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. Mike Fiebert

    There is no god. There's just screwed up people in the world, and not-so screwed up people.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  2. Casey

    Nice to see CNN turning a tragedy into a theological debate. This is such an ignorant question to ask.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  3. Jennifer

    God created a natural world and in that natural world disasters happen, disease happens, pain happens. God also created man to have free will and some will decide to do good with that and some will do evil, just as some will believe God exists and some will believe he does not! I am not going to sit back and live my life feeling like I am at the hands of a Creator that wills bad things to happen to me. I believe He wants the best for me, but I also live in a natural world full of people who have free will and sometimes that means ugly things happen. Right now I see a lot of people turning to God for answers and there are a lot who will do that in quiet and with reflection in their homes and a lot who will do it in public. In America we still have freedom of religion and the freedom to exercise our beliefs. I can go in my front yard and get on my knees and say a prayer and do not fear that I will be arrested. A man can put up crosses for the victims and he is not arrested. I can say a prayer with my children before every meal and not fear the government will stop us.

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

    There is no god. Surely anyone with a rationale brain can acknowledge that. Can we all grow up and leave these posits of elementary thoughts in the school yard?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  5. pastor john

    imagine where God was when Jesus Christ was being crucified. God is a being who allows things to take their cause but can intervene if called upon. continued rejection of Gods will makes it difficult for God to intervene in our lives

    July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  6. martyy

    I know where He was, and for 100,000 dollars I'll tell you.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  7. Well isn't this predictable

    If God does not exist, as many have suggested, what right do we have to blame him for not being there? To unpack that point a bit more; if God does not exist, each man or woman is under no 'moral code' and behaves as he or she sees fit. What right would one individual have to impose his personal ethics on another of equal standing? This debate has raged for a long time in the differences in what is ok in one culture vs taboo in another...this is no different.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  8. BringGodBack

    One of the posts in this blog said it best and it's worth repeating: "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?"

    Bring God back into our lives and community. Ask God to bless this country and give community leaders wisdom to do his word. We are a nation living in sin and fornication. Examples are all around us.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • J.Crobuzon

      ' How can we expect God to give us his blessing and his protection if we demand that he leave us alone?"'

      Yes, I'm sure that little child had committed some sort of transgression against the Bible, like wearing mixed threads or eating shrimp, which required God to stand by and let her die. Same as He does EVERY OTHER dying child. When does God ever protect anyone, really?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  9. Greg Doublas

    Though God is Omnipresent meaning He is everywhere simultaneously, He does not interfere with the will of men. He gave us the freedom to choose. The accused made a choice to do what he did. The Lord had nothing to do with it. However, if you were a man or woman of prayer and have prayed that day asking Him to protect you, your spouse or children, then somehow God would have made the impossible possible for your family to be safe. Scripture says "for with God nothing shall be impossible" (Matt. 19:26).

    July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  10. bigbill8517

    If you're really interested, read C.S. Lewis book The Problem of Pain.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  11. spoo

    bad question ..... bad journalism. so much blood has been shed in the name of god and religion that framing this tragedy in the realm of religion is just not very smart

    July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  12. Motty

    God is in complete control allowing bad things to continue to happen in a world populated by humans who have rejected him. At the same time he's offering free access to the kingdom in which he will remove everything that causes suffering. In short, tragedy is a clear message to come back to God while you can.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  13. Andrew Landen

    God's will is stronger in some states than in others. In Texas, for instances, God's will would have quickly ended the tragedy by sending several rounds back at the shooter.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  14. Albert

    I think it’s ridiculous that this is even a question. Instead of asking where God was, ask where Batman was. At the end of the day we need to learn how to show sympathy. Not through God but through Humanity. Does it truly matter where God was or where anyone was for that matter? I have my own issues with religion and God so I am not on any side. All I’m stating is that it shouldn’t matter, God or no God. What matters is people died a tragic death and sympathy and grieving doesn't require God. I love how simple people are that out of death rises a debate on God. When we should be debating how to prevent things like this from happening.

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

      CNN cares, that's who, and will continue to ask the questions to incite divisions in our society and push their secular agenda.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  15. Joshua Scott

    Let me just remind everyone God was the cause of mass genocide on multiple occasions, but it's ok if God does it right?......and this is not a "punishment I mean come on really?" I'm pretty sure the Jews were strong In there faith during the holocaust.......this is just the cause of a crazy man

    July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  16. dood

    God don't kill people. People kill people. People do this for the same reson that Adam and Eve ate the apple. Thats why God sent Jesus to redeem us for our sins, so that when we die, we can go to heaven.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Vic of New York

      Actually, God sent ME here to redeem you of your sins. I'm just having a tough time cause you guys are incorrigible!

      Think, "Vic: the not Jesus, Jesus". Now that I think of it, that was my cousin's name! Hmmm....

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  17. Jessica

    God is all knowing, all powerful, all good. Obviously there is a problem with this. If he is all knowing then he would have known this was going to happen and he would have had the power to stop it, but we know the outcome of that. If God is indeed the creator then he in fact created evil as well, which would say that he cannot be all good since that which is all good cannot create evil.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  18. Vic of New York

    The problem with "God" is man. See, we expect some old man with a beard sitting out there looking over us. I that were true, then who's looking after him? The real problem is we are afraid to take responsibility for ourselves and own up to the fact that WE are God! How can you possibly conceive that something we refer to as "all encompassing" doesn't encompass ALL. It's like the blood cells in your body trying to reason "who's god?" Get rid of the blood cells and then what? They may not know the bigger answer, but they are all part of YOU. AND you are part of this creation – own up. Then perhaps more sanity will come over our world.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  19. Dave

    "Where was God?" Only a non-believer would ask that.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      ""Where was God?" Only a non-believer would ask that." Because real Christians know He was in bed by 10pm Eastern time, like always?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  20. Blademan

    "God doesn't kill people, people kill people." Wake up and take responsibility for your life and those around you and stop looking to some bogus supernatural force to explain, condemn or condon your actions. God did not create Man – Man created God.

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

      guns dont kill people, people kill people

      July 25, 2012 at 2:10 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.