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. josephpusateri

    Oh, the blindness of such a question... as if only theodicy was a relevant question in white, American suburbs.

    Where is God in Afghanistan?
    Where is God in Gaza?
    Where is God in Syria?
    Where was God in El Salvador or Guatemala or Columbia or Turkey or East Timor or Vietnam while American money and arms massacred innocent children?

    Where is God, indeed.

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

    God is in all the feeling and grieving hearts that want to lend a helping hand or comforting word. Simply put, God is in every heart that has room for humaneness, because God is love and love is God.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  3. Bill

    "Like" us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ThingsMormonsBelieve

    July 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  4. Mary

    God is a manifestion of human ideas that have evolved throughout our history. This is evidenced by the wide range of confident opinions in this forum . . . among believers and non-believers alike.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  5. Sandy

    Who do you think jammed the gun? God was there even when he allows evil to happen.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      mechanical error jammed his gun thankfully...your imaginary friend had nothing to do with it or your imaginary friend would have jammed the gun before he started firing or maybe your imaginary friend just didn't give a damn!!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  6. apalindromea

    I think people have misinterpreted God's omnipotence. Just because He has unlimited power it doesn't mean that the power itself doesn't have limits. I believe it is possible that His power is limited by certain natural laws. I also think that people misunderstand the purpose of this life. We are here to be strengthened through the trials that this life throws our way. God knows us better than we know ourselves, so even if He has the power to intervene, I would assume that He doesn't intervene if He knows that the trial will leave those affected stronger than intervention would have.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  7. wisdom4u2

    There is EVIL...doesn't matter if you believe in it, or not:

    31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

    “For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
    37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  8. Luke

    If we are not supposed to blame God when something bad happens, why do we thank him when something good happens?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  9. Kevin

    There is not now nor has there ever been a god. Deal with it.

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

      I love you and forgive your ignorance.

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

    For real CNN? This is news? Get this crap off your main page.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  11. jinxed

    I am sorry but who ever believes that God would have saved this is really stupid. In first place there is absolutely no god, its just a myth, secondly say even if god were to be there he or she could not have done anything to stop this massacare. This monster was determined to cause this damage and only someone taking him out very early would have stopped this.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  12. jp

    same place she's always been... nowhere. doesn't exist; gawd is a moronic fantasy and people who cling to the silly belief in a deity are bound to be... disappointed

    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  13. Alex

    Why was God not in Aurora?
    God is omnipresent meaning He is everywhere; so many people have put God in the very back of their minds, putting their own desires first. In the bible He tells us that he loves every single one of us, he payed the price on the cross for us. I bet you half of those people who passed away never knew God, never acknowledged him. How do you expect God to be there? Put yourself in His shoes. If you were God and all of these people never cared about you, what would you do? God is love, I've experienced it and am washed by his blood. But see I took the time to meet him, to have a personal relationship with him. Even if those people who passed away were good people. If they didn't have an encounter with God then that shows why he wasn't there. Maybe some of you people who are commenting on here maybe knew them and maybe you are even Christian. I bet you never took the time to share the gospel with them. Bottom line is God is everywhere but he truly takes care of those who give up their own desires to please His desires. It's all about God.

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

      You are making a HUGE mistake when you believe that the tragedy wouldn't have happened if God "would have been there"

      July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • grist

      A god that needs to be worshipped in order to refrain from acting like a monster or allowing a monster to act, is not a god worth worshipping. Of course it is all just mythology. Surprised many people still cling to this primitive idea. We need to all try to make the world a better place rather than relying on myths to come to our protection.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  14. lolol

    good job CNN. Some of us know of your DIVIDE AND CONQUER elitist tactics. A job well done for your NWO masters, you S C U M !!!!!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  15. Puma

    The God Debate

    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  16. Jason

    God is not a puppet master, that much is clear. God's will is the natural and moral law unfolding around us. Yet we have been given free will, and people get sick, and earthquakes happen. That is the life we have been given, and this is the nature of God. That doesnt mean God wants pain and suffering or refuses to stop pain and suffering, its just that these things happens according to God's nature, or will if you like. The Epicurus quote above is silly, it speaks to an anthropomorphic view of God and God's love. If it is not God's nature to step in and stop tragedy, so what? We are still bound by His natural and moral law, and ought to seek it out, study it and meditate on it (pray). I pray for the families and hope that they can find comfort and hope in the arms of God. There is a God, his hope for us was revealed in Jesus Christ and He loves us all.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  17. Terry

    The answer is........ We don't know where he was. My faith tells me that there is a loving God who wants what is best for us, but for reason's we do not understand he has chosen to give us a choice in right vs. wrong, good vs. evil. Unfortunately we often choose the dark side, which never works out well for us.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  18. Thomas Murray

    God allows evil to exist in the world. Why? No one can say. _erhaps the biggest mystery is: why does our suffering bring us closer to God? No one can say. But God is real, and he wants us to be close to him. It's easy after a massacre like this to question why these tragedies occur. Yes, a person can lay down one's burden and give up spiritually. But that spiritual hunger is there, and there is a reason for it. Invite Christ into your life.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  19. Mr. Positive

    What a joke, God isn't real and your all wasting your time speculating about this...Is it good to have faith in something? I suppose, but religion (God) is completely ridicilous in all forms and does not, but bring divide in people in our own country and throughout the world.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  20. Bootyfunk

    god is worthless. absolutely worthless.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 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.