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. Donaize

    God allows for personal choice –

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

      This is illogical. On your plane of existence it would be just fine if 'god' allowed people to completely annihilate the entire planet, right? Think about that. He allowed free choice for one person to vaporize all known life. Most religions do not believe in extra-terrestrial life either – so that would mean that 'god' allowed a single person to exercise his free choice and eliminate everyone – all of his 'children'. Would this not erase his reason for being? I think yes. You need to come up with something more logical.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |

    A person who has been brainwashed cannot be reasonable on the subject they were forced to believe. Trying to help someone understand they have been brainwashed into believing in God is nearly always a lost cause. Just let them rant since “they know not what they do.”

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

      no my son no brain wash proof for i have seen god and if you looked you could too but it first takes a wanting to know why was there a big bang and how did that come to be

      July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • dt

      To the big bang philosopher.. The big bang is now known to have been the result of a dense singularity which could no longer be confined by its gravity – which was nearly infinitely strong. Time itself slows when gravity increases without bound. The problem is the singularity as being so dense had no time since time could not exist – therefore there was no 'before' the big bang. If there was no before then there was no time to think about creating it, nor any thing to do the creating. Please read the physics of this – it is hard to wrap your mind around it. By these facts any 'god' would have to be created by the big bang as well. That in my opinion is exactly what happened – the earliest life evolved and those descendants eventually came here to explore and perhaps tinker – with us – and they were called 'gods'.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  3. God is live

    Please google. Lee Strobel: why God allows suffering. It is a long but beautiful piece. He did a sermon suffering and aurora on Sunday,

    His church is also in Colorado

    "What are those points of light? Let me go through five of them that I’ve personally found helpful whenever I’ve been prompted to ask the question, “Why?” The first point of light: God is not the creator of evil and suffering.

    This answers the question you hear so often: “Why didn’t God merely create a world where tragedy and suffering didn’t exist?” The answer is: He did! Genesis 1:31 says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

    But if God is not the author of tragedy or evil or death, where did they come from? Well, God has existed from eternity past as the Father, Son and Spirit, together in a relationship of perfect love. So love is the highest value in the universe. And when God decided to create human beings, he wanted us to experience love. But to give us the ability to love, God had to give us free will to decide whether to love or not to love. Why? Because love always involves a choice.

    If we were programmed to say, “I love you,” it wouldn’t really be love." . . Real love always involves a choice.

    So much of the world’s suffering results from the sinful action or inaction of ourselves and others. For example, people look at a famine and wonder where God is, but the world produces enough food for each person to have 3,000 calories a day. It’s our own irresponsibility and self-centeredness that prevents people from getting fed.

    A lot of times you’ll hear people say: “If God has the power to eradicate evil and suffering, then why doesn’t He do it?” And the answer is that because He hasn’t done it yet doesn’t mean He won’t do it. You know, I wrote my first novel last year. What if someone read only half of it and then slammed it down and said, “Well, Lee did a terrible job with that book. There are too many loose ends with the plot. He didn’t resolve all the issues with the characters.” I’d say, “Hey – you only read half the book!”

    And the Bible says that the story of this world isn’t over yet. It says the day will come when sickness and pain will be eradicated and people will be held accountable for the evil they’ve committed. Justice will be served in a perfect way. That day will come, but not yet."

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

      Where was God? God is a spirit!! He comes through people. The day will come when we pass or (die). We will all have another job to do when we pass!!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • jaime

      where was god? in people's imagination. we're still a dumb species for the most part. we believe in fiction just to feel better about our imaginary future. get over people, there is no god, there is no afterlife. we are the same as the flies and mosquitos that we so readily squish

      July 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Minh Tran

      Well, but the bible is a book written by human claiming a relation or contact with GOD. The people who wrote the bible could or can write anyway they want. Definitely, the bible is not the words of GOD, because if GOD exists, he does not need anyone to speak for him.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Sergie

      This is a great and simple explanation.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • dt

      .... and the check is in the mail.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  4. ed ames

    Where was God? he was with Santa Claus who was busy feeding the easter bunny. God is a mythical figure, so to ask where he was is a nonsensical question. only americans would ask such a ridiculous question as this.

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

      This does not explain the simultaneous and spontaneous religious experience. Early contact with beings having a much longer developmental time frame does – and like primitive societies yet today – the contacted societies worship what they do not understand.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  5. Curiosity

    Answer these kind of questions first:
    Where did "god" come from?? If he created people in his likeness, who made him? Did he just “appear”? If he did create humans in his likeness, why did it take 4.6billion years to do so? Why start out with microbes, instead of the people and animals we have today? Did he just create the microbes, knowing that they would turn into humans, and whatever else? If so, what about the dinosaurs? Were there dinosaurs on the other planets as well? Were they just a test of what he wanted to create “in his likeness” millions of years before what we are now?
    If there are millions of other galaxies (as proved), did he only decide to create life on this insignificant spec (in contrast) & watch over it? Or is he there watching all those other galaxies/planets too? If he sent his only son to show us of our sins, did he also send him to those other planets? Or do they have their own “god” to do that? Or was it just a matter of him thinking that he was gonna make the universe, but only put life on one little spec of dust and worry about that? Or did he not create the WHOLE universe & just decided to copy our galaxy from another? Why don't we read a Dr Seuss book & deem that as gospel like people have with the bible? What is the difference?

    If you can answer any or all of these legitimately, bravo!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  6. john

    who invited u... you are forgiven for you know not what you say... you are ignorant and cannot see beyond a physical world one day you too will turn to god... go in peace you fool

    July 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Doesn't Believe in Fairy Tales

      Your use of the words ignorant and fool are very ironic

      July 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  7. amanda johnson

    God is not a puppet master. He allows all to have free will. Evil exists in the world and man allows evil to enter into his/her heart via the devil and evil angels.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • ed ames

      grow up amanda. god and the devil are archetypes. they do not exist no matter how much we might want them to.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  8. Stevo

    O.K..... God is not a "DUDE" that comes down from the sky to have bullets bounce off his chest. That is Batman. God is GOOD.

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

    God cannot contol the actions of us. God loves us because we are His children. Just as a my mother and father cannot control my actions, he cannot control our actions. We have free will. He wants us to act a certain way, to love others; but He cannot force that. The gunman had his free will to act. However, the gunman cannot choose his consequences. By choosing to act accordingly, he will not have the law of justice upon him. Both physically here on Earth and in heaven when the time comes. God loves us, but he cannot take away our free will. He cannot interfere with our actions on Earth.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  10. PMorin

    A letter from GOD

    Dear Catholics:
    God here. I don't normally post on the CNN Belief Blog, but there are a few points I want to make.
    First, I do not exist. The concept of a 13,700,00,000 year old being, capable of creating the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, monitoring simultaneously the thoughts and actions of the 7 billion human beings on this planet is ludicrous.

    Second, if I did, I would have left you a book a little more consistent, timeless and independently verifiable than the collection of Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology you call the Bible. Hell, I bet you cannot tell me one thing about any of its authors or how and why it was edited over the Centuries, yet you cite them for the most extraordinary of claims.

    Thirdly, when I sent my “son” (whatever that means, given that I am god and do not mate) to Earth, he would have visited the Chinese, Ja.panese, Europeans, Russians, sub-Saharan Africans, Australian Aboriginals, Mongolians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Indonesians and native Americans, not just a few Jews. He would also have exhibited a knowledge of something outside of the Iron Age Middle East.

    Fourthly, I would not spend my time hiding, refusing to give any tangible evidence of my existence, and then punish those who are smart enough to draw the natural conclusion that I do not exist by burning them forever. That would make no sense to me, given that I am the one who elected to withhold all evidence of my existence in the first place.

    Fifthly, in the same vein, I would not make about 5% of the human population gay, then punish them for being that way. In fact, I wouldn’t care about how humans have $ex at all, given that I created all of the millions of millions of species on the planet, all of whom are furiously reproducing all the time. Human $ex would be of no interest to me, given that I can create Universes. Has it ever occurred to you that your obsession with making rules around human $ex is an entirely human affair?

    Sixth, I would have smited all traditional Catholics, (and evangelicals and fundamentalists) long before this. You people drive me nuts. You are so small minded and yet you speak with such false authority. Many of you still believe in the talking snake nonsense from Genesis. I would kill all of you for that alone and burn you for an afternoon (burning forever is way too barbaric even for me to contemplate).

    Seventh, the whole idea of members of one species on one planet surviving their own physical deaths to “be with me” is utter, mind-numbing nonsense. Grow up. You will die. Get over it. I did. Hell, at least you had a life. I never even existed in the first place.

    Eighth, I do not read your minds, or “hear your prayers” as you euphemistically call it. There are 7 billion of you. Even if only 10% prayed once a day, that is 700,000,000 prayers. This works out at 8,000 prayers a second – every second of every day. Meanwhile I have to process the 100,000 of you who die every day between heaven and hell. Dwell on the sheer absurdity of that for a moment.

    Ninthly, had I existed, do you really think my representation on Earth would have such a history of corruption, retardation of science, financial misdeeds, political intrigue, outright criminal behavior and $exual misconduct, including pedophilia, as the Vatican does. I mean, come on! As a CEO, I would be fired for allowing my organization to run amok century after century.
    Finally, the only reason you even consider believing in me is because of where you were born. Had you been born in India, you would likely believe in the Hindu gods, if born in Tibet, you would be a Buddhist. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. What, do you think we all exist? If not, why only yours?
    Look, let’s be honest with ourselves. There is no god. Believing in me was fine when you thought the World was young, flat and simple. Now we know how enormous, old and complex the Universe is.
    Move on – get over me. I did.

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

      if he doesn't exist, how did he wrote the letter?
      I stopped reading after that. FAIL

      July 25, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Beth

      Now this is a God I would actually worship. Well written!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Art

      That's classic, well said my friend.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Marc

      @PMorin: Right on. This gave me quite a good chuckle. Too bad the knuckleheads were told to believe in God when they were impressionable children and there really isn't much point in trying to tell them otherwise now that they've grown up. But I'll pass your note along anyway.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Minh Tran

      If I exist, I will contact everyone directly. I don't need a book or a bible at all. GOD.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Sleebiscuit

      Pure genious! Loved every paragraph of it. This letter is the abstract of rational thinking. Bravo!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  11. Lost messiah

    Where was batman?... this nation needs an army of batmana

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  12. zeus_z

    Its not easy for people not having going through such tragedy say how this world is a world of suffering- of course we want to say God where were you. Unfotunately this is the suffering of life on this earth, and through faith to God, everyones suffering and tears here are wiped away and acknowledged in Gods kingdom. See what the bible says about the people that suffer, how they will be in his kingdom.

    The people that have to worry are rich, comfortable people that have no tragedy if they do not offer many sacrifices and help people- the question of "since you were so blessed on Earth in your life, what have you done for the suffering, unfortunate ones, how have you served and done good for others with your resources.

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

      Unfortunately, your posting is illogical. I have little and spend a lot of time helping others in volunteering for the support of those least fortunate. Much of my contact with religious people – most of whom do NOTHING to help others I get the same logic as I heard when I volunteered at a mental hospital – illogical vapor speak. It is OK to suffer here and you will be rewarded in an 'afterlife' which is of course impossible to prove as to its existence, and of course the great creator cannot interfere in horror here because of some grand divine version of the Star Trek non-interference directive. If you want to worship old shoes or whatever else then so be it. Try helping others driven by your own morality – that works in real time and the proof exists.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  13. Rahel

    My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in Aurora.
    Back in the Garden of Eden we picked the right to sin, and God will not stop us. He does not disciminate between the liar and the murderer, or the cheater and the hater. If he stopped sin, he would have to stop all of it.
    I'm proud to be one of those brainwashed individuals that believes that the creator has a plan and that he does care about us. I love God with all my heart.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  14. les

    This is primitive thinking, the sooner we stop believing in this fantasy, the better. How can anyone believe in such twaddle especially after an incident like this? There is nothing in the sky but clouds.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  15. Michael

    God is man made and religion is a mental disorder.

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

      To quote George Carlin, "We created him...in our own image and likeness".

      July 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Cheryl In Newnan

      Absolutely, the man quoted in the story saying the perp is evil and he is evil because he is crazy is true. Putting a fairy tale spin on the event just makes it even more senseless.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Benedict Cruz

      and since you don't believe in God and religion, means you are the sane one in this planet? better re-think your statement.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  16. max

    Ever heard of "God helps whose who help themselves" –> this is coined for the ignorant masses who refuse to believe there is no god. Fine, believe in your invisible god, but help yourself defend yourself.. Get yourself a 'magnum .44'

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  17. coachw44

    God doesn't kill people, sin does. It's the price of free will. It is as simple as that. God has a plan, but we decide to follow it or stray.

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

      So the child who was shot in this event was killed because she was sinful?!? You religious types are really scary.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  18. dave

    Nate: "Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent." According to whom? You seem to have appointed yourself God's judge, which kind of hilarious to me.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  19. Louis

    I can't believe I spent so much time reading so many of these posts and then to top it off I am going to spend additional time writing this post. First of all, understanding what went on in Aurora or Columbine or on 9/11 takes believing. And the first thing man must believe in order to gain an understanding is that The Bible is the Revealed Word and Will of God. If you don't believe that you are going to just say that I am out of my mind and that it is just a made up book of man-made stories. Well the Bible itself speaks to that. It says that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.” So I expect what I am about to say to be laughed at and mocked. Oh well, that’s your business. The Bible teaches that there are two God’s, one is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the second one is called the God of this World, better known as the Devil. Due to a lack of time and space, let’s just say that the Devil has dominion over this world now and it is he who causes all these catastrophic disasters. The true God does not possess anyone so He cannot stop the Devil’s work at this time. There are times where His mercy and grace occur in our lives but man has free will and if he chooses to allow himself to be influenced by the Devil to the point he gets possessed and shoots up a movie theatre or school or crashes planes into buildings, the true God cannot stop that. It is our job to live a good and Godly life and to learn how the Devil works so not allow him to influence us as much as possible. And that IS available to learn. But there is a day coming in the future when Jesus Christ will return to gather up the believers and at that time the Devil will be defeated and no longer have dominion on earth and those who are alive at that time will be gathered, along with those believers who died before Jesus Christ comes back and we will live for eternity with the Almighty God. I for one look forward to that day! I realize that this is the “Reader’s Digest Condensed Version” of mankind’s “Hope” but it will have to do. (Okay, now you can take all the shots you want at me).

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

      well said, i agree.

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

      Someone wrote the bible, and it has been re-written over and over again. This is such primitive prehistoric thinking how can anyone bother with this ludicrous belief? If this so called god can't stop an incident like that which occurred on Friday, then what use is it?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Kev

      The statement that there are two gods in christianity is very false. Christianity is a monotheistic religion, meaning that we believe in one God. Satan is known as God's "fallen angel".

      July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • jollymeus

      Amen to that! Nicely stated.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  20. truth

    How about where was the devil? i'll answer that: EVERYWHERE. People are given a choice wether to do good or evil. There is soo much evil in this world, but through Chris you can be saved.

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


      July 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Anna Godda Davida

      Any claim to know the will of god can be measured on a sliding scale that starts with ignorance, courts with arrogance, and ends in hubris...

      July 25, 2012 at 4:09 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.