. If you don't know ask your local pastor, or read Revelation,? They won't make it to Heaven. Because, Forgiveness is a Blessing. God won't bless America, until America blesses God. I witnessed killings before,growing up in rough neighborhoods,beatings from cops,teachers in class smoking ciggerettes, people coming to school shooting and fighting. All I'm saying is to someone of my background, this Colorado thing, isn't new where I'm from. My childhood friends are dead, but I won't hear about that, it seems, in my opinion, unless a bunch of caucasians or a school, residence, or where there are few Blacks get murdered, then it a "tragedy". But as we see, genocide touches all races, faiths, and bounds. Love was told by my God to be the cure for the worlds problems. Love him/her as yourself, and trust God. Easy, right?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  2. Effed


    If you believe in a Christian God, you believe in eternal life.
    If you believe in eternal life, you believe in resurrection.

    IF- you believe this, THEN- a human life span is a barely visible blip in an eternal life. SO- no matter how horrific the suffering is in this Earthly life, it's only an infinitesimal, short, duration of pain.

    In your next life, you'll be fine.

    IF- you believe this shjt

    July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  3. Anita B

    Open your minds completely and look at science rather than religion that man has created – Let's face it and be honest, all religions are myths and there is no evidence of anything else – teach religion by all means, but as myths not facts. Just my opinion mind you.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  4. gmenfan54

    Don't forget... God created James Holmes.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Jermayne LeBlanc

      Noooo, his mom and dad created him, Scripture says to raise your child in fear and knowledge of the Lord. Now, if that would have been, he would have been praising God, other than killing a bunch of people. Satan had his mind, and everyone who doesn't where the Armour.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  5. The Asian Atheist

    A priest walks up to a man and says, "do you know about the glory of god?"
    The man replies, "never heard of the guy".
    The priest continues, "If you believe in the everlasting god you will live forever in paradise, and if not, burn in eternal hellfire"
    The man then asks, "what if i did not know about god, would I still go to hell?"
    The priest thinks a moment and says, " well, no, god will not punish you if you did not know".
    The man then says, "well then why did you tell me?"

    July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @The Asian Atheist

      LOL ! 😀


      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  6. the intelligent liberal

    Its funny how people don't go to church, don't read a bible....but once something bad happens its gods fault???

    July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Get Real

      I don't say it is an imaginary god's fault.

      But IF you are going to play the believer game, go to church, read the Bible, and claim that this "God" controls *everything*, then you have to fault it for this... and all other tragedies and mishaps.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Jermayne LeBlanc

      How verrrrry true. There are more than one religon, so why don't people blame Islamic Allah, for genocide against their own followers, in their own land, could it be Buddah, or how about the DahliLama? Hell, just blame the President!!!! Ugh, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord

      July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  7. Mickey

    Must be that only Christians were murdered. Crosses are Christian, right?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  8. Jason

    God created a world that was perfect, but he also created mankind with a freewill. God wasn't looking for slaves, he children to love and to have a relationship with. With that comes a choice. There was a choice that was given in the garden, and it's a choice we still have today. We can choose to be fulfilled by our creator, or we can try to satisfy ourselves by something else. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they were telling God that he was not enough for them. They wanted something more. They wanted control. We call this sin, because it falls short of God's perfect plan for mankind. Romans 1 talks about God's judgement on sin, and it shows us something interesting. God's greatest wrath on sin is simply allowing us to experience the natural consequences of it. Thus, when we tell God we want something other than him, he lets us go and try to find it. The problem is that in our sin, we hurt ourselves and in many cases others in the process. In our sin, we commit acts of violence. In our sin, we destroy our relationships with others. In our sin, we lie, cheat, steal, hate, and try to fill the desires of our emotions. The problem is that nothing we can try will work.

    Some people say that God is mean or cruel by allowing things like this to happen, but it is not his desire for these things to take place. He is not to blame. The sin of humanity as a whole is to blame. Our incessant search for forbidden fruit is to blame. The sin nature of humanity creates hurt, pain, heartache, death, and destruction, not God.

    In fact, though God could have, in his justice on mankind, easily left us in a condemned state, he has instead chose to reach down to us in love, through his son Jesus Christ, and offer forgiveness of our sinfulness. He wants to restore the broken relationship we have with him. And, he proved it through his blood. He doesn't hate the world, he has loved it. He's not absent, he came to us and is present. His blood has overcome sin for whoever might trust in it.

    But there is the key. There has to be a trust and faith on our part. THis is what is blatantly absent in our world today. How can we expect God to reveal himself or show up with power when we have told him we don't want him, when we have chosen to fulfill ourselves by other means. The created has stared into the eyes of the creator and said, "I don't need you." I believed that God has politely obliged our request.

    THis world will be broken and the effects of sin will remain until God chooses to end this world. Why is he waiting? He wants more to be rescued from their sin and trust in his grace. What are you telling God? Are you crying out in need for him, or are you choosing to look for fulfillment elsewhere?

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

      Maybe it's time to remember God's words: Thou Shalt Have No Other god before Me!

      People chose to change His rules.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  9. S

    So are we talking the genocidal old testament God, or the nicer new testament God?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Hogan's Goat

      So are we talking the genocidal old testament God, or the nicer new testament God?
      *I think it's Darth Vader.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  10. Gmck

    if there is an all mighty, all knowing, all powerful god who sees these kinds of things happening, and dies nothing to stop it, then he's worthless god. If I actually believed a god existed who would sit back and let these things happen, I would hate him. Free will? nonsense

    July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  11. ACA

    I strongly believe the individual who committed this was not James Holmes, but someone who's soul was taken over by the devil. His appearance is of someone who has constantly been fighting demons for a long time and after he did what he did, those demonic spirits left his body. God is here but so is the devil. We must recognize that we need to continue to believe in our Lord and have faith in him. These acts are unbearable and have no right to exist in our world, but they do. We need to keep praying and acting more and more as Christians. We need to spread God's message to those that need to hear words of love and faith.

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

      @ ACA

      You have presented one of the most enlightened postings on this board so far.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "God was there and is there all the time. Our society has just chosen not to acknowledge Him. Then when tragedies like this happen, we come out asking for where he is. "
      You need psychiatric help yourself if that actually what you believe happened. Meanwhile, please do not listen to those voices. Get help; we're all on your side so don't kill us. People are shot and killed every day by undiagnosed schizophrenics who believe that their friend or spouse or child has become "possessed."

      July 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  12. Henry

    The all powerful creator of all things does not manage or micromanage. It does not intervene. It has no human attributes. We are on our own. There is no judgement. There is neither a heaven nor a hell. We develop spiritually. Some are slower than others.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  13. helensadornmentsblog

    I don't believe God is a man up in the sky that allows or disallows suffering for mankind. I think of God as the positive and loving energy that can be tapped into by feeding our spiritual needs. We all have both good and evil within us, the side that is fed is the side that grows.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  14. mbi

    God was there and is there all the time. Our society has just chosen not to acknowledge Him. Then when tragedies like this happen, we come out asking for where he is. How come we never ask where he is when things are bright and fuzzy. He gave us free will and right to make our own decisions, but some of us are doing a pretty good job is still screwing things up. Let the actions of one person not cause us to even doubt the presence and strength o our One True God Jesus Christ.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "God was there and is there all the time. Our society has just chosen not to acknowledge Him. Then when tragedies like this happen, we come out asking for where he is. "

      Jesus Christ, are you saying that God was SULKING and that's why He didn't intervene? Aw, is God having a bad day? Your religion is like a nightmare.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Mickey

      The problem is that people pray to Jesus instead of to God!!

      Nothing good has come of that decision.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • JC

      'The problem is that people pray to Jesus instead of to God!!' See Dad, they pray to ME. Snap! You lose again. That's ten you owe me now.

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

    God's sun shines on both the good and the bad. If we live only for this world, then there is no sense to it all. The Lord of all says "let the weeds (evil people) grow with the wheat (God's people) until the harvest (end of the world). Then we shall see justification, that is our hope.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  16. sleepytime

    It's so disgusting seeing all these religious clowns, as usual, descending like vultures to exploit this tragedy as some kind of marketing tool for their church.

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

      hey goonmobile, it's LIBERAL NEWS like this that's exploiting it to improve their horrible rating.

      What a complete imbecile.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Aw, what's wrong with religious clowns? You ought to see me use deflated balloons to act out the story of David and Saul and the 100 foreskins.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  17. Bible Clown©

    God was playing putt-putt golf. He really enjoys it, so don't judge Him lest ye be judged in turn.

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

      There is a god, but not anthropomorphized as most religious nuts think. God is both sides of the coin, good and evil, it doesn't care...we do. We make the choice. So all you folks out there who think God is good and in control...think again, you simple minded souls!

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

    GOD was there; but so was satan!!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      They were betting on whether or not the baby would be shot and killed. God won $50.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  19. Mike

    God doesn't exist.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • You Know Who

      Mike doesn't exist

      July 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Animal

      Your mom doesn't exist.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  20. God was busy

    He wanted to help, but he was on hold with Verizon, waiting for customer service.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Peace2All

      Holy crap... you got that one right ! LOL ! Their cs s-u-c-ks ! 😯


      July 25, 2012 at 1:53 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.