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. PaulBel

    If god is merciful, where was the mercy?
    If god is loving, does this show love?
    If got is vengeful and vindictive, who needs him?
    If there is a god and he doesn't intervene in the shooting death of a six year old, then what good is he?

    For 3,000 + years, mankind has worshiped lightening, volcanoes, oceans, trees, rocks, the sun, and anything else that he cant understand. So-called pastors attribute earthquakes and hurricanes (and the murder of six year old children) to god's will. TV preachers and religious pundits wail that the veil of protection has been lifted because we don't follow god's will (translation: their warped perceptions of what is supposedly god's will).

    Religion has been responsible for more suffering, more hatred, more divisions within our species than anything else I can think of. It has spawn senseless deaths an massacres, destroyed civilizations, brought brother against brother and enslaved the minds and free wills of countless people.

    I sometimes wonder if and how our planet will survive with this corruption of life that has been organized religion. We have had thousands of years to grow out of this senseless dependency, but it seems that the ignorance and hatred that religion has given us will be around forever.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  2. Mark

    We are here to be tested and tried. To see if we will learn and follow His will. Seldom does God stop the acts of His children as we are given our agency to act as we wish, for good or ill, to believe in Him or not believe. I do not believe that He wanted it or caused the events of Thursday night to happen. It is up to each of us to learn, react, act and change or not change from the events.

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

    God is not real, he was created to keep the people in their place. Simple as that. If some people need to believe in him to get through to the next day im fine with that..... Its just not real.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • jg

      Kevin, the devil that God created has more faith than you!!!! that's just sad, what a sad human being walking the face of this earth, which God Created, I bet you don't even believe in this earth and the air you breath, that God created. huh?

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

      So true.

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

      jg – you are a moron.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  4. Rahn

    Seriously ? Where was god ? You're really asking this question ? Are you asking it so you can read all the &$%#@& answers that people will make up as mysterious excuses why an imaginary character didn't magically stop the bullets. Oh please. This is just ridiculous. You might as well be asking where was Santa Claus ? After all, santa does watch us all the time. Grow up people and start living your lives as ADULTS. Leave the fairy tales behind and stop looking for answers from an invisible sky daddy. If you want to worship anyone. Worship the manufacturers of bullet proof vests. At least they offer some REAL protection.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  5. varun


    dehino 'smin yathā dehe / kaumāraḿ yauvanaḿ jarā
    tathā dehāntara-prāptir / dhīras tatra na muhyati

    As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  6. Mike S.

    I think a better question is, what would you have God stop in this world? Where should God draw the line, and who's perspective should He use to do so? The Bible is clear on what behavior God approves and what He disapproves, and many of those same behaviors are on societies approved list. He's not going to abolish one and allow the other to continue. You want free choice? Well the consequences of terrible choices are part of that. Its also clear that you cant get into Heaven by good deeds. No one can be good enough for God, so there is no point in trying to categorize degrees of sins and tragedies. Only by faith in God, accepting Jesus' sacrifice as real, and accepting Him as your Lord and Savior can you get into Heaven.

    God sent His son to endure death on the cross for ALL mankind. He doesnt want anyone to die and go to hell regardless of how their deaths occur. He gave His son, who willingly marched to his death sentence, so that all of us could have the easiest of routes to Heaven...faith and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior. It doesnt get any easier than that. How many people do you know would march to a scourging and be nailed to a cross for anyone, let alone people you dont know or might not even appreciate the sacrifice?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  7. Ken

    Not surprised by this story, surprised it took CNN so long to publish this story. Liberal propagation of a loving God wouldn't let this happen. Blah Blah Blah. You will find out God exists when you are calling on Him while you are burning in hell.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • GOD

      Yeah, I'll get back to you.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  8. jose

    greed and corruption and media, video games, and the production of guns, are at fault for the crimes , but it wont matter cause we make money, ha and taxes , and we blame God???

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  9. gmurg

    God can not, does not directly interact with this plane of reality/existence. Good and evil are the same as right and wrong, light and dark. Its harmony, its what orders chaos. You cannot have one without the other because then they'd have no purpose or reason. What does God have to do with this shooting, aside from creating existence, and so this planet and humans. Absolutely nothing. We were given freewill, what we choose to do with the options in our world is our responsibility.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  10. rufus

    God shuffled his feet.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  11. Gee Gog

    Where was God in Somalia, Buchenwald, Vietnam, Iraq, etc? Why single out Aurora? BTW, God is everywhere. Man has choices to make. Often we choose evil.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  12. Peter

    To me what is interesting in this debate is the fact that many people think God equals Christianity. There are many other religions out there and frankly billions of people who believe in a God that is different than the one written in the Bible.
    And to those who say that God did this because the ten commandments are not used in the courtroom and the Bible is not used in schools anymore etc, my question would be so all these other people both in and outside of the US deserve to die because they define God differently?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  13. Bull

    God was in all of those people who gave their lives to protect others. He was in those that helped get medical aid to the injured despite how terrified they were. God was there.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Pam R.

      What an absolute load of rubbish. No imaginary friend was with anyone. Just either good or bad fortune as to where those poor people were sitting when the deranged nut started shooting.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  14. Don

    God (whomever that is) obviously takes a hands off approach when it comes to humanity. We are on our own. If god oversaw the countless molestings of young children in who knows how many catholic churches for decades and did nothing (and this took place in his own house of worship no less) why would he intervene here? Christians are naive in this regard..in that when a tragedy like this occurs, it is labelled in a gray area as god works in mysterious ways....yet if by some freak act, or happening, this tragedy was avoided or stopped...suddenly it is clearly defined as a miracle, or answered prayer or god at work. After all, god did send a flood and drowned thousands of men women and children in the old testament did he not? Because we have a vengeful angry god...god did test Abraham by asking him to stab his own son in the chest? That is kind of evil if you think about it. Makes you wonder ?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  15. andrew

    'Harleyxx' got it right! Shame on that one pastor for attributing evil things to God

    July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  16. GOD

    Sorry about not getting my copy of the Dinosaur Bible to you humans... My Bad on appointing Raptor Jesus to write it back then... that guy is all claws and can't write worth a damn.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  17. Siquorney

    The real ruler of this world is Satan the Devil.
    The Bible says “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) This world reflects the personality of the devil who is misleading earth. A second reason why there is so much suffering is that mankind has been imperfect and sinful ever since the rebellion in the garden of Eden. Sinful humans tend to struggle for dominance, and this results in wars, oppression, and suffering. (Ecclesiastes 4:1; 8:9) A third reason for suffering is unforeseen occurrence. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) In a world without God as a ruler, people may suffer because they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  18. He'sNotHere

    Let's all put our belief in a magical man in the sky because we're too afraid to think and act on our own. IF God is real he doesn't care about you, or anyone. Those who teach his works are slowly being recognized as either pedophiles or like Fred Phelps, neither of which is the "Christian way". Open your eyes, people. Show me in the bible where senseless acts like the Holocaust, 9/11, the Aurora shootings, Columbine, OKC Bombing, ect, are deemed acceptable.
    If there is a "God" watching all of this going on and not intervening, I'll gladly spit in his face and tell him to send me to Hell.
    We easily existed 98,000 years before this concept of a man upstairs was introduced to scare you into an organization's agenda; this one day will fizzle too when our population stops being a bunch of ignorant fools.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  19. vince

    Since many different faiths have a concept of God, I will only talk about Christians here. I think there really needs to be better education among both the general public and among Christians themselves that when someone says "I am a Christian" they are referring to their particular sects viewpoint of what it means to be a Christian. Christian is an umbrella term that encompases a wide range of belief systems. Quakers, Baptists, UCC, Roman Catholic, Orthodoxies all have vastly different interpretatios of how God works and his place in the activites of the world (by the way this is the same for Jews, and Muslims - many different sects and subtle differences in belief systems). So to say "I am a Christian and I believe so and so" is not very accurate because it doesn't mean much. Better to say "I am an Old Testament Southern Baptist" or a "strict conservateive tradional Methodist" to make discussion more relevant. I think this is important and relevant to the discussion, because though nominally Christian/Episcopalian, I don't believe in the whole predestination crap. I follow the teachings of Jesus as best as possible, particularly the part about loving God (the creator, the universe, the lifeforce of all creation etc) and love each other (care about each other at all times and implement the golden rule). Life just happens for better or worse - it's how we deal with it that shows our inner nature and whether we really understand the teachings. Tragedies happen, whether it is a shooting in a theatre, a mall, a college campus, or a plane crash, a war, 911, a genocide that kills 6 million .. It's how we respond individually that makes difference. And that's why as follow of Jesus, we pray to God to forgive our sins both the things we have done - and the many things that we have left undone (fixed/repaired/resolved ) with the hope that will fix those things and become better people. No I don't think God is responsible for what happened, but we are responsible to God and each other for our reaction to it.

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

    I have to agree with some of the previous posts. God was present with all those in the theater that night. He was saddened by the act of evil and no doubt cried for those killed and injured as well as for the families effected. He is still present, sharing in the unity of the community and bringing HIs healing grace to those effected that seek HIm. God has given man the freedom of choice. We are able to do good things or bad as a result. It is not to say God does not care. It will not be until He returns that the mysteries of this world and HIs plan are revealed.

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

      perhaps there is no god and it is you who are saddened by the events and your thoughts are with those present in the theater that night. How would look any different from what was observed? The basic problem of evil is that If god is unable to prevent evil, then he is not all powerful, if he can prevent evil but does not then he is evil.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:07 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.