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. Alex

    I believe God doesn't really play specific roles in everyone's lives. He/She simply set up the universe, and left it to it's own will. For all we know, God may not even know we exist (Universe is a big place), depending on your definition of a God. God didn't create or prevent any tragedy: people did.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  2. Kevin

    As long as you're willing to give us non-believers a voice, I'll continue to support the belief blog. I commend you for that.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  3. What a stupid question.

    Firstly, what a dumb question. Where was you god? Apparently your god is everywhere and can perfectly predict the future (since he has it all planned out), so he not only saw it coming, but planned it to happen.

    Not only is your god not real, but you worship something that if it were real, is a serious ass hole.

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

      and you have a nice day too....sound sooo happy.....

      July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  4. mr. mark

    Christ said follow my advice on these two things, love God and love people. It's really that simple. If everyone would just follow that everyone would be ok. He didn't say love religion or lust after man made objects. Unfortunately, that's what most people do.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  5. Mike

    I believe both good and evil were present on that night in Aurora. But unfortunatly, I believe that evil is dominate not only on earth but throught the universe. And yes, it prevailed.

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

    God gives free choice to all of us. You have to be responsible for your choice inevitably.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  7. Ronald Raygun

    pharoahe monch – when the gun draws

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  8. jose

    it is people actions who defines which God you worship not where he comes from , there is only one true God,, creator of all things. and he is love ,,, not like the god of this system ,, satan,, that is why there is so much evil ,

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  9. Jason

    If God is actually willing to carry out a massacre of innocent people just because people are getting less inclined to worship him/ her 24/7, then God is not a benevolent ruler but instead a tyrannical despot.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  10. CKW1221

    Shame on you CNN. If you would have posted this about another religion or God you know that would be labeled offensive which is why you don't do so. Shame on you again for doing this while knowing that several of the victims' families are turning to God right now to get them through this horrific time. Must you spark a debate and make suffers question their faith during a time like this? You are sad.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  11. Unbelievable

    An atheist and a pastor were out playing golf. Every time the atheist missed a shot he would yell "GD-it I missed!" After a few missed shots the pastor proclaimed that God would be angry and smite the atheist if he kept saying that. The atheist was not impressed. On the final hole the atheist missed a 2-foot putt and once again yelled "GD-it I missed. All of a sudden the sky darkened and out of the clouds a thunderbolt struck and killed the pastor. Out of the sky a voice bellowed "GD-it, I missed!"

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  12. mhamiltontx

    God was there. He is always there. While He doesn't always do what we expect or desire, He was most certainly there. Rarely do we ask where he was when miraculous things happen. We attribute those things to science, medicine or karma. We've become a nation that looks for God when things go terribly wrong, expecting Him to intervene. Yet, we deny any credit to Him when things went incredibly well. A young child overcomes advanced leukemia...medicine and science were there. A damaged plane lands safely...the training of the pilot and luck are given credit. A horribly tragic event or catastrophic weather event..."where was God?" As a nation, we just don't want Him around, unless we need to blame Him for something.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  13. Tom

    It's pathetic how many posts I see blaming Liberals for something like this happening. There is no evidence for a god, and this is not a nation under god. Our founding fathers told us this was not a Christian nation, look up the Treaty if Tripoli. God claims should not be forced on public places, I'm sick of the comments saying we should. Shame on the bible freaks. If your god is real, he is an immoral one. And I would never worship him.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  14. abowman

    He was up at the north pole chilling with Santa Claus.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  15. CCR

    I see God's will in Aurora reflected in the people who were there for their families, friends and strangers in the theater that night. Stories where we label people heroes. Those people chose to act in God's will. The killer chose his own will, not God's will. God's will to me is always the greater good for all those involved and we have the choice to live in that way or to live in our own selfish or hurtful manner instead.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  16. jmoore

    Anytime there is a mass killing or major diaster everybody wants to know were God was. Yet when things are going good nobody cares about God. How sad! I believe God was there.It is not for us to ask why this happened For those who don't believe I feel sorry for you on judgement day.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  17. 1,000,000 Responses

    God is just a process – the process of caring. It's all around us and will never go away. Even a random dog will care for you.

    Death removes your body from time/space – but your energy goes on forever. Make your energy positive.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  18. Commander Shepard

    The fact that this is the headline article on your homepage should illustrate why your news organization is seen as a laughing stock (and has somehow managed to do worse in ratings that the propaganda stations of Foxnews and MSNbc). Get this garbage off the front page, stop preying on the emotions of the moment, and start actually reporting the news.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  19. Darlene Buckingham

    God is always here and speaking to us. It is up to us what we choose to do. Can you stop your child from doing anything? You can teach your child what to do but it is up to the child what he does. If your child decides to kill how could you stop him? God has always taught us not to murder because of the terrible consequences. Many people understand and choose not to murder. Eventually we learn how to take care of ourselves and value all life. Then God smiles.

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

      God has taught of murder, read the bible

      July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  20. ben

    god is not going to watch batman witn you if you asking where is him now,,,,and now you ask where is him,,,why,,we don't remember about him every day..

    July 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214
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.