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. Shelby

    Of the 30 major religions of the world, at least 29 of them are wrong. I strongly suspect that all 30 are wrong. Nobody knows if there is a God or not. Don't let another human tell you what his or her characteristics might be. Religion is designed to control people. Many people remain religious out of loyalty to parents or peer pressure or the promise of immortality even when common sense dictates skepticism. You don't need religion to be a good person. Live your life as a good person. Resist the cults.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • William Demuth

      3000 Gods have been disproved, discredited and disposed of in recorded history.

      We got about half a dozen left we need to eliminate before we can finally grow up.

      I put our odds at fifty fifity 🙁

      July 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Tom


      July 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Dear Shelby, the religion is set of criterion to live your life which have been taught by every single prophet or messangers before us like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, David, Soloman, Jesus and Mohammad... I do follow a religion to submit myself to my Creator because only He deserves it and not any other creation.... as my entire body functions in His wills/mercy otherwise how many are there now lying down in the hospital where you, I and others are sitting here in front of the comp and writting...
      Now how do i figure out which one is THE Truth out these thousands.... thats where we need to be patient and use our gift which is intelectuals and then read all the books that currently we have and see which make sense to your head and what is the message in that... than you decided and do not listen to anyone unless you convince and trust that person.... before that you ask your creator to show the way and keep studying and of couse to use your intelectuals....

      July 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  2. hangingkayaker

    Where was God? Simple. There is no such thing as god. Just a fictional character in a book of fiction written a long time ago!!

    July 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Jayson

      Only a fool mocks the beliefs of another without any proof to back up their own beliefs

      July 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Bob

      Jayson – only a m0r0n believes in the unprovable

      July 24, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  3. Jayson

    The Pastor cited above is a moron as he is basically denying that free will doesn't exist which is in complete contradiction to any Christian faith....

    July 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  4. Tom

    Oh shut up already with quoting scripture. Sheep the lot of you. http://www.project-reason.org/gallery3/image/105/

    July 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  5. Ryan

    Believing in God requires faith. I think faith is a cop-out. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that is cant be taken on its own merrits.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  6. lunchbreaker

    Isn't God omnipresent?

    July 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I thought Jeebus was omnipotent, but Mary Magdeline says thats a misprint and he really is impotent

      July 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      He seems to have a lot of children running around.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  7. SMURF

    This makes me sick that CNN would even post a stupid question.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • LinCA

      Welcome to the Belief Blog

      July 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  8. StLou

    I don't presume to be smart enough to even try to follow the train of thought of an all powerful, all knowing being. If the presumption is made that God knows all, then only God knows what outcome this will have in 10, 20, 30, 100, or one thousand years from now. This event will have a profound impact on many, many lives. I know enough not to spend my days pondering on that question, because I will never know the answer.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  9. lamard

    I GOT IT...... IT'S THE MUSIC....................IT'S THE CULTURE.YOU SEE GROWING UP THE WAY HE DID.............

    July 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  10. BOb the Prairie Dog

    NO ONE knows what happens when we die and ANYONE claiming such knowledge is a liar who probably wants you money.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  11. Steve Black

    There is a God.
    There isn't a God.
    There is a God.
    There isn't a God.
    There is a God.
    There isn't a God.
    You're an idiot!
    No, You're an idiot.
    Sounds to me like children arguing on a playground.
    Whether we believe in God, or whether we do not, it behooves us to acknowledge that there are some very intelligent people on the other side of this issue.
    Assume intelligence of the other, and it is amazing how much much intelligent we become ourselves.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • mike

      you're an idiot

      July 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Steve Black

      Nice one, Mike!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  12. esailor

    I believe that God gave man free will. Unfortunately mankind has done great things, and has done awful things to one another. It is my belief that if I am good to my fellow man then regardless of how or when I die I will join him and my loved ones in heaven. This senseless tragedy was caused by someone who turned his back on God and took the lives of innocent people and harmed others. Unfortunately the guns were man made, the violence in the media is man made, and the person who committed this act did so on his own. It is a man made tragedy. If we all chose to follow the ten commandments things like this (and many of the world's problems) would not happen.

    Please pray for the victims and their families.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  13. Bible Student

    1 John 5:19 – "We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one." Satan is in control of this world right now according to the Bible. But the Bible also says that God is going to soon step in and rectify that, and every wrong and evil thing that Satan has caused.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • William Demuth


      Dude it's the 21st century, and that is just crazy talk. I bet you have orange hair!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Satan has not power over men... in fact satan is weaker than men... he just whispases to the chest of man and it is man who decides whether to listen to not... the only job of satan is to take human to hell fire with him by associating any objects with The God Almighty... when The Almighty created Adam and commanded entire creation to prostrate on Adam and everyone did except satan as he was jelous becuase he from jin nation created out of smokeless fire and Adam created from dust... and then satan was cursed and thrown out of heaven... due to loss of his being in heaven, he vowed that he will take all men to hell with him but The Almighty says you can't take those who would be follower of message and messengers comes time to time... and at the same time satan was granted life time till the end of this earth.... so he can only whispase human and do not have any control over any human unless human answers his calls... this is what we learn from The Quran... please read the quran for further details and you will be amazed... and you will for sure discover lots of new that you have never thought in ur life... doesn't necessarily with the thinking of reverting to Islam but you can just read to increase your database of knowledges....


      July 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Also wanted to elaborate little more about 'satan' from the Quranic point of view... Jinn is the name of the nation that The Almighty created out of smokeless fire - satan is the one who does wrong/evil things and misguides others - iblis is the one who disobeyed the order of The Almighty when HE ordered entire creation to prostrate on Adam, and he (iblis) is the head of satan (Shayateen in arabic)....
      The other nation that The Almighty created is Angels (in Arabic Malaekah) who are created out of light and having no free wills, they are all the time in a state of obedient and have not free will to disobey the order of The Creator of Heavens, the earth and everything between them...
      And the third creation is Human - who we all know that are created out of dust/clay and in fact we go back to where we came from after we end the course of this earthly life and then will be raised again in the day of judgement, no metter whether a person was eaten by an animal or fish or burned, everyone will be standing as a complete human in front of The Creator to be judge. Human are given the free will to chose what they want to do... if there is no free will there will not need of any judgement, do they? also the Quran gives the 4 different ways of human creation as - 1) Adam created from dust then 2) Eve created from Adam and then 3) all human created from a clotch (in arabic it is TIN which means when the sperm and ovam gets together) and 4) the creation of Jesus the son of Marry who created from only mother and not a father....
      I hope this will help little bit to know what the Quran teaches us.... and I appreciate your time and I would really like you to read the quran to get the entire picture... I do study bible as well but bible has very limited information...
      Peace !!!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  14. Ben

    Did anyone else notice that CNN is only seeking to put the Christian God on trial?

    No one questions, where "Allah" was?

    July 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Allah was the guy who sold Bozo the ammo

      July 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  15. the_dbs

    God is obviously an underachiever!

    July 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  16. Rich

    people should spend more time in class and less in church and we would have something....

    July 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Scott

      Just saying, this guy probably spend more time in class than he did in church, and he murdered a bunch of people.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  17. Will Robison

    As a Christian, I find this question to be nonsense. God is everywhere. He is not wasting His time dealing with things that happen to be in the news just because our media fueled world reminds us of these tragedies. From God's perspective, what happened in Aurora, CO is just as tragic as what happens every single day to hundreds of thousands of His children in developing countries – children that are dying of malnutrition and disease. Or what happens every single day in the poor neighborhoods around the country in drug fueled gang violence while "civilized" people argue over whether we should allow people to legally shoot clay pigeons – and each other. Our vision is a little askew. So to ask us where God was in this tragedy is like asking the blind man what color the sky is today.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Bob

      The blind man's response would be: "the color of the sky is irrelevant because I cannot see it" – just like the response to the question, Where was god in Aurora massacre, is: "where he was is irrelevant because he does not exist."

      July 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Yup, make perfect sense.

      Jeebus was so busy making preachers rich that he didn't hear the prayers of the little girl with the bullett in her throat.

      A mistake, an oversight, but we can't expect God to be perfect, after all he is not God right?

      You don't have headaches and orange hair do you?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  18. Ed Frizzell

    God is concerned about our spiritual death – not our physical death. Physical death will happen, spiritual death need not happen. Read Ezekiel 18:21-23, 32. I believe it breaks God's heart when we die without a relationship with him. Tragedies are not new and were also addressed by Jesus in Luke 13:1-5. My take is that it doesn't matter how we die but how we live. How are you living? Ask your questions of Christ. Remember Matthew 11:28 – Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. In the King James version of the Bible, the Holy Spirit of God is referred to as the "Comforter." I'd say there are some people who could use some comfort right now. Call on Him.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Like the little girl who called on him as she bled out on her mother form the .223 round in her throat, put there by a Christian Clown turned child killer?

      Tell Jesus to kiss my ass.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Bob

      You might as well quote page and line from the newest Harry Potter book – "come all thou who art hungry and from the lamb I will feed thee and behold I will blablablablablablabla HOGWASH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  19. David Walker

    Beliefs hold people together and give those in need somethign to believe in when they need it. I do not believe there was any intervention from a deity of good or evil purposes, just life. I personally do not believe in a supreme being controlling my life...I make my own decisions and chose the path I walk. At the same time, I do not ask anyone to think as I do or change how they believe. If you believe that a god punished these people by sending Holmes to the theater that night then that is your belief and I cannot dispute you. If you feel that those that survived were allowed to live by the intervention of a divine force, then that is also your belief and faith. There are misteries that we do not understand...how someone can be cured of cancer or recover from serious injury to be better than they were prior...maybe it is a god of some sort...or maybe it is just the human spirit. Just do not hate those who do not believe as you do....religion seems to teach absolutes too often. If you do not believe the way religion says then you have to be evil....that is not the case. Belief and faith is a person issue, not a religious justification to hate someone or believe they were meant to die at the hands of a crazed person during a midnight movie. Learn tollerance for others...that is what the books you read tell you! Do not hate...love thy neighbor.

    Vote Dave 2012!!

    July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  20. Eric Gilchrist

    Why is it that most people only think about God is during a tragedy. Wehn we feel that we have things under control we won,t go to church or even bow our knees and pray and lets not talk about reading His word. I feel horrible about what happened in Colorado but for the talking heads at CNN and the rest of the "only think about God during tragedy folks" if we take the time to study God and what his will purpose and plan is we would know that these kind of things happened in the
    Bible as well. Instead of jumping to point the finger or question God's omnipotence take time and pray to Him and seek His wisdom. I don't always know what God's plan is for my own life but I trust Him no matter what happens in this world.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:55 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.