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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. Phil

    God LOVES everyone and gives us all FREE WILL to choose our actions. This is why these horrible events take place – God doesn't want these things to happen – MAN does. Just as God was around when Cain killed Able he's alive and want's a positive relationship with everyone. He has given us the tools through his word to live a righteous and great life – if we would all just believe and follow his word none of these things would happen. This shooting and all tragedies are sad but God is here just waiting for America to seek him again. Bring back God and discipline- hard work and ethics -into this country and prosperity will return. Seek God and you will be blessed.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  2. Tate Miller

    Like several others who have already said it in various ways, get over it. There is no God. The quicker we move on from the myth of religion, the better the chance for humanity to survive and succeed.

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

      Situations like the Colorado shooting have us as society asking why do bad things happen to good people. in the Book of Habakkuk which was written about 605 B.C and God provides an answer to his 2 question and ours today. Here was Habakkuk's Complaint: Habakkuk 1 vs 2-4 – How long, Lord, must I call for help,but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!"but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice?Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
      Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.The wicked hem in the righteous,so that justice is perverted. Here is Gods answer in verse 5 – "Look at the nations and watch—
      and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. Habakkuks second complaint 1 vs 13- Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? Gods response 2 vs 3- For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. So considering all the bad things that goes on in the world like Colorado God says there will come a time when these people will face him for their actions and that his word will not prove false. It may seem to us that people get away with things but God proves here that it isn't so..

      July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  3. Jeff Michaels

    God has been phoning it in since WAY before Jesus died. The Romans, the Phoenicians, the NAZI's did much worse. And God? Out to lunch.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  4. joe

    The wicked shall be turned into heII, and all the nations that forget God.

    Psalm 9:17

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

    Another mindless question in a God-saturated culture. Nature save us (by your evolutionary hand) from those who make up a Super-Nature, put their own face on it, and call it God.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  6. my1cent

    God told me that he takes restroom breaks and something bad happens

    July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  7. Jen

    There is no such thing as 'God'.

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

      prove it

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

      Prove it? Everyone wants proof he is real, Well prove to me hes not.....

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

      Oh...there is a god, but not in the sense the organized religious groups make money off. god is there to take care of those that we fail, situations we do not handle and to sort out the mess after we have failed at being the supreme beings(sic) on this planet.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Michael

      The question that we are asking today was asked of God by Habakkuk more like a complaint in the Book of Habakkuk which was written about 605 B.C and God provides an answer to his 2 question and ours today. Here was Habakkuk's Complaint: Habakkuk 1 vs 2-4 – How long, Lord, must I call for help,but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!"but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice?Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
      Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.The wicked hem in the righteous,so that justice is perverted. Here is Gods answer in verse 5 – "Look at the nations and watch—
      and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. Habakkuks second complaint 1 vs 13- Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? Gods response 2 vs 3- For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. So considering all the bad things that goes on in the world like Colorado God says there will come a time when these people will face him for their actions and that his word will not prove false. It may seem to us that people get away with things but God proves here that it isn't so..

      July 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  8. kelvoir

    Doesn't religion speak of the Devil? Simply, the power of the Devil exceeded the goodness in God....Wow that was certainly difficult to solve.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Yeah. Christians refuse to admit that Lucifer has any real power, and yet they blame him for everything. Religion cripples the mind's ability to use reason.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  9. BooseyBoo

    Really? God has given people free will...and unfortunately with free bad will things will happen. Why do we die? Why is there illness? Why are there birth defects? Why are there earthquakes that kill people? Why are there cars that kill people? Why? Why? Why? Stupid article.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  10. Geraldo

    where was God when he let a european socialist win the White House 4 years ago?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Pam R.

      Where was your psychiatrist and why aren't you on your meds Geraldo?

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

      Jerry, I was in bed ith your wife.

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

      Jerry, I was in bed with your wife.

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

      read the bible....

      July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  11. tradcatholic

    Why is CNN always attacking God? God never promised that life would be a paradise, or even pleasant. He promised a soft landing at the end of life in Heaven, for those who deserve it. Maybe CNN just doesn't understand anything about God or religion or it would know this and not ask stupid questions.

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

      How is this an attack? It's a question. One many have been and will continue to ask.

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

    If only evil people died, you would know for certain that God exists and there wouldn't be any need for faith.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  13. Colin

    I do not believe in God, but I have no issues with those who do. But please, do not say this was God's will or the Devil's wish that this shooting happened. This was a disturbed individual who obviously is insane, so please do not quote some obscure Bible passage that tries to explain this tragedy. Again, by all means believe in God, but don't make everything that happens in this world part of a plan. There are crazy people out there, plain and simple.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • irma Kinapoe

      the bible says that the devil comes to steal kill and destroy God has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly so when you see killing or destroying or stealing you know it is the emeny himself but if you dont beleive that then you have a veil over your spirit and you will never see it that way unless you decide to give Jesus your life and let him give you peace and understanding.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  14. JD

    If there is no god, then we do not know what is good and what is evil.
    If we think there is no god because this kind of bad things happen (you think he allowed it to happen), then you think god is just and he should not have allowed it to happen.
    You think god should always punish bad people only and keep and protect the good. Then question is who is the good people? Are you? You are and I too am bad people. Why? We are commiting sins and breaking rules even laws in our daily lives. If the god of justice judges all of us, then there are no people left alive.
    Do not think you are a good person. You are less worse person than the one who committed this crime but still are a condemned person who needs God's mercy and forgiveness.

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

      i feel sorry for you.

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

      The existence or lack thereof of a god does not define good and evil. Good and evil is and always has been in the eye of the beholder.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  15. James Jones

    Our world is not heaven. And not meaning to add insult to injury, particularly at this sad hour, very few truly belong to Jesus. Matthew 7:14, Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. America is an ungodly nation, are we stupid. And as ugly as it is our churches are never questioned, therefore, only a few recognize this. America’s worldly churches follow the unholy word of man while only few follow the holy word of God.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Former Christian

      The branch of philosophy known as ETHICS existed before your Bible ever did. Don't tell me that being a Christian is the only way to being moral. That's incredibly arrogant.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • arose4yu

      Former Christian...but in the times of Socrates and Aristotle....by gosh...there was more than one God!

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

      And before any written word was etched in stone there were ethical beings that had evolved from apes.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  16. myweightinwords

    I think the harshest answer to this question has to be the one that implies that god did this to punish us for whatever perceived sin.

    It harkens to one of the main reasons I left Christianity. The very notion that someone else should be punished/tortured/killed because of something I did wrong is so completely horrific to me. In fact, as a writer, it is a device I use when I wish to make my villain truly evil. The more innocent or removed from the crime the victim is the worse it is.

    So to say that an innocent child died in that movie theater because god was pi.ss.ed off at: a) gay marriage, b) lack of school prayer, c) abortion, d) any other reason, is heinous and makes your god the villain of the piece.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  17. Go Liath

    This has nothing to do with God or faith or anything similar. This is about a person who made a bad decision and is responsible for his actions.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  18. Grace

    http://sotheworldwillknow.blogspot.com/

    July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  19. LookingForAnswers

    There will always be questions in light of tragedies like this one. God is also in pain over this as we are in pain over this. The problem is a lot of people are trying to reconcile between a God who is Sovereign, all powerful and can prevent something like this and a God of Love who should be motivated to do something. Yes God is Sovereign but it also means (which may be a surprise to many) He takes some sort of ownership and responsibility for allowing evil. Yet He is Perfect Love and this where He will resolve all of this to Himself. The scripture is full of this tension but it also gives a beautify summation of why God does allow and how he has reconciled these things. This motivated me to respond as I did in my first blog: http://whoislife.blogspot.com/2012/07/part1-response-to-tragedy-at-aurora-why.html. (part 2 is also accessible) I also welcome any comments.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  20. Ponder

    Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Yes there should be a better way of screening, but I have never seen a gun jump up on it's own an kill someone..... Stop blaming the guns and start asking yourself if you have done everything you can. By putting the right people in congress and the white house. Our government is in the gutter people and until we rise up and take back control ( for the people) it's only going to get worse.... We burry our head in the sand while it's raining and then complain that we are drowning....

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

      People kill people. But guns certainly provide a lot of opportunity for instant, large scale killing that does not require much expense, knowledge of explosives of physical strength. Its the convenience food of murder; quick, easy; cheap and available to all. Think about this before you scream in favour of gun ownership, how many murders in America would have taken place if these misfit, mentally unstable teenagers had to use knives or their own hands?

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

      Guns don't kill people, easy access to guns kill people. Any person who has a really bad day, been bullied, fired, threatened AND has the ability to get a gun will use it. This nutter has shot lots of people 'cause he could get guns, a lot of guns. There is no imaginary sky fairy, and his brain had a short circuit, that's it, thats all. If you don't have enough intelect to realize there is no higher power I feel for you.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:44 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.