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. eric

    if god was any where near Aurora that nite everyone should leave a faith that codones a all powerful deity that allowed a 6 year old to be shoot in public.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  2. Dor

    IF there is a god, he knew in advance of each and every person in this tragedy that these events would unfold and their life would end at that particular second. He created the killer knowing in advance what he was going to do.
    Why would any of you believers put your faith in such a being? This is just one event of so many that happen each and every day in the world.
    There is probably no god, so stop worrying and enjoy the rest of your day.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  3. Joseph

    Life is not about us, is about HIM.
    It doesn't matter if God fails us or not.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  4. Pope on a Rope

    He was busy taking a dump. Everyone has to go sometime.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  5. Jodie

    I think that over thinking things makes things worse. We will never know why he did what he did. God nor the devil has anything to do with this. People are evil. People have been killing people since the begining of time, the difference now, social networking. We all need an explanation for everything, sometimes things just can't be explained no matter how much you try. Focus on recovery for the people who lived this tragedy.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  6. austin

    Man wants to make sense of certain events,and give meaning to his life so he creates religion. Religion-especially Christianity- is a logically paradoxical/fallacious, philosophically pitiful attempt at explaining metaphysical phenomena..Rather than making up stories like children to explain events outside of our spiritual/intellectual capacity to understand, why can't we collectively take the mature adult stance and just say "WE DONT KNOW" . It saddens me and is disheartining for 21 year old like myself to see mmy "elders" engage each other intellectually on such an immature remedial level..

    July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  7. Buddy

    He was busy giving babies cancer

    July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Bulldog3071

      Nice, I like that. God had more evil things to do.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  8. truthfulgiant

    "Liberals have made it impossible for God to be anywhere " Don't confuse liberals with atheists. I am a liberal, but a believer.

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

      LOL, Satan can not stop god, but the liberal party can? Well lets vote for them they must be more powerful then god

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

      Yeah, I love it how 'liberals' are apparently stronger than god. What did they do, salt the doors and windows?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  9. CCD

    Suffering is allowed because it is a sure way to bring people back to God.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  10. Bulldog3071

    God does not exist as we will all someday findout

    July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  11. ultramax

    What a bunch of tools.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  12. Demetrius

    I believe the answer that we are looking for has been answered. Free will allows things like this to happen. We conplained about God being in everything from the courthouse to our house and some have chosen not to be with him. God allows for us to see how we can manage without him and we have seen the results as of late. We've must see now that our ways are insufficient, but through Jesus, we have all that we will ever need. Even when we make a statement that there is no God, Jesus died on the cross for the remisson of our sins and yes, even when we claim that he doesn't exist, he loves us and gives us the grace to breathe his air another day. He is real and he wants to show us how real he is in our lives. The diversity of accounts in the bible to the evidence of his existence from antropologists and historians shows that he is REAL! He desires a relationship with us. Will you give your life to Jesus today?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  13. achepotler

    God never gives us more than we can handle...we should be thankful that he allows us the Divine grace to...ahahahaha!...JK...there is no God. (even the smart dude they wrote about in Psalm 14 knew that...there have been smart people since the Bronze Age.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  14. Robert

    Lenny had the best comment. All we do is tell God to go away, then wonder why he isn't there.

    I don't think it was God's plan for this to happen, but could it be God's will? Depends on how you define it. Could He have stopped it? Certainly. He could've have the door close and lock behind the guy and he wouldn't have been able to get back in, could have had all his guns jam, locked his keys in his car, etc. Lots of things could have happened to prevent it. (Imagine if that had happened and he had to walk back into his own exploding apartment.) But God didn't. He let it happen. He allows man to have free will, what we do with it is up to us, even if we are in the wrong. So does allowing it to happen mean it was God's will? Maybe. That's philosophically above my head.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  15. Bo Darville

    He was on Key Largo getting his dive tanks filled for lobster mini-season. Seriously, there is no almighty fairy in the clouds looking over us. This is just one small proof out of many that there is no gaawd. An imaginary friend may help one emotionally, but not in reality.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  16. Carl

    Yes, all this happened because a rib-woman took an apple from a talking serpent and made us all bad. Seriously? It is ok to believe that silly story of sin as a child but you people are grown adults. Do you really believe a mythical, cloud-dwelling deity helps Tebo get a touchdown and sits idle by while someone murders people? Where was God in Aurora massacre? You could have just as easily asked "where were the unicorns in the Aurora massacre?" and "where was Thor in the Aurora massacre?" We stopped worshiping the sun and golden idols – can we give up on the rest of our imaginary friends too?

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

    So many people here are saying stop blaming God, and It's not Gods fault. But when something great happens why do you credit God for the great things?

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

      Yes, please, could some religious people please answer this?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  18. 2 cents

    Just my 2 cents, agree or disagree as you like. As a polytheist, we don't believe that the gods are omnicognisant and omnipotent. People have free will that cannot be controlled by the Divine. So, a person did this, and other peoples are greatly suffering because of this person's actions. However, Divine Beings (gods, spirits, ancestors, etc) could have saved some people (a bullet missing, or someone somehow missed the show because of a reason that seemed like an inconvenience at the time). But, in the end, we as people are responisble for our actions, and how we respond to tragedy.

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

      This is some B.S. Your logic is mystifying. The gods and ancestors can know certain things (but not everything) ahead of time, but don't bother to tell one another "Hey, I think your great great great great great great great grandson might be in danger, might wanna go take a bullet for him, or make him get stoned and forget his money so he doesn't go to the theater." Would they get on the celestial phone to talk about this jazz?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  19. Dave

    We do not believe that God is able to be God and is Omnipresent and has all power, since we do not believe that we limit what God can do for us, God can easily protect us from all danger, but when we run toward the danger rather than toward him we invite it. No one was made to go the see a movie at Midnight about a bunch of make believe stuff and tricks which are not real, so in essence all who went were chasing Black Magic which is evil. What reason is there to take a child to see this stuff. A things created belong to God including us and if God allows something to happen he has a plan for good although it seems to be an evil act. Look how all those people joined together and prayed and had compassion after the event, look at how many people thought of others instead of their own safety. If we used all this collective positive energy(LOVE) for good at all times, not just when there is a tradgedy a lot of these things would be prevented. Another way of saying this is if we loved our neighbors instead of fearing our neighbors then all of the energy would be beneficial to all. Greed and selfishness makes us think that we will only get ours if we make sure others are not in line ahead of us.

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

    Only followers of semitic religions have problem with this - because they do not believe in re-birth and karma. As soon as you introduce these two concepts into picture along with the eternal indestructible soul (something semitic religions do believe in), everything makes sense. Read Bhagavad Gita and everything would be clear:


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


      July 25, 2012 at 2:47 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.