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. O Khan

    For all of you who don’t believe there is God: can you stop a day from ending or night from starting? Can you create life? Can you stop death (can anyone say I will never die)?

    If not then who is making all this happen, who is telling the sun to rise, how is it that life is so weak & do you know will you be alive tomorrow?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • it's called science

      @O Khan. If someone has the money, we can make a giant reflector in space to give light 24/7. We can create life in a petri dish and clone life. We can also stop death with vaccines and our always developing medical technology (nobody can ever say they'll never die because if there is a God, he won't let anyone live forever)

      July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      what makes you jump to the conclusion that there is a who?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  2. Jimiamn

    I believe: God gives us all the freedom to create whatever we want in life. God does not intervene, and we have free will to make choices both good and bad. It's up to us. We can ask God for whatever we want, and he will listen and in one way or another give us what we ask for. Our thoughts create who we are and what happens in our life, so be careful what you concentrate on.
    It's up to us to create a world where horrific acts like the Aurora theatre massacre are not made newsworthy and allow anyone to feel there will be any kind of attention or glory for them in doing such.

    What kind of a world have we created that brings people to this point. It says a lot about our society and the atmosphere we live in today.

    Let's love one another and seek the goodness in each other as we experience life on earth. If we all look for the highest good in everything we do every chance we get, there will be no one who is an outcast from society. There will be no one seeking to be important and more special than someone else. We will be all pulling for each other and making life as good and fulfilling as possible for everyone. Blessings to each of you. May you be healthy and happy and project that energy on to everyone around you.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  3. T

    We are so disobedient, unworthy, and sometimes even curse God. Why should God intervene? We claim freedom, but often with other's expense. We should take this as an wake up call that we should be closer to God. Those who are closer to God will understand His will. Those who are far from God will never understand that we've been disobedient stiffed-neck people. But thank God, once we realize and repent (and put into action), you will understand His love and have the hope for the future. Those who still claims no God, you have no hope either.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  4. DJ

    God does not will that people suffer and die. He allows evil to exist, because he gives us all free will. Free will to go to the movie theatre, and free will to kill other innocent lives. It is the good acts that were done that shows us God was present. When the people that acted bravely to save their loved ones from the bullits, the resuce pesonnel, police, Hospital staff, doctors, and family and friends that comforted the dying and wounded, saving lives. The community coming together, concerned americans and people of the world that offered aid, comfort, their help and prayers from the Bishop of Denver, and even the Pope in Rome. It is than that we realisze that God is there. Sometimes he intervenes, but sometimes he does not, but everything happens for a reason, and truely he is there, and loves us all.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Jimiamn


      July 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  5. justcause

    Humans are free to choose and act as they wish, it is called free will, but free will comes with a responsibility called accountability, therefore people in this case this person choose to buy weapons, plan and kill and he shall be accountable in front of God and will receive his punishment.

    This is the stupidest question I have ever heard!! CNN is really downgrading the news by posts like this.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  6. lol

    He was there with an AR 15, gas mask, and a shotgun saying "go ahead and make my day!"

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  7. James J

    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

    ― Marcus Aurelius

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Here a Little, There a Little

      Or, as stated in another way by another great teacher, "Faith without works is dead, being alone...wherefore, shew me thy faith without thy works and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

      Any individual who attempts to equate "faith" with mere superficial "belief" and paying mere lip service to God on Sunday is deluding himself and is living a lie. True faith always both requires and inspires positive change and action. It both requires and inspires accountability and responsibility. It both requires and inspires men to take on the charateristics of infinately noble and enternally loving, compassionate and caring deity.

      O Man, will you remember that faith without works is dead?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  8. Suleiman23

    Life of human beings is in the hands of God. He OWNS this universe. Everything that we think belongs to us, actually is the property of God. From living to non-living matter and from things we know of and things that are unimaginable is all under the ownership of God. This universe and everything beyond is HIS kingdom. This point being made, we need to understand a simple fact that just because God knows something will occur does not mean HE is responsible for it.

    Human beings are responsible for their own actions. And there is something called justice. We won't someone magically come down and save peoples lives. No, it doesnt happen like that. Specially with disbelieving pagan idol-worshipping kuffar (non-Muslims). What is suffering and grief? God gave you a child, his time came and HE took his life back. If his life was taken unjustly in a movie theater, the criminal who did this will pay for it in the hereafter and the innocent person will be returned with blessings. THIS IS WHY THERE IS LIFE AFTER DEATH. Atheists need to come out of their little narrow-minded ignorant views...No! we did not somehow transform from lifeless gaseous matter into complex living cells! and no my forefathers were not monkeys.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • KaltuYuri

      Not all kuffar are pagans FYI.
      Christians might be somewhat pagans because they do worship the creation of God. Jews on the other hand I know do believe in One God. What do you think?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  9. Moe Hammid

    If this is the Jesuz that gave us Hitler and Stalin and Obama and pedophile priests, then you can keep him. Jesuz is responsible for more wars then Dickless Cheney!

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

    Lenny and Jesse R have it right. God gave man free will in the Garden of Eden. He could have prevented them from eating of the fruit that was forbidden but true love allows free will. We live in a fallen world where people hurt people every day. God allows us to live how we chose, but he doesn't prevent the consequences that come from it. Why did those specific people die in Aurora? Why did some escape death? I do not know, but God does promise to make all things turn out for our good if we trust Him. That means we win no matter what. No matter how hard, painful or unexplainable, He comes out on top and makes sure we do too. That should give us hope in a world where evil is thriving and hungry for attention.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Moe Hammid

      can i have some of what your smoking. btw santa and the easter bunny are gay!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Jimiamn

      I agree, and believe that we are here many lifetimes, so the tragedy of death is just our physical body and not our spirit. What we are here for is to experience who we really are, and so we are allowed to have many experiences both good and bad to help us realize what is really important. Chock the Aurora massacre up to what we don't want, and look at what good can come of it. Our society needs something shocking to get us to make changes in the what we value. Let's hope it doesn't take much more before we realize we are living in a society that is putting value on the wrong things.
      What we need to realize is loving one another, and pulling for and supporting one another is what we need and want.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  11. varun

    Shame CNN! This is not news. Take if off your main page.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  12. Kathleen Allan

    God was where He always is! He did not cause the shooting. Sin which entered the world with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Sin is the cause of all evil, hatred etc. Man has chosen to say "There is no God!| There is no "intelligent designer" of this universe. They have left God out of their lives, their thinking, and SIN has caused all the evil in this world. God does not want people to be killed by a man who for whatever reasons wants to kill as many people as he can. God loves mankind so much He sent His Son the Lord Jesus Christ down to earth to eventually be crucified my man. Then God put our sin on Christ and he suffered and paid the penalty for OUR SIN on Calvary. Jesus Christ is the only sinless man who has ever lived. It doesn't matter if you say there is no God, if you want to get rid of every mention of Him. He is the Almighty creator of the Universe, the Alpha and Omega the beginning and the end. Soon His son, the Lord Jesus Christ will be returning to take back to heaven all who believed in His Son, who believed that when He died and came back from the grave, that if we believe that we are saved from eternal damnation in Hell..if we don't belivethis we will be separted from God and His Son for ever and ever. Thrown into Hell with the devil and his angels in blackness of darkness for ever and ever. How God loves you, read John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall NOT Perish, but will have EVERLASTING LiFE. This is true, no matter what anyone says!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  13. chiniquy

    Nothing happens in this life without G-D allowing it to happen. We have to tried to understand why G-D allows horrific incidents like these to happen. HE is trying to tell us something, but obviously we haven't learn what we need to in order to prevent people from committing these senseless acts. What is lacking in our society that would make a young man like this do something so horrible.

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

    The fact that people still believe in god in this age of reason is horrible enough, but to blame the massacre on bibles not being in schools or gay people is far, far worse, and incredibly stupid.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  15. Sam H.

    War. Famine. Terrorism. Disease. Injustice. Torture. Colonialism. Slavery. Capitalism. Ponzi schemes. Drought. Floods. Fires. Human trafficking. Paedophilia. And if we can survive all of that, we are supposed to go to a communal building and praise God?? What God? How can we believe in the existence of God when so many things in the world and life, both natural and unnatural, seem to point to the fact that we are out here playing survival of the fittest or most cunning/evil. I think God should be praising us for surviving this mortal gauntlet he lays before us every single day. And if he does exist, I truly believe he's too busy building this gauntlet to really give a s**t about any of us.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  16. Joel

    God is a myth; if Man dies God dies – if man has free will why does he ask anything of a God? A God is a necessary ingredient for any religion to exist and it would appear that man is not strong enough to exist without religion or a God.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  17. barbarianofgor

    Deuteronomy 30:19
    I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

    The wonderful and terrible thing about having free will is that we can choose. But this also creates the possibility that people can do evil, including deliberate evil to good people. And don't blame the Devil for it either. He actually fell because in part he was disgusted with mankind who quickly became just as wicked after the flood as before it. But God did not give up on us.

    This sad, deluded fool did great evil. But the greater evil would be accepting the controller's "Shock Doctrine" their "Problem, reaction, solution" garbage and screaming for less freedom. Frankly, like Columbine, them playing with guns SAVED lives. If the Columbine kids had not had guns they'd have just worked harder at also sabotaging the school's propane tank, likewise this freak had tons of explosives but clearly didn't work as hard on his backup plan. Even that "Drum" thing. Most automatic weapons they give to soldiers are actually designed to jam on continuous use so soldiers don't just blow their ammo the first shot an enemy scout shoots.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  18. 3threes

    A soul is both the spirit and the body, the body will die, the spirit never dies. The body and spirit will be reunited and eternal, and that is Heavenly Fathers greatest gift. This life is but a small time away from our true home. The evil that is upon us does not matter, all that matters is how we let it effect us. That is the point of this life, a test. Some are tested more, some less, but all taste physical death. Have faith.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  19. Christian

    The answer to the question of why is that God created man subject to the laws of nature. The laws of nature are the causes of tornados, hurricanes, bad weather, evil people etc. etc.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  20. pmn

    Togetherness in believing in God gives us more strength to conquer evil.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214
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.