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. coachw44

    Matthew 10:28, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul (psuche). But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul (psuche) and body in hell."

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

      Impressing us with Greek words will not work here in the CNN belief blog

      July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • matt in nw

      yet another reference to the Big Reward..... proof of this yes? ... can feel Bible reference inc... should be good:)

      July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  2. Robert Austin

    OK here is the deal. There is no god that controls human events. We are responsible for ourselves and for those who cannot care for themselves. Unfortunately someone goes bonkers now and then and mass killings occur. As long as the weapons are readily available this will occur again and again. Stringent monitoring of who buys weapons and ammunition may have tipped authorities before this guy acted on his plan. Unfortunately that kind of monitoring is not going to happen while we live in a society that is shaped by ignorance and greed.

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

    God made man...man made evil.

    End of discussion.

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

      God made woman too. just so you know

      July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  4. GAW

    When an incident like this happens life in the media becomes like a broken record. The same questions are asked over and over again...Why did this happen? Did God allow it? How can it be prevented? Are there too many guns? Come mid August we will no longer be asking these questions until an event like this happens again. In a manner of speaking it becomes a morbid form of entertainment for us as Americans. Somehow we need it sad to say.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  5. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Remember, folks, it was only last week that George Zimmerman stated he had carried out "God's Will." People have been justifying violence in God's name since the story of Abraham. At the same time, whenever there is an action like this, or a natural disaster, they ask "Where was God to prevent this?" Guess what? The Jamestown and Plimouth settlers asked the same thing that first winter when each colony lost a significant number of their members. In almost every case, the Bible Thumpers will claim that it is because we have not followed "God's Will, " but have allowed the "devil" to turn us toward earthly pursuits.

    We need to get out of our heads that God has marked any of us for a special destiny and that God will not let bad things happen as a result. We need to understand that there are natural forces (created by God?) that are greater than our man-made protections (like levees and sea walls). We need to understand that there are sick individuals with no moral compunction against taking someone else' life, and can usually justify it by claiming they are carrying out God's Will.

    What happened in Aurora was a tragedy. Just like what happened in Littleton, in Oklahoma City, in New York City and Washington, DC. These events did not mean that God was not with us. If anything, and if human emotions can be subscribed to God, then God shed a tear at each of these events. If, as some claim, a little bit of God is in each of us, then our tears that we shed are God's tears; our sorrow is God's sorrow.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Robert Austin

      Well said Joe (not lieberman).

      July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  6. Muzak

    God is currently dealing with another civilization on another planet in the Universe right now. Your patience is important to us. Please stand by.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  7. tonythecroat

    Man was made in his image. If GOD was a women it wouldn't make a difference. I think most people that beleive in God would say the same thing. I could only imagine the spirit or ghost not having a true gender it doesn't seem like it would be important.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  8. Bob

    He must have joined the fool NRA

    July 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  9. Chris

    Personally I don't hold any beliefs in any deities. I fail to see why we demand proof for all things everywhere with the exception of a god or gods. When looked at critically and without the biased views of our upbringing, it's hard to see how anyone could hold a belief that a god exists. The evidence simply is not there.

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

      If everything could be explained....what's left to believe in? True faith does not need evidence! Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29

      July 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  10. mel

    this is one reason. 1 John 5:19"We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the [power of the] wicked one"
    Revelation 12:9
    "So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him"

    July 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Robert Austin

      Quoting from a volume of legends, myths, lies and propaganda proves nothing.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  11. BJ

    Why does everyone blame GOD for everything bad and good in the world . This is defintely a tragedy and many like this occur all over the world and will continue to until we stand up as a human race and work collectively as one. We are all connected. God lets freewill exist and it is up to us to determine fate and destiny. We as humanity are to be blamed for all negative occurences in the universe. If u want to change the universe then obey the laws of the universe and things will get better in this world. GOD is not too blame we are. GOD taught us the way through his books and i am not saying the BIble or other religious books . I am talking about spirtuality. People need to be more spirtual.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • matt in nw

      Omnipotent God, Creator, Big Plan.... :))

      July 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Jo Hargis

      Exactly. And I couldn't help but notice, some of the people who did not get shot but made it out ok would say things like "God was watching over me". I don't want to disparage their faith, and certainly don't intend this as such, but really......so, God was NOT watching over the others? A six year old girl? So, it's really God's will that all those fabulous people are "in a better place" now? Bet their families don't think that. So all the rest are just better people and therefore they were spared? Give me a break. Bad stuff happens every single day to good people as well as bad people; why can't people just recognize the randomness of life and society and stop trying to find a reason to insert God into every minute facet of their lives? The arrogance of someone thinking they were spared "by God" is stunning.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  12. Jessica

    Thousands of innocents die in bombings and mass murders across the world on a regular basis, but today, Americans wonder "why didn't God stop the Aurora shooter?" Why doesn't God stop famine? War? Terrorism? People need to stop blaming US politics for horrible, but relatively minor compared to events in other countries, tragedies and realize that things are much worse elsewhere. The idea that God would punish movie-goers because of political policies is downright ridiculous.

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

      The best comment thus far! America acts like it can't be touched - that only foreign countries can. Tragedy can happen ANYWHERE... and last I checked... God was everywhere.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  13. Hu Phart Ngau

    I couldn't think of a more asinine way to spark a debate that this one...

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


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

    For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.


    na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
    nāyaḿ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
    ajo nityaḥ śāśvato 'yaḿ purāṇo
    na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre

    July 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  15. patches

    I love how people keep saying the Founding Fathers wanted religion in government. Please do some research before you start talking nonsense that is purely irrational and is wholeheartedly incorrect.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Yeah. Look up Deism and the founding fathers. Keep in mind that at the time it was a code word for atheism.

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

      Thank you! I was starting to wonder if I was the ONLY one who paid attention in high school history class. I fear for the state of education, if this is how people are misunderstanding history.

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

      Its religion they were running from, both from their past and for our future. But, like you said, when they introduced God into the Pledge of Allegiance in 54; somehow that rewrites our history. Magic, I guess.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  16. Skeebo

    It is disturbing that CNN would post such a thoughtless and incendiary question in the wake of innocent lives lost – truly shameful and reprehensible and completely unfair to the victims and their families. What have we come to?

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

      I agree, its a very negative and loaded question. Its as if they are influencing people to blame God for what happened.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  17. TruthSeeker

    Simple. God wasn't there because he isn't there. No round about explanation, no apologies, no justifications.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  18. Verbatim

    Something created the universe.

    The only reason for our existence is creation (life.) Sometime in the very distant future we will understand it's purpose.When you die, you go back into the elements which created you in the first place.

    It's time to think out-of-the-box.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  19. Jen

    I believe that God was in Aurora. Many lost their lives but some were lost saving those they loved. God was in those selfless acts. God also was protecting many other lives in that theather.

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

      What did god have against the 12 killed and their families? Idiot. There is no god, certainly not the kind you think there is.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  20. Thade

    Isn't it strange how people will willingly blame God for when bad things happen, but wont give him any credit when good things happen? We ask "where was God in Aurora? Why did he let people die?" We forget that although there where twelve people killed, there where those who survived and are grateful to be alive. Obviously God was there in Aurora. If you say that those people are alive thanks to good luck, then blame bad luck on twelve people being killed.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Atheists find it funny when Christians give God all the credit when good things happen, but when bad stuff goes down it gets chalked up to human free will and Lucifer.

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

      You should consult an atheist right away. You sound unhealthy.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:55 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.