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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. Kent Mills

    It amazes me how many posters here are 'making excuses' for god, and trying to 'rationalize' the irrational. Try this simple proposition : There is no god. Now, everything makes sense. No funny, twisted logic required. Things happen. No one controls them are allows them to happen. You may not like this one bit, but anything else is silliness.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Steve in PA

      Now try this simple proposition...There is a God. Now everything makes sense 😉

      July 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Sigh

      Wow, Steve – what a comeback. We're all convinced now.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  2. Rich

    f o o l s to believe that nonsence about ole god....i mean money grubbing preachers.....just sayin

    July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • NeedNewGov

      Once you actually experience God, you'll change your tune. I hope you do sometime. I've experience toooo much to go back.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Romans

      "The fool in his heart says there is no God." Psalm 14:1

      July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Try Harder

      "Romans:" if you're arguing with someone who doesn't believe what a specific book says, quoting from that book isn't going to provide you with a strong argument.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  3. Skeptic

    Where was God in Aurora massacre? Like everywhere else, inside the cuckoo's head.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  4. Steve in PA

    God took those 12 victims into his arms and welcomed them into his Kingdom. He is proud of each of them, from the six-year old girl to the man who was 51. Those who gave their life to save another were given the best hug they have ever received.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  5. Norm

    God is not involved in our every day mundane activities.
    How arrogant of man to think he's the center of the universe and has God's constant attention and every action is "God's will".
    Only man could think he's that significant.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Madtown

      And, christians in particular, thinking they are "God's people", and all other human beings don't have the same amount of favor with God.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Romans

      The only people who are in favor with God are those who believe on his son Jesus Christ and believe his words to be true. This is not a merit based favor. Salvation is from God, not man's efforts so that no man can boast. Ephesians 2:9

      July 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Madtown

      Romans
      The only people who are in favor with God are those who believe on his son Jesus Christ and believe his words to be true.
      ------
      What a bunch of garbage, written by men who wanted to believe that they were special, and that God favored them over all other people You're a nitwit if you believe this. Are you special, relative to the other HUMAN BEINGS who've just never heard of christianity, because it's not available where they were born?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Romans

      @ madtown:

      "I am the way, the truth and the life. NO ONE comes to the father except through me." John 14:6

      "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Romans

      Every other religion in the world tells us that we are inherently good, godly, amazing and special. Christianity actually teaches the opposite. We are made in the image of God, but we are ALL sinners in need of a savior, that requires REPENTANCE. NO other religion teaches this. Christianity does not teach us that we are inherently good and that we just need to connect with the divinity inside us, and that we're all special butterflies. If you're looking for a man made religion, that glorifies humanity, you're not going to find it in Christianity.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Madtown

      Romans
      If you're looking for a man made religion, that glorifies humanity, you're not going to find it in Christianity.
      -----
      You're an incompetent buffoon. If I were looking for a man-made religion, I'd need look no further than christianity. It's not man-made? LOL!!!!!

      Also, you give a bible verse when asked why you think you're special in the eyes of God, relative to all other equally created human beings? A bible verse?!? Again, written by human beings who WANT TO BELIEVE THAT GOD CONSIDERS THEM SPECIAL. Ignorant fool.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  6. andy

    God is just pretend.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • NeedNewGov

      and your proof is?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Romans

      How do you know what you are experiencing right now is actually real? You can't even prove that.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  7. Cindy

    God exists, as well as the Devil.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Les

      There is no evidence of either God or the Devil.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  8. Robert Payne

    An all knowing and all powerful God would not allow such events. The answer is that there is NO such God. Just human beings who sometimes do bad things.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Romans

      God commanded such things in the OT. How do you know he wouldn't allow this kind of event? Why do you assume that there are some innocent people and some guilty people? There is only one type of person....sinners. We're all guilty from our mothers womb. No one is born innocent.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  9. ryantorgeson

    no God. Sorry. I know it's a nice thought but it's so insanely improbable.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • TC

      to narcissists that think they no everything and can speak for others experiences – yes.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • TC

      not no but know

      July 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Romans

      Improbable you say.....but you wont say its impossible. You can believe in your probability. I'll believe in the living God

      July 24, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Try Harder

      Personally, I believe in apostrophes. But apparently my kind is dying out.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  10. James

    The "all powerful, all loving" "god" that Christians love to trot out doesn't exist. If he allows mass shootings, he isn't all loving. If he can't influence people like the shooter away from that path, he isn't all powerful.

    Personally, I think "god" and "the devil" are one and the same. Besides.....weren't we made in "his" image, according to many Christian faiths? Well then, "god" is one mean jack@$$.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  11. Jeff

    There is no god. Will you children grow the hell up. A delusional man was able to get his hands on the materials needed to commit acts of senseless violence. America is certainly not ready to have gun control so how about we start psychological evaluations of people who want a weapon. Don't hand me this B.S. that they were ALL illegal. Mental illness can kill, let's not make it easy.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  12. lamard

    you guys are all a bunch of loonies!!!!!!!!!!!!SAD THING IS YOU PROABLE LOOK LIKE THE hOLMES GUY???????????

    July 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  13. This_Guy

    Watching you people debate and talk about an article named, "Where was God in Aurora massacre?", this seems to me an article waiting for attention. We, as humans, tend to look past the good and acknowledge the bad/evil. We look to blame God when a hurricane occurs BUT when a miracle happens, people seem to find ways to discourage or proof it false by the use of science or some BS excuse. You may believe in whatever you desire, but the truth is infront of ur eyes!

    July 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  14. Romans

    The only reason that any of us are alive and still standing upright is by Gods grace. In the same way a parent lets a habitually disobedient child touch a hot stove after repeated warnings, God also punishes by giving us up to our rebellion. Romans 1:24. We have only ourselves to blame. Individually, socially and corporately. Looking to blame God is a product of our sinful nature. We want only to blame others instead of ourselves.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • William Demuth

      So your God let Bozo blow the throat out of a child.

      Your God sucks, and If I EVER see him, I will personally nail him up again.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Les

      The real reason why God did not prevent this...is... because there isn't one. There is as much evidence for a GOD as there is for UFOs. If this is evidence, then It is evidence against.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Shadyjade

      If you chose to believe in the fairy in the sky that is certainly your right but to justify it but quoting a book written by man to keep people in line doesn't work. Your "God" did not put pen to paper and write the bible, that was man trying to keep you in line. How's that working for you?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • 20fivealive

      so are you saying those innocent people deserved to die because they have all done something so horrible bad in their lifetime that they should be punished as such?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Romans

      You're all illustrating exactly what I just wrote. Thank you for proving my point.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Good post Romans.

      Amen.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Romans

      Heaven Sent: Thanks

      July 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • inHISlight

      Exactly Romans. By his grace we are saved.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Stronger

      Romans, even someone as blind as you knows that replying to every response with "you're proving my point" is a completely weak cop-out.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  15. Sean Carroll

    To my brothers and sisters the American Church, as we see people struggle with the question of "Where is God?" let's not play debate team, but walk with them. The church has been hit hard with a question of where were they in James Holmes loneliness, which is a good question, where does the church pursue people? We must pursue people on Monday like we pursue a vistor's card on Sunday. Jesus pursued on the streets, he went to the bars, the brothel's, the back alleys and the church. He entertained the broken in His home. Do we do the same? The answer to that question will show America, and the world that Jesus is the answer not only on Sunday, but in real life. Grace and Peace brothers and sisters.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Sean

      Bozo was crazy BECAUSE of Christian madness, not in spite of it.

      Screw your God, he is an enabler of a baby killer.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Sean Carroll

      To my man WIlliam,

      God loves you bro.

      Romans 5
      New International Version (NIV)
      Peace and Hope

      5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

      6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

      9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

      Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ

      12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned —

      13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

      15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

      18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

      20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
      John 15
      New International Version (NIV)
      The Vine and the Branches

      15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

      John 15:

      5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

      9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

      The World Hates the Disciples

      18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’[c]

      July 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Good post Sean.

      Amen.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  16. Me

    I believe everything happens for a reason. I also believe that you are in control of your destiny. No one was put here God or man to take care of you and provide for you. You want change-than you have to initiate it. Don't sit back and expect someone else to do it for you. That said, I believe that God allows these acts to happen to remind all of us that life is precious, to make every moment count, live life to the fullest, love one another and help one another. If there were never any tragedy or evil in this world – no one would appreciate what they have. It is only because of those people who do see tradedy for what it is – that we are not less inhumane to each other.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  17. TC

    It is so ridiculous with the inflamatory question of "where is God?" The first thing disillusioned believers and non-believers do is question God (if he does exist) but don't stop to question the hatred, stupidity and mental problems of humans. Botton line – free will people. Whether you believe in a supreme being or not – behavior is all about people and freewill.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • William Demuth

      If God exists free will can not.

      The Bible is preordained.

      It INSISTS the whole thing is scripted.

      If that true, then your God deserves to be gassed with Bozo The Red Headed Child Killer

      July 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Romans

      @ WD:

      "If God exists then Free Will Can Not?????"

      How again did you arrive at this illogical conclusion???

      July 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Sean Carroll

      William,

      Calm down man. God loves you. He exists. You should read The Reason for God by Timothy Keller, it's a phenomenal book, praying with you man.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  18. mike

    My 18 year old son recently asked me whether I really believed in all the religious stuff at church. "Of course not" I said. "Well then why did you make me go to church and learn all that stuff?" he said. "Because my parents made me" I replied. And so it goes.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • TC

      So by you flawed logic, you are as idiotic as the guy that did the shootings becasue you "just do stuff without thinking it through"

      July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Romans

      That's quite a nice caricature you've built. Too bad its false. I didn't grow up in a christian home, but God found me. Now because of my faith and God's grace, my dad is a Christian. Don't paint with a wide brush. Your generalization is not always how it works, and even if it did, it doesn't always produce actual, real, born again Christians with changed lives.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  19. Jim K.

    The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides. — Carl Sagan

    July 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  20. Bill

    An all powerful god could have created mankind as a sort of race of robots, doing his will without question, but he didn't. the Biblte teaches us that mankind could have chosen to like in a peaceful world in harmony with all nature, but he chose instead to rebel. Do not blame God for man's failings.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, ghouls, goblins or guns

      Given that man created gods and there's is a very low probability that any actual supernatural gods exist, it would be very illogical to blame a god for anything.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • NeedNewGov

      Kudos. A very sane and realistic reply. If everyone lived their lives as God wants them to then the world would be a much better, peaceful, caring place. But the world doesn't so...

      July 24, 2012 at 4:59 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.