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. WeWereOnTheMoon

    "If you believe strong and long enough, it will happen..." – to me that is the believers approach to the concept of "God", I don't know if God exists but to me it sounds a lot like wishful thinking. And if God did exist, I believe he wouldn't mind me saying that.

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

      Dear On-the-Moon. I can tell you one thing I know for sure God did. He saved my soul and changed my life. There's no denying that. He will do the same for you and you won't have to wait. It can happen in an instant! Jesus said if you would come to Him and believe on His name you would be saved. It happened to me in an instant!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  2. Clara Koonce

    Everything is within God's permissive will. Mankind, too, has a will. If you live in a city and know rats are climbing into babies' cribs, you, not God, are allowing it. If you know there are mental problems that suggest a violent or deviate personality in your child, your friend, your student, your neighbor, and say, or do, nothing, you, and not God, allow the tragedies that result. We have washed our selves in so much political correctness, so much mind your own business, so much don't want to get involved, we have become sterile, no longer caring humans. So much easier to push all responsibility of every kind onto the federal government, whose members will gladly take more of your tax dollars in order to to create a program, no matter how much it costs, how ineffectively it will be managed, and how useless the program proves to be. God will not be mocked forever, America. Read Isaiah.

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

      You said all the things you know for sure God didn't do...now tell me one thing you know for sure that God does.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  3. Stevo

    The insane reasoning that all religious "GODS" are referred to as Dudes (men) is ignorance and ancient rhetoric. Not to mention insulting to women ( of all religions) to keep them inferior to men. The ghosts of religion and education live to this day in ideological mambo jumbo. AMAZING!!!

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

    Dear CNN;

    Please do the following-

    1) Stop publishing your "faith blog". Its rather silly and isn't news.

    2) Remove the comments sections from your website.


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

      I think CNN keeps both in order to wake up the idiots that still believe in sky fairies!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  5. World

    Where was God in the Aurora massacre? Get over yourself America, 12 people died… go have a look at the ‘World’ section of CNN, it’s sad but it’s really not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  6. FajitaBob

    So, THIS is what passes for reporting onC NN–doing all you can to instigate a fight? YOU GUYS ARE WORTHLESS!!!!!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  7. speedro

    Umm, there is no God people. You are wasting your own time with thinking of this kind.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  8. David F.

    I see no conflcit between a loving God and the presence of evil. We have free will, and can choose whether to act in a Godly manner. Unfortunately, some will choose to do evil. None of us can ever know what the ultimate consequences of such behavior are. Why does God not intervene to stop it? That may be something we only understand on the other side of life.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  9. DeeCee1000

    Why do human beings think everything, including the weather, revolves (no pun intended) around them?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  10. Johnny Seed

    So...in a BLOG we are going to try to understand and explain all of the RULES of the UNIVERSE.... RULES THAT GOD AND MAN ARE SUBJECT TO....KNOWN RULES AND UNKNOWN RULES..... THIS IS THE ULTIMATE SILLINESS!!!!!!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  11. john

    may god forgive the shooter cause i wont...... and may god forgive all you people who can not see. i do forgive all of you...
    with love JOHN

    July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  12. Jesse

    What is wrong with CNN that a) they think it is newsworthy to ask where an imaginary mythical figure was and that b) they think anyone cares about their God or their religion?? Is this a news site or some Watchtower rag? There is no such thing as God, get it the F out of a newspaper that is supposed to be about facts. And things THAT ACTUALLY HAPPEN. Get this garbage off your site!!!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  13. tonythecroat

    We just have a small piece of the spectrum of understanding that our senses or brain allows. It would be selfish to think that our dimention of life and existance is the only one. Even nothing , emptyness has to be created. Can you fathom that? We understand a fraction of our surroundings. It's true the web of life our DNA didn't put itself together that is simply and plainly fairytail thinking. That thought is or beleif is just mindless. It's a mystery given to us by the maker himself. It makes life interesting Think to yourselves... beleiving in something based on faith can only be done by humans nothing else living that we know has forethough and choice. Evidence in GOD? I told my child the other morning as I looked upon the clouds over the mountain side "Look sweety it's like a painting on a canvas for our eyes to enjoy by GOD" How could that combination of events to make that happen ever happen without a higher power? Think about that really think about it. Chance or coincidence doesn't play any part in that.

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

      I'll excuse the obvious language barrier, but still–Pure rubbish.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  14. Max

    God was busy in Iraq and Afghanistan counting all the dead people. "You know who they are" or maybe not being that thousands die every year at the hands of the Americans and the best they get is a 5 second bit about collateral damage. WAKE UP America...white people are not special. Killing is killing whether it be in a movie house here in the US or via a drone strike on a wedding party in Afghanistan. The dead really do not care. At the very least the people in Colorado have some idea who did the killing or at least the opportunity to prove and then punish someone for the crime. The people in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine and you name the place have no recourse, they just have to live with our mindless killing. That is, until they get fed up and fight back, i.e. 911.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  15. Daniel

    Our protection, Lenny? What is this, some sort of protection racket he's got going on? If we don't pay tribute, he'll do terrible things to us? Definitely not worthy of worship. Now, if you want to make the case for a cruel god that we should fear, then go right ahead, cause that makes more sense than a "loving god"

    July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  16. Nancy

    God was there in that movie theater, just as He is with us every day, every minute. He is constant, He is the sure thing we can all hold on to. Yes it was a horrible thing that happened, but in that horrible moment, lives were saved by the sacrifice of others, a friend stayed by the side of another to keep pressure on her wound and saved her life, a couple realized the love they have for each other and are starting a marriage. While the losses were massive, and hurt deeply, there was good in that theater and there are wonderful things being remembered about average people who just went to a movie. Maybe hundreds of miles away it is easy for me to say this, I didn't lose someone I love, but I will never belive God blinked. He was there, He is always there, in our best and worst moments. All is possible with God and He could have intervened and stopped that young man but we do have free will. With that gift, we must learn to live with both the good and the bad that it brings to mankind. You can make a choice to believe and say God isn't real or that he abandoned the people in that theater. Someday, when a little girl and a baby boy are who were in that theater are grown, they'll tell you God was there – they are living proof.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Go sell crazy somewhere else... we're all stocked up here.

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

      Free yourself from the myth of god.

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

      Well put, Nancy.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  17. Kta

    To those who belive God exists because we belive in laws set by God.

    To those who dont believe God does not exists because they want God to play by their laws that make them happy not God.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • david esmay

      Stop making nonsense.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  18. aqua

    Here they go again Lord, blaming you on what happens.....I just hope all the people who were taken had accepted you as their Savior....

    July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      How's that butt kissing working out for ya?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  19. openyoureyes

    So many blind and lost folks here eating up this topic because they are non-believers. CNN, great job on bringing this topic up and opening the door for all of this nonsense in the midst of a tragedy. We will never understand why it happened. And those who are coming on here just to bash Christians are nothing short of immature. This earth was not intended for rainbows and sunshine at all times. Bad things happen, tragedies strike, tough times are inevitable. Does this mean there is no God? Absolutely not. His ways are not our ways. We are only human and our finite minds will never understand an infinite God.

    Go ahead and believe we evolved from monkeys or just magically appeared from a big bang. Don't these theories sound far more foolish than an Almighty God? Just because you can't explain or prove God's existence doesn't make him any less real. Everyone has the free will to believe what they want, but I know who created me. And my creator will give James Holmes the proper justice on his time and the way he chooses. Whether it's in this life or the next.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Jesus was not the son of god. If you actually do a little research, you'll find that men DECIDED to deify your jesus.
      But hey... I'm sure that your fear based decision to believe in the fairy tale lets you sleep at night. Religion will be the destruction of mankind. Good riddance.

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

      "Go ahead and believe we evolved from monkeys or just magically appeared from a big bang. Don't these theories sound far more foolish than an Almighty God? "

      No, they do not. Just because you personally have not studied science and natural history does not mean they are not real. You can't just say something and therefore it becomes true, but then again, you are a person who clearly thinks that you can, since you 'believe' in god. Pick up a book, dummy.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  20. AM

    Good is in the center of every experience that appears to be negative. If we understand the value of anything that happens, then we know the good that it offers. Just because we do not like it does not make it bad. The word or concept “bad” is a value judgment based on our limited point of view or our selfish desire of what we prefer to be experiencing. Most people do not see the good because they label something as bad, and then, of course, that becomes their reality. Most of what we call bad is because we are labeling it bad – because we do not like it and either do not see, or want to see the value it offers us spiritually. It is our inability to see things from the perspective of the Universal Self, the Universal Spirit or God that contributes to our labeling anything as bad.

    We learn through trial and error. Some of the trials and some of the errors can be very painful. Which one of us has not had many learning experiences that were painful only because we did not apply the lessons what they were offered to us in less painful ways? God tried to teach us in more gentle ways. However, for whatever reason, we continued to do what we knew we should not have continued to do. We put off applying the lesson and doing what we knew we should do until the pain of not applying the lesson was so great that we decided not to continue doing what we knew we should have stopped doing long ago. Whew, that was a long sentence. However, re-read it until you get it. It is the reason for most of what we call painful lessons.

    The spirits in the young children and the spirits in the bodies of their parents are eternal spirits. Spirits do not have an age. Spirits just have different levels of awareness, understanding, acceptance and ability to apply universal laws and principles. Spirits just have different levels of potential for manifesting the Glory of God based on what they can handle. What they can handle as spiritual beings expressing the Glory of Infinite God is determined by what lessons they have learned and apply in their daily living.

    In order to truly know what we did to someone, we must eventually have it done unto us. Until you have tasted both sides of the situation, you really do not know the situation.

    Remember, the spirit that you are never dies. Only the physical vehicle that you are presently using is what dies. No one can ever kill you. They can only kill your body. No one can ever kill the spirit that you are experiencing as your mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, friend or lover. They only kill the body. Even if the death of your loved one, is a painful and tortuous one for their body, the spirit that was living through the body of the loved one had a lesson to learn through the way he or she died and also had a lesson to learn through the actual death. There can be no other answer if God is an Omnipresent and compassionate God.

    All those who were close to the loved one who was injured or killed also had spiritual lessons offered to them through the experience. There are no chance encounters. There are no chance births. There are no chance deaths. There are no chance relationships. Not if you believe in an Omnipresent, compassionate God.

    Omnipresent means this God is living through all creation, therefore this Omnipresent God feels all the pain and the suffering that any creatures experience. Since we live, move and have our very being within Omnipresent God, what we feel – God feels.

    A compassionate God does not punish. A compassionate God educates. We may not like the education. However, which one of us is really doing all that we really know we should be doing for the Glory of God? Sometimes a compassionate God has to kick us in the head to get our attention. Sometimes a compassionate God has to grab us by our shoulders, shake us and yell in a loud voice, “What Do I Have to Do to Get Your Attention?” Sometimes a compassionate God has to take away our eyes for us to truly see. That would not be a bad as we think since we will have other eyes someday and somewhere in a future body. Until then, do what you know you should be doing, and do it NOW. It just might prolong your present earthly life or the life of a loved one.

    What you do unto the least of all, you do unto God. Be very, very careful why you do what you do. You will be educated – if you were not doing it for the reasons you would understand if it was being done unto you. Perhaps you will be born into a family that has no food and you will look at the humans who have plenty and wonder why they are not sharing some with you. Perhaps you will be born in a society that kills and tortures their citizens and you will look at the rest of the world and wonder why they are not helping you.

    If we believe in an Omnipresent God, then all has a purpose, even if we not like or understand the purpose. Live your life thanking God for all you have and pray for God to show you how all that you experience has a divine purpose – whether it is to educate you to the error of your ways or offer you an opportunity to glorify God in a way only you can Glorify God

    Truly appreciate that you are aware of being aware. Truly appreciate that you have had a chance to experience anything, anywhere and you will begin to see the working of God in all that you have and all that you do.

    Any loved one you have lost. Any loved one that has died and left you with only memories. Remember, the spirit that was truly them did not die and they are not dead. The spirit that was playing the role of your loved one is eternally learning and still living for the Glory of God. They do not want you to be sad or to be unhappy that they are no longer with you.

    Appreciate the time you had with them and appreciate that you can still remember experiencing them. This will make your life lighter and easier to continue. This will allow them to continue on their journey wherever it will take them with lightness and happiness.

    Bad things do not happen to good people. People just resist seeing the Glory of God working out in each and every thing that happens. In their resistance, they find their pain. In their acceptance, they find their blessing.

    Which will you choose to look for? Will you call it bad and find more of bad? Or will you pray for the lesson that will lead you to the treasure of seeing the Glory of God working in your life, both through you and your loved ones? Will you call it a curse or will you call it a blessing? Whichever you choose to call it, you will most surely find it.

    In the greatest tragedy you will find the greatest treasure – if you are open to to, desire it, look for it and listen for answers that you may not want to accept because of your resistance to what happened.

    The spirit we are never dies. Your loved one never died. Only the human vehicle that we perceived as our loved one ceased regenerating the cells of the body we called mother father, son daughter, John or Mary. Pray the spirit of our loved one learned what they were offered to learn through the experience so they do not have to experience something similar again. Pray for spiritual understanding in our own journey also – so we also do not have to experience something similar again.

    Remember, God does not punish – God educates. All exists and happens for the Glory of God – whether we like it or not. Look into your own lives and what are you not doing that you know you should be doing. What are you doing to others, including the birds, the bees, the animals, the planet itself – that you would not like done unto you? You can only learn through tasting the effects of what you have done to others. You want a cherry tree, you cannot plan lemon seeds. You have no right to expect from the universe, God, what you are not willing to do first. One way or another, all that you experience is to offer you spiritual understanding of the Omnipresence of The Universal Spirit we call God. This is so we can be better vehicles for the will of God to express through us and as us. We are here for the universe and the desires of God to manifest – we are not here for ourselves.

    Blessings will come and blessed experiences will come the more you plant what you want to reap – to ALL the manifestations of God that can feel what we do unto them.

    First truly appreciate how beyond incredible is your awareness of being aware and tears of thankfulness should start flowing down your cheeks.

    I woke up and found my pregnant wife dead of an overdose of drugs when I was twenty-one earth years. I was married for only two months. It took me two years to smile again. Then I read about a young man who was driving home with his wife after their wedding and she was killed in a car accident. Compared to the man who had forty years of married life – I was robbed. Compared to the young man who lost his wife on their wedding day – I was truly blessed with two months longer than him. Compared to him – I had a LONG time of the joy of marriage and knowing my wife. Reality is what reality is – it is neither good nor bad. What we choose to compare our reality to will determine whether we experience our reality as heaven or hell. Choose wisely – be thankful for your awareness of being aware – without it, you would have nothing – you would not even know you had nothing. Be thankful for the simple fact of your awareness of being aware and you will know the secret of the alchemist – the key to paradise – right here and right now.

    It is very simple – the seed thoughts you have will grow into the emotion-trees you experience. Keep planting the seed-thoughts of greed and unappreciation and you will keep experiencing the emotion-trees of pain and suffering. Stop watering the emotion-trees of greed and unappreciation and the negative emotion-trees will wither and die. Keep planting the seed-thoughts of thankfulness for having the experience of ANYTHING at all – and you will begin to see emotion-trees of happiness grow in your consciousness.

    There is an old saying. To have love and lost is better than having never loved at all. Praise God in all things and ask for the spiritual knowledge of the divine treasure within each and every happening in the universe.

    Not to make light of any spirit-humans painful experience.

    However –

    There is nothing little we cannot bear – if we truly appreciate our awareness of being aware.



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


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

      I am not sure...did you get to say enough? Even God would not read this diatribe.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • david esmay

      Nonsense. You base your whole statement on something that doesn't exist. Asking a supernatural being to perform a certain task is not a legitimate mechanism for change.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Well my dear verbose idiot... I've made a deal with your omnipresent god and I get your "soul" (actually, there is no such thing) when you die. I'm gonna set you on fire for all eternity. Your god has sold you out. Feel all warm and fuzzy about your god now?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • david esmay

      It's funny how you attach all the frailty and emotions of humans to the great and powerful god. Why for instance would a god punish or reward the objects of his creation? Why would he/she/it be a jealous god, or a vengeful god. Complete and utter nonsense on top of a big steaming pile of bovine scatology.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • speedro


      July 25, 2012 at 2:50 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.