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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:

Lenny
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.

Kyle
"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:

Harleyxx
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. Eric

    First understand that God is in and of ALL Things. There is 'No' thing which is not of God. Our highest thoughts are those thoughts of Love and in those thoughts and those thoughts alone can we find the will and voice of God. When someone does something outside their highest thought, then they act on self serving actions outside their highest thoughts. God's will cannot be thwarted, because his will is for us all to eventually return to him. Out of Love for each other, we should never interrupt anyone's path and do all we can so that we all can experience Heaven on Earth until its our time to return home.

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

      So god is in bullets too?

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

      Bullets were made from the minerals found in the ground then shaped by Man to do harm against each other. God did not create the Bullet – Man did. The very same minerals could've been used to assist rather than harm.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      Man also created that bible you claim as the word of god.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Eric

      I never claimed that the Bible was the difinitive word of God. Words are always subject to the interpretation of the individual (Hense Religion). What I said is "Our highest thoughts are those thoughts of Love and in those thoughts and those thoughts alone can we find the will and voice of God. When someone does something outside their highest thought, then they act on self serving actions outside their highest thoughts."

      July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  2. AMusingPilgrim

    I just lost my Dad suddenly. I could not see where God was through all the darkness. Then, I noticed that God was in the kindness of strangers, a comforting hug, a compassionate touch or what was alive after death. God appeared different to me – not as vengeful but in the details of life moving on. God was there, I just perceived the Divine through suffering in a different way. I hope God's healing touch to all the families and friends of the victims and that they keep their eyes out now for those gestures of Light and not the Darkness of death and suffering. Without darkness, light would not exist. God Speed. Shaun in Adams, MA

    July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  3. zeus_z

    America is also becoming a faithless nation- "Keep God and Christ Quiet, dont offend anyone"..even on Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Christ, we are told dont say Merry Christmas. And this is a God loving nation? Sure there are other religions but- just think, its gone as far as the day of celebrating Christs birth, we are told to take the manger off the Church yard.

    Do we say this to muslims or Jews, etc? People in this nation are becoming ashamed of God and Christ. it says in the Bible this is the sign of near end of times.

    What happened in aurora is horrible. Read up on Job.

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

      what if you're not christian? and not celebrating christmas? What make you think your God is better than My God. "the fonz"

      July 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      a few things here....

      First, jesus wasn't born on December 25th or even in the month of December. if you read the bible you would know this. Celebrating the birth of your savior months after he was born is disingenuous.

      Second, the book you adhere to as the "word of god" is nothing but the words of mere mortals trying to control populations, then other mortals came along and edited the book for money, power, and to convert pagans. Learn the history of your religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  4. JoshT

    Just as a point, the absence of something does not prove it doesn't exist. We can't see gravity, or hold it in our hands, but we can see and test the effects of it. People who choose to believe in God see evidence of his existence all around them. The earth, formed perfectly with just the right balance of various forms of matter to sustain life, just close enough to the sun, but not too close, the fact that no other known planets, even those in the habitable zones of their stars, contain or have ever contained life, the balance of seasons, the day and night cycle. All of these things testify of God's existence to those who choose to believe. Those who don't believe see a harmony of scientific laws and principles. The only real difference between those two groups is one believes God is the architect (creation was an intentional, conscious act) and the other believes it was an unlikely, random chance event. My viewpoint is, if God exists and He created all things, would he not be a supreme, master scientist with a perfect understanding of all the laws of physics, chemistry, and nature? The collective power and intellect of the best scientists and machines the human race has produced is even at present day barely able to scratch the surface of what God has done. By the time we understand the "technology" and know-how needed to create a star, I'm willing to wager that we, as a species, will no longer be able to doubt God's existence. But we will still be able to choose whether to obey him or not.

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

      If I fall off a building, God won't catch me. But I most certainly will plummet to my death because of gravity. Facts > beliefs.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      the problem is you assume that a place like earth is rare in a universe made up with billions of galaxies with billions of stars within each galaxy. That is a rather large assumption.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  5. bob

    If all the effort made to post 133+ pages of comments here were used towards something practical, we could all take the rest of the year off.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  6. Rob

    God was on Vacay. It is the summer.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Renny Jones

      Where was Bat Man?

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

      batman is actually clark kent... shhh!!! don't tell anyone

      July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Rob

      Dang, and superman won't be here until next summer!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  7. Geraldo

    Where was God when CNN started decades ago? this network is an atrocity – another anti-religion piece by CNN

    July 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • happily agnostic

      then why are you here? no one's forcing you to be on this "atrocity." go to one of your nice safe christian web sites and sit with the other members of the choir who are being preached to. seems you either forgot or never read the gospels in which Jesus clearly shows that he came for "sinners" and to show them that god's love and mercy was theirs for the asking. he didn't feel the need to save the righteous (clearly, like yourself); they were doing just fine

      July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  8. Ken

    Adam and Eve chose a course independent from God with Satan at the helm (Genesis). They wanted to live life with their own rules and consequences. After thousands of years, every form of manmade government has been tried to answer the universal question, can man successfully rule himself without God? God let this question be answered not by bullying but by letting it be tried. God does not support any manmade governments or control the outcome of a sports event or some crazy shooter's ill will. His purpose is for everyone to live on earth as it was originally intended.

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

      God should have tried actually creating obedient children on his first try, if that's all he wanted – it's his own fault. He went out of his way to tell them about the apple, knowing they were idiots who barely knew what was going on, and then he made a point to leave them with it.

      God is either a fool, or a jerk. You choose. I don't purposely leave a cupcake at nose level on my coffee table, show it to my dog, then demand that my dog not touch it, then get angry when he does. THAT WOULD MAKE ME A DICK.

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

      So there's no point in praying to him then?

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

      Seriously Sam? He said don't eat from one tree? Out of hundreds of trees? Is that so difficult?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      Romans 13:1-7 states, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has inst...itu...ted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

      Have you ever read the bible? Ever?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  9. vince

    God is punishing us because we accept the gays and the blacks in our culture.

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

      LOL

      Doesn't sound like you do, though. Nice try.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  10. CG

    Satan is the ruler of Earth. That's the way it has always been, but his rule will come to an end eventually and he'll spend eternity burning for his actions. Satan wants to drag as many innocent people down with him as possible which is why we see so much evil in this world. People are easily won over by appeals to their innermost desires. God will provide for those who seek Him, but that doesn't neccessarily mean He will save someone from death. Once a person has found God they're ready to leave this corrupt world whenever their time comes.

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

      Join the dark side... we have cookies...

      July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  11. Johnny Seed

    THIS is an Article Designed to DIVIDE and.....People are falling for it? I chalk that up to EVIL!

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

      good comment!

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

      right!

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

      Sad, but true!

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

      Division is exactly what is going to happen when you must decide are you for God or against? There is no room for sitting on the fence. We spend way too much time trying to please society instead of pleasing God.

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

      This is the information age. You call it a design to divide, when you don't know if God sent a word to someone through another's comments on this board. This is where Christianity fails sometimes. People speaking from flesh instead of spirit. You don't think intellectuals have a soul that needs to be saved too? I'm an intellectual and a Christian. I guess I need to go back to college for another four years if I want answers because people like you are afraid to engage me.

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

      The way you randomly capitalize words and use capslock for no good reason tell me you likely think many things are evil.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  12. Anonymous010

    As always, I take issue when anyone equates religion with morality. The most violent atrocities the world has ever seen were and are being committed by men and women who are devout in whatever religion they cling to. As much as it can be used to promote peace, religion can be used to promote terrible acts of violence. Whether or not it's part of any particular deity's plan that those people died, I can't say – nor can anyone else. What I *can* say, though, is that nobody needs religion to be a good person. We can decide to be good or bad all on our own.

    As others have put it, we've been "telling God to go away" not because we all necessarily want to distance ourselves from religion or faith (though some of us do, and there's nothing wrong with that), but because we want to be tolerant to peoples of other faiths who may not share our beliefs. How would you feel if you were a Christian parent raising your child in an Islamic country, and every day your child had to pray to Allah and observe other Muslim traditions in school? I can imagine that a great many of the same Christians who complain that there isn't enough of their god in this country would be bellowing loud cries of oppression were they in such a situation. Well, to remind them – this country is NOT a Christian country. The United States was founded as a place where men and women of any faith could escape persecution for their beliefs. That means we need to be tolerant of others' beliefs, and that we mustn't assume that others share our beliefs or try to force our beliefs onto others.

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

      If your a Christian parent trying to raise your child in an Islamic country you are persecuted, threatened and/or beheaded. When was the last time you have seen a predominantly Christian nation act like that.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • happily agnostic

      @ Inypolitic: How about America in the 1600's? Plenty of people hanged & burned back then for supposed un-christian activities.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  13. FajitaBob

    Probably won't be long before God dumps this ant farm in the trash.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  14. jcd

    well put, walter.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  15. Ellee

    God allowed it because it was their time to go. God also caused his riffle to jam because he wasn't ready for the others. We all are appointed a time to die. Why do things like this happen? 1) To remind us that life is short, and that this life is full of choices. Who will you follow?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  16. TruthSayer

    Our God is a retarded being of a class of life that we cannot imagine. These beings are so large that our little universe is, in relation to their size, about the size of a fish aquarium. When you pray you're praying to a huge retarded alien child that is not even of this universe. Our little universe is a retarded, but superior to you, child's toy ant farm. Just live until you die and hope, praying won't help, that he doesn't focus on you.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  17. ljaz

    You cannot be "given" free will – it goes against the very definition. It is appalling how narrow-minded Christians are. God is an idea, a system of beliefs, something to blame for bad days, something to praise on good ones. It's time we all grow up and realize that the human race is merely a fraction of a grain of sand on a universal beach. We were not created and we are only here by a very very miniscule chance. Having said all of the above, I think this is indeed a tragedy that could have been avoided. We have bigger problems in this world if people think it is OK to go out and massacre dozens of people on a whim.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  18. Ematicic

    Unfortunately God downloaded an illegal version and has already seen the movie previously. I therefore suspect that He, or possibly She was in London for the Olympics where there are probably a whole bunch of people praying to perform well.

    Honestly, I am an atheist for this reason. It is a hard time for these people without introducing false ideologies. You have a better time hoping for a real Batman to show up that one of the hundred false Gods.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  19. Miguel

    right on Michael!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  20. karl

    Where was God? Dietrich Bonhoffer, a courageous pastor and theologian in Germany during Hitler's reign, said it best when asked the same question by a fellow political prisoner when they saw someone severely beaten by the guards. "Where is your God now?" this agnostic asked him. Bonhoffer answered, "He's right there taking the beating." Precisely the central point of the Christian faith. And this is the only lasting source of consolation for those who have lost loved ones.... Jesus, the incarnation of God himself, means we are not alone in our suffering. God is with us. Ultimately, he also delivers us from our suffering if we hold on to him, though we may have to suffer many things in this life. True life is bigger than all our pain. True life is "God with us."

    July 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
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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.