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. Michael Cuddy

    It was the same place it was on 9/11 and Katrina and in Syria today. When we put faith in a fairy tale, we should not expect any answer.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  2. varun

    If you really want a clear answer - read Bhagavad Gita the Vedic/Indian classic that was spoken on a battlefield for a reason. And Krishna Himself was present on that battlefield on which thousands died. Please study and benefit - link below -


    July 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  3. librarian

    I defer this question to late Holocaust victim Sonia Weitz. Her poem: Where was man? http://www.holocaustcenterbn.org/where-was-man.html

    July 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  4. Jim

    There are no absolute answers, only questions and opinions.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  5. Tim

    Study your history, "evil" events have been happening since man could pick up a rock and hit someone in the head. Humans are aggressive waring creatures, history (and the present) is the proof. John Lennon types say "give peace a chance" and I for one am not against peace, however, it simply is not achievable in the long term fashion. Humans will continue to be aggressive until the species kills itself off. Furthermore, there is no God. Religion has caused more death and destruction than any thing on this earth... you say "no, look at the atomic bombs", I laugh and say "look at the crusades". The best chance we have is to learn that we control our own future, not some made up imaginary guy sitting on a cloud throwing lighting bolts at people. Sound depressing?... not really, you simply have to understand the rules and learn how to live, then you can find happiness.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  6. R.Smith

    That question has no right to be asked. In a society, as demonstrated by many commenters, that has essentially abandoned God, told Him to get out of your schools, government and public places, and basically turned your backs on Him, you ask, "Where was He?" Really? Are you THAT stupid? He is where all of you wanted Him to be. You can't have it both ways. He's not exactly used to being on call just when you need Him. I mean, after all, He is God. I once heard an elderly man answer the question,"Why would God allow this to happen?" He said that God's Grace was like a television signal being beamed from a satellite circling above the earth. This strong signal, God's grace, is broadcast on a continuous basis at every nook and cranny on earth. In order to receive the TV signal, you must have an appropriate antenna in good working order pointed in the correct direction. So it is with God's grace. Many people have no Grace antenna yet they want to receive His Grace. Some antennas are there, but in severe disrepair due to lack of care and maintinance. So if you have doubts about whether or not God's Grace is real or even present; check your antenna.

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

      R. Smith, it looks like you are the one without the courage to accept both obvious sides, good and bad, that must exist for your god if the god you claim exists. The stage was set for horrible natural calamities before man existed, and your god must take responsibility for that.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • R.Smith

      You obviously don't get that you are the deviant here. How does it feel to be so self-engrossed that you can't see how limited your view is. It amazes me that atheists seem to believe they have superior intellect because they don't believe in God. I continue to find that very odd. How can a superior intellect result from a limited view.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • R.Smith

      P.S. Bob,
      He is not "my God". I don't own Him nor did I create Him. By the the way, I see and accept the presence of good and evil everyday. Thanks to you and "your kind", evil is winnig.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  7. micki

    God was there. Those who took a bullet for the ones they loved and the other acts of heroism that took place that night was proof of his presence. God gives people free will so we can choose who's side we are on. good or evil. the devil does things like this so he can make believers question where god was why did he let this happen. Maybe it was god who caused the gun to jam in order to stop him from shooting and to make him return to his car where he was captured.

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

      I suggest that you do further reading on free will. I think that will destroy your odd notions about your god.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  8. ReadTheBibleAndPray

    This happens to people for many reasons and I'll name a few here. 1. They practice the wrong religion. 2. They do not pray enough to the right God. 3. They do not pray correctly. 4. Their parents raised them into the wrong church. 5. They do not attend worship services often enough. 5. The number one reason is that they do not pray enough asking God to save their personal life.
    You sinners whine and complain when bad things happen to you. You whine when you get cancer, die of old age, get struck by lightning, get caught in a meat grinder, uterine prolapse, flesh eating bacteria, etc, etc. People like me "Ain't go no problems in my life". We pray 24 hours a day 7 days a week, every week and walk in the light of our lord. We have a "hedge of protection" because we worship in our religion the correct way. Ain't got no problems in my life.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @ReadTheBibleAndPray –

      Arrogant. Narcissistic. Delusional. Is this satire?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  9. Drod

    What bothers me is that when things are going good people go about their lives doing whatever it is they do. And for some people God does not exist, but when bad things like 911, tornadoes, earthquakes happen they blame God our creator. If we all pull together and stop going against Gods will the world would be a better place, but the truth is that people are not going to change and things will keep getting worse. God bless America in the name of Jesus, and I know for a fact that God exist.

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

      Really? For a fact? Then let's have it for all these non-believers. Please share.

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

      Yep, Drod, please present your proof. So far, no one has been able to present any valid proof of Christian god, so good luck with that one.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  10. blinky

    Around half of the pro-God responses thoughtfully talk about the place of free will, how we could have it to begin with, and why a God who is merciful wouldn't intervene in our affairs. Whether you agree with them or not, at least they are seeing a subtle point about "letting us make our own mistakes" and why that allows us to rise higher than we would by a God that prevents bad things from happening.

    Around 100 per cent of the anti-God responses, on the other hand, are snarky one- and two-liners that oversimplify and willfully misunderstand everything the above group is saying.

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

      I'd say that claim of 100% is false. There are regular non-believer posters here such as Doc Vestibule and numerous others who are very polite and reasonable.

      However, I think that you should consider carefully why it is that non-believers get frustrated and sometimes angry with you. We do have to put up with your arbitrary morals with no valid proof offered so far that your particular god exists (alongside the thousands of others that man has made for himself throughout history). Also, considering that your holy book, as we read it, if it's the Christian one, has so many demands by your god in it for you to do awful, violent things, I don't see why you should be surprised that we vehemently reject your violent, bigoted doctrine.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Oops

      I think you're reading the longer "anti-god" responses then, or maybe just skipping the "pro-god" ones. In any case, keep in mind that "making our own mistakes" in the case of religion and christianity specifically means nothing in the afterlife. This is an honest and not snarky question, please tell me how learning that guns are bad will do anything for me in the afterlife at all? The whole child/father analogy doesn't make sense when you think about it. When parents try and guide their children by letting them make their own mistakes, it's so that they can learn to become a better member of society and live a happy life (or sometimes its so they won't burn themselves again, etc...) the point is, all these life lessons that parents allow children to learn specifically relate to the next X amount of years. In the case of god/man, life lessons amount to nothing in the afterlife, we'll never become as good or god so whats the point of god allowing us to make our own mistakes when in the grand scheme of things they mean nothing?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |


    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  12. Dawana

    When life is Good, we leave God out, i'm a perfect example, soon as trouble or im in need I call on him and cry. God wants us through good, bad indifferent, not just when evil from evil people come into part, its too late then and we mad. Thats not loving and trusting God, thats using God. I'm guilty, how about you? God is Good all the time

    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  13. Dios

    CNN, you asked where was God during the Aurora massacre. I think you may have aimed a bit short here. If I may, I believe you meant to ask:

    "Where was Vishnu, Devi, Ganga, Shatala, Nirriti, Uso-dori, Tajika-no-mikoto, Yama-no-Karni, Abassi, Mulungu, Loko, Hbiesso, Tano, Nyasaye, Nzame, Wuragag, Itaba, Tsilah, Allah, Cliodna, Fergus, The Horned One, The Green Man, Borvo, Set, Ra, Mehen, Horus, Aten, Anuket, Sakhmet, Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, Athena, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Crow, Ghanan, Kan, Ixchel, Odin, Thor, Hodur, Freyja, Aegir, Paka'a, Tu, Ne Te-reere, Lono, Wanagi, etc?"

    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  14. 10

    Why are there people on here explaining things like they know anything? No one knows what happens after death stop typing crazy responses about why we're here.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  15. john

    we live in the devils domaine and he can strike without gods knowing but after it started ill tell you where he was... god was in the ar-15 a perfect military weapon that can survive a dessert and continue to fire for our boys in the dessert but JAMMED in a movie theater with a 100 plus clip on it..... god was protectingth 40 plus injured and not killed... he was with a woman with a brain defect to show everything has a reason... and most importantly god was at the gates of heaven welcomeing 12 people to eternal life... god was in that move theater that night and so was the devil... god is good and even for those who do not belive its never too late and hopefully one day he will welcome you to eternal life... GOD BLESS the victims and all of us...

    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  16. Papa

    God was in the theater next door watching "Magic Mike"

    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  17. Mary

    If you and I and someone else were standing at different points around a lake and each of us threw garbage into the lake – at some point the ripple effects of those actions would meet up and be exponentially manifested. I believe it is the same with each and every one of our actions. Whether we put garbage or love out into the world, we are creating ripples that, when they coincide with other ripples – manifest exponentially into the things like the actions of the Aurora shooter or the actions of Mother Teresa. In this country, we have become more mean spirited (look at Washington DC, look at reality TV), greedy, and selfish.

    We are created in the image of God therefore God is everywhere – as we are everywhere. God gave us free will so that we could create – as he created us.

    When we want answers to incidents like the shooting in Aurora, we need look no further than the man in the mirror.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  18. Edwin

    It is not that God allows these things to happen, he is not pleased with them either, it is that the choices men take, like this guy who did this atrocity have consequences and this is one of them. It is the sin that lives in each one of us that lead us to make this bad choices and acts. I agree with the fact that more and more this country has banned God and talking about God from the schools, government, currency, etc. How can we expect anything different? Everybody is focused on this crazy young man, but nobody is talking about the children allowed at midnight or with their parents to watch this violent movie. I watched it and would not let my 4 year old watch it, no wonder there is all this violence around us. Nobody is talking about gun control either, how can someone buy 6000 rounds of ammunition and nobody notice it or do anything about it? It is time to see what is the real problem.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  19. Josh


    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  20. R Wilson

    We are told that it 'rains on the just and the unjust.' That the sun shines on the 'just and the unjust.' So nobody gets a pass. God never promised we would not suffer, He just promised He would be there with us (at least, those of us who believe in Him) when we did suffer. We are also told in the Bible that Satan (pure evil) is the God of this Earth. Oh, and by the way...when this former Christian Nation (per FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Supreme Court 1892 case) tries to shed it's Godly foundation and makes God pretty much illegal in all aspects of public life, then how can this formerly Christian Nation expect any protection from the God it rejects? You are not a believer? You will soon be because much much worse is about to befall this nation and the world. Not too late, all you Pagan's....but it is nearing the point where it will be too late for you.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'R Wilson' is a form of the flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager.


      July 25, 2012 at 2:39 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.