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. misterjames

    idiots..christians shoudlnt be allowed to live..im quite serious..they are the dumbest of the dumb

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

      no. you're a dumb dumb. christian is cool. Christmas, you get a lot of gifts, and everything's on sales... what more can you ask for? you get days off from work too.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • arose4yu

      Mr. Holmes is that you?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  2. Kiel

    God doesn't exist, people. There is no scientific proof to state else wise. If he did and was so merciful like people lablel him then why did this occur?

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

      YES... he EXISTS... his name is The Fonz!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  3. charles darwin

    It simply amazes me that people continue to believe that a god that magically made heaven and earth with his supernatural powers continues time after time to let the horrors on earth continue. As a well known Dr. TV talk-show host put it "He is a loving god" Ya sure!
    Oh, I forgot that god saved some of the people that escaped at the movie theatre but decided to let others be wounded or shot and killed in a bloodbath for the glory of god..Give me a break!
    There is no scientific proof of god.
    You are wasting your life and money away in churches that prey on the weak and gullible.
    We are a product of the laws of physics in universe.
    Who created the universe? Well who created god?
    No god made the universe. The physics that controls the elements made us and everything else.
    I'm tired of hearing god did this and god did that.
    How about reading some science books for a change?

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

      I couldn't have said it better.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • varun

      This Holmes PhD student was reading a lot of science book isnt it? Neuroscience. And how to make bombs and booby trap a home. Get lost!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  4. Marc

    Is this such a divisive tragedy that we, meaning Christians and Atheists alike, can't all come together and mourn the loss? Does it really matter if God played a part in this or didn't? It still happened. If you want to pray for them, by all means please do, but don't downplay the grief of the faithless. Don't turn this into an attack on our way of life because you deem us somehow less human than you. If you believe your God will judge us, then leave the judgement to God. Stop speaking for your God. Something tells me your God wouldn't appreciate that.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  5. vince

    Who's stronger? Batman or Spiderman?

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

      Of course, spiderman! Batman doesn't have any superpower.

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

      superman is way better than Spiderman or Batman

      July 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Batman is the only one who ever beat Superman, except for Doomsday, who died during the battle. But then Superman came back to life and kicked a bunch of Superman clones' collective butt, so, maybe Superman is the best.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • vince

      @t3chn0ph0b3 how did batman beat superman? I mean, if you use kryptonite, that's cheating. I thought lex lurthor was able to beat superman as well???

      July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  6. Bhari

    Is this an appropriate lead story for a top "news" organization? Or, is religion (or lack there of) a private and personal choice?

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

      I wish it was personal and private, but the Jesus Freaks of the world will not let it be so. Everywhere you go there are churches screaming at you to repent and love god, TV is full of maniacal preachers drooling with religious fervor. Please tell me where I can find a similar situation with Atheists, hint, you can't. We Atheists shake our heads with sadness at the insanity of the God Squad who live such pathetic and fearful lives.
      TELL THEM TO SHUT THE HELL UP and we will all be better off.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  7. Religious people are so stupid


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

    The Lord allows people to do evil things, "according to the hardness of their hearts, so that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand against them and cry mightily against them at the last day." (Alma 14:11, in The Book of Mormon)

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

      You are truly one sick person, this sky fairy of yours sits back and enjoys seeing the agony of the families involved in this massacre. WHY so he can punish the evil doer on the day of judgement, I have never heard such a pile of horse manure in my life.
      What about, "god is our father and loves us all", or "believe in god and it will send its guardian angels to watch over us", how do those PROMISES jive with just letting some maniac slaughter innocent men women and children. People like you should be expelled from the human race because YOU ARE NOT HUMAN.
      You deserve your sky fairy but just wait until it allows another maniac to slaughter your family.
      You and your ilk make me PUKE.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Sarah Hill

      Keith, I would like to point out that he is not professing to be a Christian. If anything, he is professing to be Mormon. The Book of Mormon and The Holy Bible are two totally separate doctrines and separate beliefs.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  9. Steve

    Any of these people may be right. But the reality is we really don't know. As sad as it is, suffering has been part of human and animal life forever. We need to do everything we can to minimize it. Personally, I believe people are far too quick to say they have all the insight and answers.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  10. Melissa

    I'm not a religious person, however in response to this debate, hasn't it been all over the news that Holmes' rifle jammed in the middle of the shooting, and that dozens more people could have died if it hadn't? The nature of this question implies that if there were a God, this entire plan would have been averted, or prevented, somehow. I find that concept altogether completely ridiculous, but if you're looking for God's presence during the shooting, I'd say it was there.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • charles darwin

      I'd say it wasn't there or anywhere else.

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

    @myweightinwords Your blog says you're a pagan so who cares what you think about God? I don't. Flame away, witch, I won't read your reply.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  12. Vlad

    The time will come when Gods wrath will be spilled on sinners, and when it does, no man will escape punishment and the deepest tortures and agony that have not been seen since the beginning of creation. True justice WILL be served.

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

      You do know that people have been saying that for centuries and centuries. WHEN IS THIS he/she/it COMING!!? Geez!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  13. Bob

    "Where was God in Aurora?" That's like asking "Where was the Easter Bunny when I Stubbed my toe?" The easiest way to manipulate a group of people is convincing them they have a debilitating flaw ('sin') and then telling those people YOU have the cure ('God'). The question isn't "Where was God?" it's "What kind of societal and mental health issues led to this happening?" Nevermind the gun control issue. I'm sure the guy that sold him that assault rifle thought he just wanted to really blow the hell out of a deer.

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

    I am sure that God is wondering "How can we, as humans, let this kind of tragedy happen . . . ?"

    July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  15. miamishield

    Wow, what a stupid argument. What's next, are Unicorns real? Followed up by was that Bigfoot we saw?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  16. Sarah Conner

    God was with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy on a Disney cruise through Gotham City.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  17. Violet Weed

    it's interesting that cnn made this story a 'headliner' on their home page. More proof that they are members of the devil's minions. Get thee behind me satan, devils come out of the workers who write stories and maintain the cnn website.

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

    Here is a Christian Response to this tragedy: http://soulcaffeine.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/justice-or-grace/

    July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |

      Read my blog.... please....

      July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Read it. Not a response to the question at hand. Don't bother, everyone.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  19. Jloopy

    Without pain, suffering, and death how can we really appreciate our health, happiness and life itself. Many get caught up in the grind of every day life and forget what they do have. This is true whether you believe in a god or not.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  20. Sarah Hill

    As a practicing Christian and a believer that Christ dies for my sins, I will say this:
    God did not allow the shooting in Aurora, SATAN allowed the shooting. If you read the Holy Bible, it clearly says that the Devil is the ruler of the Earth. Because of Adam and Eve sinning after being tempted by the serpent (Satan), by eating the fruit off of the tree, it caused sin to come into the world, ultimately making the Devil the ruler. I believe that God is all powerful and I believe that God "allowed" the shooting because He uses things like that to teach us lessons so we can ultimately fall back into His will. IT SHOULD BE CLEAR THAT THE DEVIL MADE THE SHOOTING HAPPEN, NOT GOD OR JESUS CHRIST.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • charles darwin

      That sounds like a good defence "The devil made me do it"
      Who has the greater power, The devil or god?
      I'm sure the bible has an answer for that somewhere and some one will point it out.
      Sounds very juvenile to me.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • brian

      I guess thats why they say GOD is good ALL THE TIME. Because anything bad that happens, just blame it on MAN or the DEVIL!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Sarah Hill

      If you read the Bible, you would know that Satan temporarily rules the Earth. Darwin, can you not see that the Devil does bring sorrow? He wants to bring other people down with him! Misery likes company. Satan hates God because He is the ruler. Because Adam and Eve defied God, it brought sin into the world, making the Devil the ruler. So yes, blame it on the Devil. Because he is the one that is causing the pain, hurt, and turmoil.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:10 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.