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. Reganon

    WHERE WAS BATMAN! At least there is a real Batman in the universe. Sadly he is currently a cowardly brit who makes millions of dollars a year and is not about to risk that going to a public massacre. As for this god character he is just make believe nonsense stupid people need to get through their sad days.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Dexter

      It would appear that you have no understanding of things from a spritual standpoint. The vastness of the universe and its complexity which you have very little knowledge of and the wonderous biological and ecological design of our planet earth which again you have very little knowledge of in itself should compell you to at least sit down in an intelligent open minded peaceful environement and discuss your thoughts and feeeling verses an opinion which has no value. We are all in the same situation as to understanding this wonderous marvel the earth and the universe but at least some of us put opinions aside and seek accurate truth, wisdom, knowledge. Thank You Kindly

      July 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  2. DXEphilly11

    you know when they bring up topics like this the interest in the article is totally dying out and they need to spin off completely asinine topics in order to keep interest. Poor reporting cnn.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  3. Rod

    The question is not where was God, but rather what God asked Adam when he and Eve "sinned" in the garden. God was where He was supposed to be, but man(humans) got out of God's will when they rebelled against God in eating of the forbidden fruit and were tempted by Satan. In this rebellion they spiritually gave their rulership of the earth over to Satan and his spirit of rebellion, hatred and evil. This is why he is called the god of this world, and the prince of the power of the air. Man is now under the rulership of Satan's influence unless one surrenders their life to Christ Jesus. Evil will still have power and grow worse until Jesus comes at the end of this age(Satan's rule), and destroys this system and man's world system. Again, these evil acts are the result and byproduct of man's sins and his rebellion against God's love and His commands. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. First Jesus came to redeem man if they will choose Him. Secondly He will redeem the earth back to Himself under His rule in that day

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Norm

      Rome ruled the world as a polytheistic culture, when the switched to monotheism it crumbled soon after.
      Case and point.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  4. Riley Hopkins

    The whole Bible from beginning to end shows a great battle between light and darkness, good and evil. The Aurora massacre had nothing to do with light and everything to do with darkness.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Dexter

      Fine point you have made, its Satan the Devil and his evil wicked spirit that is working on those in the last days. Remember the scriptures are clear where it quotes: 1 Pet 5:8 Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. Eph 6: 14-18 instructs us on how we can protect ourselves by putting on our suit of spirtual armor in a figurative sense. Thank You Kindly

      July 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  5. ironicpd

    I find it ironic the way people keep saying that bad things happen because we teach evolution (Rick Warren), or because gods been taken off the money (he's still on there), etc. I this was the case, then by was it that bad things happened before – when we denied the truth of science and evolution? Its illogical, but very christian. I find it ironic as well, how most Christians outright try to deny the hate of the bible and try to make thus god into a loving being. That's not what the Bible teaches. There is no god and that's why he's not there.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Cora Grace

      Ironic just a suggestion: go to blueletterbible.com and read the whole book. And when you read it, don't day dream. You will be amazed.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • The King Is Coming

      It's obvious you've never read the Bible, genius. So stop pretending you know what it says.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  6. ed nelson

    god is everywhere,the problem is some people dont know where to look for him.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  7. Jim Jones

    What does God need with a starship?????

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  8. Johnny

    He sees you when your sleeping, he knows when your awake... He knows if you've been bad or good... So be good for goodness sake!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  9. dave

    God is of no use if he allows these sort of things to happen.

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

    You do not believe in God, so what exactly are you talking about?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Really?

      I do not believe. It doesn't mean I can't point out the fallacy in YOUR belief.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  11. Cora Grace

    I believe that the fall is the reason for this event. The fall is an amazingly complex event and it affected everyone and still does. As I see it, those who "took the first bite of the apple" were at the base of the tree of life at its roots. Where the roots of the tree go, so goes the rest of the tree. The fall is not a legend, I believe but a highly technical, complex event that took place outside of time.

    Lastly, the apparent perp looks to have a serious case of schizophrenia. His eyes kept melting to the floor. He looked dazed and confused. But mental illness too, is a result of the fall.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  12. Diana

    God gave us the right to choose, he does not control us. We make the wrong choices and that is why bad things happen to good people. But America is allowing athiest to push God out, so why would anyone expect him to protect, especially if your not a beliver and your a hater. Even with that said we are Gods creation who he set free.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  13. First

    The Righteous LORD of Loving Spirits were with those whom he chose in Aurora, whom in turn chose The Righteous Lord of Loving Spirits with a Burning Heart for The Loving Spirits. Victims & Surivivors. 1 Life, 1 Love, 1 King, Love is Love Always.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Cora Grace

      First you completely are right. Love should be the focus of our hearts now, not doubting God. Those who don't believe fine, but the rest of us should not be shaken.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "The Righteous LORD of Loving Spirits were with those whom he chose in Aurora, whom in turn chose The Righteous Lord of Loving Spirits with a Burning Heart for The Loving Spirits. Victims & Surivivors. 1 Life, 1 Love, 1 King, Love is Love Always."

      Pretty clearly you have been possessed by some sort of demonic spirits. Probably Tequila Sunrise or Jagermeister.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  14. Milton

    All of the people who did not get shot and people who were "only" wounded probably think their god was there. Others might say that the people who died were punished by their god, it was God's will, etc., to justify the deaths.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  15. Tom Martin

    God is only truly loving because he has given his creation free will to choose light or choose darkness, love or pain. Love and pain are forever 2 ends of a circle that dissolve into each other. When we choose to add love, the pain of the world dissolves. When we choose to add pain, the pain of the world increases as is clearly the case here. The good news is the outpouring of love for the victims and, yes, the perpetrator will ultimately prevail. Good is it's own reward and evil is it's own punishment.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "The good news is the outpouring of love for the victims and, yes, the perpetrator will ultimately prevail. "
      Prevail how? Do you think he will escape and kill the rest of us somehow?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  16. Norm

    It's always the devil did it, ot it was Gods will. mankind needs to get away from this notion this brainwashing cancer we call
    religion, period. The facts are more people have been killed in the name of God than have ever been saved. We all wonder and think the World has gotten so bad only recently, when in fact overall humanity today is more peaceful than it has ever been under the concept of God's so called teaching. The problem is people have no faith in themselves, so they turn to God with hope realize he is not answering and then lose all hope, because the brainwashing suggest everything should be ok, be cause God will look after us all. Fact religion is a sickness, a scab on humanity, than historically drives mankind to kill mankind.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  17. Dave Hogan

    God was in the same place he was when His son was dying on the cross.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Bible Clown©


      July 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Dexter

      In all due respect God was in heaven looking down at his son who died by the way on a stake, orginal greek term STAUROS
      The orginal historical writings show clearly that Christ did not die on a cross, Christ is not the creator God as many think. If you want irrefutable evidence please respond I will gladly respond. Thank You Kindly

      July 25, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Norm

      In all due respect Dexter, there is NO as in 0 solid proof Jesus ever existed, his story only appears in history 400 years after his supposed death, and no mention of him prior, at all! Artifacts such as the shroud, ossuary, the true cross, even the supposed place he died on the cross all proven to be fakes, carbon-dated to be very recent objects. The story of Jesus's birth is the old pegan ritual story that was always told to mark the procession of the equinox, only the names have changed. Yet we can find archaeological evidence of much older venerated humans easily, and have many of them in museums, dated and proven real, but nothing of Jesus or Mary or any of his family or children, nothing. Even the Muslims have the bodies of the children of Mohammad, and even the actual Body of Mohammad. Yet nothing exists not a trace of Christ, other than a storytale.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  18. Loreita Little

    Where is God? We can sum it up in
    2nd Chronicles 7:14 .... "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
    Do we want God?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Do we want God?" Are you trying to say that if we'd all prayed just a little louder, God would have been so happy that He would have come rushing down here and prevented those murders? It's not like people aren't praying already, or like it would require any effort for an omnipotent being to stop one man. He's either dead, gone, doesn't care, or never existed.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  19. Rear Admiral Eugene Levingston III

    Pascal's Wager

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

    From the book called The Shack; by Paul Young.
    In this book a man who has suffered an unspeakable tragedy has a conversation directly with God, and I believe this to be the best answer I've ever heard regarding the issue of "Why does God allow tragedies?"

    “(God speaking.....) Nobody knows what horrors I have saved the world from 'cuz people can't see what never happened. All evil flows from independence, and independence is your choice. If I were to simply revoke all the choices of independence, the world as you know it would cease to exist and love would have no meaning. This world is not a playground where I keep all my children free from evil. Evil is the chaos of this age that you brought to me, but it will not have the final say. Now it touches everyone that I love, those who follow me and those who don't. If I take away the consequences of people's choices, I destroy the possibilities of love. Love that is forced is no love at all.”
    ― W. Paul Young

    “(God speaking)...just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn't mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don't ever assume that my using something means that I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn't depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”
    ― W. Paul Young, The Shack

    July 25, 2012 at 2:14 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.