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. anna

    God doesnt hate humans, humans hate humans.

    God cant be blamed for all the disasters in the world. We were put on this earth to try and make it better.
    Unfortunately it is getting worse. Why? Because people like this Holmes chap are allowed to kill and get away with it.

    We make our beds so now we have to lie in them.

    Aurora isnt the only catastrophe to happen and I dont suppose it will be the last.

    People just dont respect each other. Children have no direction, they are allowed to do as they please.

    God gave you life, what you do with it is up to you.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  2. Newport Pagnell

    CNN. You're "reporting" headlines like this while other real news outlets are reporting about the killers notebook found. Go back to reporting the news,you're looking silly...again.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  3. Sarah

    I agree with Harleyxx. The whole theme of the bible, and the reason Jesus came to the earth is to declare the coming of Gods Kingdom. The very first prophecy recorded in the bible points to it (Genesis 3:16). Man just doesn't have the ability to govern himself, we weren't made to (Jeremiah 10:23). So men are ruling here temporarily (and rather in effectively) until Gods Kingdom comes and wipes them all out (Daniel 2:44). The reason the world is so evil is because, according to the bible, Satan is the real ruler of this world (1 John 5:19), not God, as so many Christians believe. However, this situation is temporary, God is allowing men to try to rule themselves. The past 7,000 years of history has proven, no matter what the form of government (monarchy, totalitarianism, socialism, communism, democracy, etc...) it just doesn't work to everyone's benefit. A human can't legislate love, or morality for that matter. But a theocracy (rule by God) is the only form of government that can truly benefit ALL of its subjects. Perfect justice, no disease, no death, no fear, abundant food and housing for all, and that is just the tip of the iceberg that God promises faithful obedient mankind (Revelation 21:4, Micah4:4). The horrors we are seeing today are a reflection of the fact that we are living in the times that the bible calls "the last days" which would be "critical times, hard to deal with" (2Timothy 3:1-5, Matthew 24:3-39). Rather than lose faith and become overwhelmed with depression, TRUE (Matthew 7:21-23) Christians can rejoice, because they know their "deliverance is getting near" (Luke 21:28). People have a lot of ideas and opinions, but to a Christian, what should really matter isn't the words of a "pastor" , a "priest", or anyone else. What matters is what's written for us in Gods inspired word, the bible. It's a lot more comforting, and makes a lot more sense. If you don't have it already, I highly recommend you get a copy of the book "What the Bible Really Teaches" published by Jehovahs Witnesses. Chapter 11 does a spectacular job of explaining why God permits suffering, much more eloquent than I! I hope this brings even one person some peace of mind after that terrible tragedy. Just keep in mind, God sees what is happening and he cares. And he WILL do something about it (Psalms 72:12-14).

    July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  4. Michael

    Im gonna tell you exactly what is going on, but I dont expect it to matter much; most of you are not going to want to hear the truth, because it puts the responsibility on YOU. We humans are on earth as a free-will experiment, descended from the higher planes of spiritual existence (the true reality) to learn lessons about duality and separation from the Creator (in this illusion we call life). God "allows" such things as Aurora to happen, because we are given the free will in this placement to explore our natures. Some souls choose a dark path, either by committing terrible acts against others, or by controlling others to commit those acts. In the end, however, we ALL return to source, sinner and saint, and reap the rewards of our thoughts and actions in the physical realm. There is no escape from our actions, as we earn exactly the place we inherit in Nirvana.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      for what it's worth, Michael, your idea seems very plausible to me.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Xdoc

      Nice explanation, too bad it's not in your Holy Book. And either way, God has made people do horrible acts, (See Exodus). For one to think "free will" is still a rule applied by God is laughable. Just an excuse to comfort religious folks when bad things happen.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  5. Fluttershy

    Maybe he was out getting a cheeseburger

    July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Pretty sure God is Jewish, so He can't have a cheeseburger.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  6. Bill

    Shame on you CNN. I think I've had enough of this belief blog crap.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • LinCA

      You are free to leave. Nobody is forcing you to stick around.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  7. Aberly

    These types of things show me that if there is a god that he/she most definately makes mistakes and enjoys watching us suffer.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  8. Rita Loyd

    If God is unable to intervene then why do we pray? I believe God answers prayer by giving us the ability to answer our own prayers and each others. If we choose to allow the sell of automatic assault rifles, if we choose to be entertained by violence and to glamorize violence, if we choose to not provide mental health screening in schools and the work place, if we choose to not fund teaching anger management in schools and the work place, if we choose to not provide health care for the mentally ill, this tragedy and others like it will be the consequence to those decisions. Its up to us.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  9. marcus rich

    God will only go where he is celebrated, not tolerated..

    July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Xdoc

      Wow, God is really celebrated in the Middle East. Lot's of death over there. Phew, good thing he's not here in the US.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  10. Pastor Damon

    Where was God? God was in the 12 dead instead of 70 dead. God was in the AR 15 jamming so the shooter couldn't kill more people. God was in the quick response of the police and capture of the shooter. We have to recognize when God's divine touch is seen when a situation doesn't turn out as bad as it could have. God exists, Satan exists, Jesus exists. And one day we will all know the truth.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Oops

      I see. So god shouldn't be blamed for anything bad, but the silver lining that comes out of any situation? Too bad a 6 year old died, but at least two or three 6 year olds didn't die, Thanks god!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Craboo

      Damon, some of us know the truth what you mean to say is, someday you will know the truth.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Xdoc

      How about 0 dead God? At least save the little 6yr old. Not omnipotent or omniscient enough for me.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  11. Adam

    If a god allows free will without intervention when the free will of one infringes upon the freedom to live of another, then a god is not, in fact, omnipotent. It is either rendering itself insignificant and impotent or does not exist.

    If there is a predetermined plan being carried out by a god and this is retribution for a godless society, then a god is not loving and magnanimous. It is vindictive and unforgiving.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  12. Ed

    Because he is a myth.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  13. Karrie

    If you think there is no God, try making a flower from scratch.

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

      Um... yeah, are you saying like plant a seed and water it? Or rearrange some molecules? Because I personally can not do the latter, but just because I can't in no way means there is a god and he can do it.......

      July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • LinCA


      May I suggest a science class for beginners at your local community college?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Get Real


      We have verified evidence of how flowers originated. No god necessary.


      July 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  14. Yakobi

    There are no gods or goddesses, demons or devils, ghosts or goblins. Religion was invented by man to control the masses.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      Are you sure that all aspects of Reality have entered your experience?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • chalmus

      you are right there are no gods only one God.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  15. Grumpster

    Why do people continue to believe in this sky fairy who somehow seems to care about us tiny little specs in a huge universe? Because they're just too ignorant, that's why. Any god ou there that allows this is just a big AAAAA- HOOOOLLLEE

    July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      Atheists flock to this blog. They turn the question of "does God exist?" into the biggest question of all. Maybe it's time for atheists to acknowledge that an awareness of something transcendent is simply a part of human nature. If denial of God's existence was satisfying, atheists would not suffer so much under the question. No need to default to "having religion crammed down my throat." I'm a catholic in the Bible belt, and no one beats me over the head with a bible.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Xdoc

      Well, crap, after so much beating over the head in the child years, you'd think you won't need it in the adult years. But at least you're right about one thing. It's human nature to want such a security blanket on the "unknown". Atheists don't need that security blanket. But it's just that we know all humans are smart and have an intelligence that can outgrow the imaginary friend that only children need. It also scares us to think that most of the leaders who make decisions in our community, city, state and federal laws have an imaginary friend. Think about it, wouldn't you be scared too?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  16. translationtutor

    Who are we to judge God's actions? God is omniscient... all knowing. Meaning he knows what will play out, exactly how it will happen, before it does. Actions that we as humans are only capable of seeing the immediate evil in without the possibility of seeing what effects will ripple out in the future because of it, and perhaps more importantly... What events could have taken place in the future had this not happened?

    Pointing fingers all you want, see how far it'll get you on the matter. However know that you sound like a child ridiculing their Fathers actions, thinking that you know everything, but in reality having only the slightest fraction of knowledge.

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

      If there is a god, he's impotent and weak and not deserving of the time of day from a dog. I fart in his general direction...except I dont' think he's there....so I fart in your general direction.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Xdoc

      So which is it? He knows it all, or he gave us free will? Can't have it both ways.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  17. Boinking

    God was hanging out at a bar with Allah.

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

      Lol, then God and Allah found out they were the same person ala "Fight Club".

      July 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  18. Joe

    God gave dominion of this world to man and the devil. To return to paradise release your hold of worldly things and live through Him.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • the voice of reason

      Hey Joe....time to get rid of your computer!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Grumpster

      Yeah...release your worldly things into the coffer of the church...that's really smart.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  19. ash

    people on this forum are wasting time blaming god or liberals for this kind of thing happening. It's completely ridiculous. I don't think we'll ever find the answer to the question of why this kind of thing happens with religion. The answer to this question lies within studying the mental health of those that commit these kinds of crimes. but no one wants to hear that.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  20. jamy

    No one ever said being a Christian would be without problems or death or pain or suffering.. They all suffered or died for Jesus.. Matthew, Mark, Luke. Paul Timothy, Stephen, John the Baptist.. so many more.. look at all the early Christians who were torn to shreds from tigers or crucified, beheaded and tortured.. the only difference.. children.. and those who are born again have the hope of everlasting life.. this life is temporary.. our temporary home.. I choose HOPE.. The HOPE that ONLY Christ gives us.. We never ever know when it is our last day here on earth.. I choose the teachings of God through the Holy Spirit for He wants all be saved.. that No one shall perish.. but we will continue to be human and hurt and be sad and die and hurt.. as all humans do... but we do have hope for life again with Him.. and for that I am grateful.. God Bless:)

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

      He "wants" us all to be saved? For someone so powerful, that idea is for the weak-minded. Sounds like a cry-baby not getting what he "wants", then taking it out on them. Think of someone hurting their children for making a mistake that children normally make.

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

      I assure you Xdoc... I am NOT weak minded.. Weak minded is the man who murdered and hurt so many in this disaster.. I am content with my Soul and strong in my faith..

      July 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Xdoc

      By the way jamy, I wasn't talking about you. The idea of He "wants" us to be saved comes from the teachings of Jesus Christ. That's who I was talking about, not you. The weak-minded comment is for him and his "Father" who "want" us to be saved so badly. Someone so powerful and knowledgeable would not need that type of satisfaction from his own creation.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • chalmus

      xdoc you seem to know a lot about what God would want and thinks to not believe in God at all.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Xdoc

      Well, the Bible does tell you a lot of what he "wants". I like to read about something before judging it.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:52 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.