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. Jessica

    It is not for us to understand!! I believe in GOD our creator!!! Evil things happen in this world because we are all sinners and fall short of the the glory of GOD!!!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Which God??

      Hey Jessica, God told me that you and I should do 'evil-dance. together.

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

      Don't give in to the pressure to feel guilty for being a "sinner". This is how God designed you, as an imperfect human being. It's quite alright, less pressure to perform if we're not expected to be perfect!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Erika

      I think that God said "man has free will" in the Book. This guy had that free will. Satan was behind him, the entire time.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Roger

      Where was God when Eve and Adam ate the fruit of knowledge. He said eat any but not that fruit! Did we listen? God say love thy neighbor, and yet we make war and not listen. He say obey the commandments and we do not listen! So when we need his help; should he listen?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Ran

      Something is falling short all right.....

      July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  2. Ran

    Where was god in Aurora? Where is god in 90% of the world where people suffer everyday? People who can't find clean water to drink. People who are suffering under tyranny. But this God finds time to get people better jobs so they can buy fancy new cars? God would rather help quarterbacks throw game winning touchdowns? Why do people suffer? Why do GOOD people suffer? If you believe in God there are only questions. If you don't believe in God, the answer is simple.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • uysfl

      Deism is an alternative as well. Don't blind yourself with Atheism as the only answer.

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

      God is always there. So is Lucifer, God said he would give him control over the Earth for a short time, and he could do his work on it. Don't you think that this is exactly what his intentions are to do? Man has free will, b/c God gave it to all man. Lucifer just happens to know how to get people do his inspiration for now, until he's destroyed. duh.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Ran

      Deism is a belief in that there is some sort of god or gods. What do you do with that. What purpose does that serve? How do you worship that god? What does that god want you to do? Why is that god hiding? Deism answers nothing. Most atheist don't assert that there is no god-only that there is no evidence of a god. I have yet to hear of a rational explanation for a god. I believe that most deists cling to 'something' as a safety net...they still believe that if they don't believe in some sort of god that they will go to hell. That's pathetic.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Ran

      Erika...that is hilarious. Those stories used to scare me as a child as well. But I've grown up since then. I could be made to believe in a God—I'm open to the idea. But not with those silly stories. Religion is child abuse and you are the perfect example of why. Even in adulthood you cling to those stories. Your faith is based on fear. Only when you can look fear in the face can you know truth. The truth isn't scary.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  3. j d

    where did it go

    July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • LinCA

      @j d

      You said, "where did it go"
      Are you having trouble getting your posts to show?

      CNN uses WordPress blogs for their opinion pieces, and they use automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. If your post doesn't show up, it most likely had a forbidden word in it.

      On the Belief Blog, repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
            arse             as in Arsenal
            cock           as in cockatiel
            coon           as in cocoon
            cum             as in circumstance
            homo         as in homosexual
            poo           as in spooked
            rape         as in grape
            sex           as in homosexual
            spic         as in despicable
            tit               as in constitution or title
            vag           as in vague
            wonderful us

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  4. uysfl

    It's called Deism. Look it up. God can create all without the need to micro manage it. He won't interfere in your football game. There can be the belief in intelligent creation without separating yourself from 10% of you finances.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Madtown

      Well said, I agree completely.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Ran

      Deism seems like kinda a cop-out. It's make-believe for those who want goodies in heaven....and none of the religious BS. I can understand. But how do you talk to said make-believe some sort of god...or gods? How do you worship? Why do you worship? How does this god or gods want you to conduct your life? What's the point? Atheism simply states that we don't know if there is a god and that there is no scientific evidence for a god. Deism is just a stepping stone to Atheism. Time to put on your big boy pants.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  5. Bob

    "God is always good.

    Man is not.

    Don’t get the two confused."


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

      Ha! That's a joke. God has killed, and or, ordered people to be killed. is that good? You are ignorant of your own faith.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Bob

      It's a quote from a survivor. Do yourself a favor and read the article

      July 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Ran

      You repeated it like you agreed with the statement.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  6. wherewasCIA

    real question is, who is CIA spying on?

    Published on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 by Common Dreams
    NSA Whistleblowers: They're Spying on 'the Entire Country'
    Former NSA employees Thomas Drake, Kirk Wiebe and William Binney warn of widespread gov't surveillance

    too busy baiting poor blacks and muslims into "terrorist plots" around the country to catch the likes of Holmes.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  7. Aaron Denn

    We talk all the time of God not intervening when bad things happen. They are tragic yes...and my heart breaks for the families and victims more than I can communicate. Alas, here is my issue: we as humanity strive for the exercise of our freewill in all aspects of life. We demand we deserve it, and practice it daily, sometimes in "worship" of God, sometimes in denial of God. Therein lies the issue, we want freewill until tragedy strikes, then we curse, question, and rebuke God for not exercising His Sovereignty over everything to protect us. What makes us think we can have our cake and eat it to so to speak, have and exercise freewill whenever we want, yet expect God to intervene for us when someone else's freewill causes tragedy? Freewill has its pros and cons, and when we think that God should do what we think He should do, in spite of that freewill, that is when we think we know better than God – thus leading us to deny any chance that God could have been present in the tragedy.

    He did not ordain this tragedy, but in my experience, He can and will use this tragedy for the better. Sometimes it takes us stepping back and throwing up our hands asking God what He is doing, not condemning Him because He didn't stop bullets from being fired.

    My heart and prayers are with the victims and family members involved in this tragedy!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • my1cent

      How do you know for certain that God is a male?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • chris

      well said

      July 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • J.W

      If God was female then wouldnt we say Goddess?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  8. David W

    Sorry, but God is just a myth. Things like this should prove it to you. The NRA has more power than any worshiped God does.

    That may sound terrible, but it's time to deal with reality.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  9. chivazo

    Don't you know that the earth is hell. This is the punishment to the first humans created by God disobeying his commandments. I don't believe in everything written in the bible, but obiously someone ate the wrong apple! possible a hairy one. Well, that's why we suffer here. Now the reward is in the afterlife if you somehow love one anohter as it was commanded.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  10. Rod

    A followup to my first post. It is not that God allows as it was man's choosing to rebel against God and usher in the power of the Satan and his rule over man. What we are seeing is the result of man chossing to rebel against God and now these things are the fruit of that rebellion. By the way, why don't people ask where was God when Jesus suffered all that he did and was crucified and put to death? Jesus was the innocent paying the price for the guilty(mankind). Evil, sin and death are not God's will and never was. These things came about because mankind chose to rebel against God. The truth is, man allowed evl to enter the earth. We chose it, and God's plan to fix our mess is in the horrible death of Jesus. Thank you Jesus, and for your resurrection.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  11. rick1948

    If there is a God, then either he: 1) Could have stopped it and didn't, in which case, what the heck is he worth anyway, or 2) Couldn't have stopped it, in which case, what the heck is he worth anyway. My guess is that probably a devine being could have and would have stopped it. So, there is likely no devine being.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  12. Name*Pip

    Someone mentioned we wanted to get God out of the pledge of allegiance – he was never in it – congress put him there in 1954. It was a poem written after the civil war about a divided nation coming to terms with the devastating aftermath , with a call for peace. No mention of any deity – just "liberty and justice for all"

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

      Does "one nation, under God" not sound familiar to you?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  13. Mark

    People die EVERYDAY because of some unforeseen accident or intentional/unintentional murder. Why is it that "God" is only discussed in some cases and not in all or a better question, why discuss "God" in a public forum at all? There is a separation of Church and State for a very good reason, this country was founded for many reasons, religious freedoms being one of them. To look back on the tragedy in Aurora and question, where was "God"?, seems kind of feeble-minded to me. Furthermore, has anyone ever thought that maybe the "God" you worship does not nessecarily care about your mundane day to day existence and sees no reason to intervene on events he/she/it already knows about? (being omnipotent) I'm not going to come out and say God doesn't exist because I do have respect for religion no one can and will never know the answer to that question. However, it seems apparent to me that religion has done more harm then good and the separation between Church and State is needed now more then ever, I'm pretty sure I can teach my child good morals without it.

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

      I am not going to defend God in this. But I will say the only time God is brought up by the media is when tragedy strikes. The part of your comment that sticks out is teaching your child morals. Let me ask based on what? Where are there moral beliefs coming from. Because in order to teach a moral view of anything. It must be based in a wide held belief. That is not possible in today’s world view. Because all moral judgment is currently based on what individuals believe! The problem with that is no two people like what the other believe. Some believe you shouldn't lie while other stealing is ok. So which moral value are you picking to teach your children? They may end up in trouble if you pick incorrectly. In order to have a moral system you have to have absolute truths based on something outside of man’s ability then be willing to live by those truths no matter what. Perfect example: don't lie not even a small white lie. A lie is a lie no matter the size. This is the problem morality constructed by someone.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  14. Han Solo

    The bible is a decent story, but what it really needs is some stormtroopers and a wookie.

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

      Actually, the bible is a horrible book of stories. And yes, all would have been better with a Wookie.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Ben Kenobi

      This isn't the book you're looking for... you can go about your business... move along..move along

      July 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  15. Rose

    God is letting us know there is an INTENSE need for CHANGE in the human population at this time. God is making this very CLEAR. It is now up to US..........with the help of God. Everyone now needs to turn inward and bring forth "compassion toward all", as well as giving attention to love and service. Be kind, do things to help others and serve those in need....ALWAYS. The time is NOW.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  16. danthefisherman

    These anti religion people sound just like Obama blaming Bush.

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

      Don't let facts obstruct your view. Bush did bring us from surplus to deficit, borrowing trillions for a war of choice. That is a fact only mental midgets dispute.
      As to God... if the Holocaust did not convince the Chosen People of the implausibility of their all-loving and infinitely merciful god, the Aurora massacre is going to shake people's faith even less. Because faith is impervious to rational argument and it's STILL seen as a virtue to believe something for absolutely no reason at all. Start here, when you decide to re-wire your mind for 21st century living, so that one day humans can be as advanced philosophically as they are technologically. For now, you stand in the way.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Kerry

      I would agree with that. Obama, Bush made me spend 5 trillion. Stop blaming a God you clearly don't know and try the society you have contributed to and love. These wonderful people who go around killing for no reason have grown up in a time with a world view of if it works for great but it's not for me. Come on people stop being cowards a take some blame society you helped to create. Whether you chose to believe in God or not doesn’t determine if he exist. However a world without a divine presence is a world in chaos. That seems to be the direct or path mankind in walking.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  17. steven

    The invisible man in the sky was taking the day off.....

    July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  18. j d

    i don't go for the idea that God had anything to do with this human tragedy.

    humans are responsible for what they do.

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

      Amazing how we dont include God in our everyday affairs. But when something goes wrong we want to say God where were you. Smh! First include him in your every activity! We must understand the power is in our hands we have the authority over these situations but if we are not using and excercising it we can go blaming God when something goes wrong.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  19. Nobody N. Particular

    God had nothing to do with any of these actions, ever. Man is the only creature, that we know of, that is capable on a regular bases act contrary to his instinct; but sometime there are people for whom such things are impossible and act out (instinctually). Holmes sounds like just such a person, that his anger and rage had swelled up within him that he felt like stricking out at those around him. He allowed himself to become delusional (as opposed to an organic issue, like a brain tumor) and allowed that illusion to motivate his hatred. If anything, he was a man possesed by evil thoughts and emotions that he allowed to manipulate him into his horrific actions, God is not to blame, but neither is Satan; because each person must be held accountable by their creator for the actions they take.

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

      Agree 100%. If you look at Matthew, Satan takes Christ up to the mountian top and says "All this I will give you to if you bow down and worship me". How could Satan give womething if it wsn't his? This is Satan's worlk. Eventually Christ wil return and as Julian of Norwich says: "All will be well and all be well and all manner of things will be well." I am not worried. I know where I am giong. I don't know where the murderer is going but that is not my concern. (In terms of heaven or not) because God is infintely merciful and He loves believers or non-believers.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Ran

      My contention is that both god and Satan are mythological and therefor made up. Which makes both of you agreeing on nonsense.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  20. walter

    Where is God? In a book on MYTHOLOGY called the Bible, The Book of Mormon, the Qu'ran, the Bhagavad-Gita- books written BY MAN to CONTROL man.

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

      The Bible written by God using man as an instrument. God in working clothes so to speak. Keep an open mind. All will be well

      July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Del

      Walter, just hang on a little longer and you will find out where God is. He's still where's He been trying to get people like you to trust Him as Savior so you won't have to go to hell. He still loves you even though you don't believe in Him.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Nobody N. Particular


      Just because you refuse to see what is obvious to anyone of faith doesn't invalidate their beliefs. You seem to subscribe to the same point of view that Karl Marx presented in his Das Kapital, that religions only purpose is to control the masses. By assuming this stance you prevent yourself from considering how faith (in a divine being) motivates people to become more than they are, and to strive for some sort of spiritual perfection. God is the source of all things, in the fact that God created the Universe, and everything else sprung from that, the complexity of the Universe show the beauty of God's design. To those who lost love one during this act of evil, I hope that God's peace finds you and helps you through this crisis.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:52 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.