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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. Jason

    It's simple, God is not in control of everything nor is everything the will of God. Think about it, if everything was the will of God, then a person like this could hurt someone and there should be no consequence, because God wanted it that way anyway, or else it wouldn't have happened. After all, if God controls everything, then there is no wrong because it was all God's will to begin with...correct? That doesn't make sense does it? So the answer is, we have free will and ultimately our Earth is wicked, which means "hurtful" in the Greek, and we continue passing that hurt on to our children and then they develop their own insecurities on top of what we pass on to them, and people get sicker and more hurtful in the process. It isn't rocket science.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      There is so much of the "God's Will" talk going around... I'm just going to paste my question in here:

      Let's assume there is a God and he does have a will. If man has free will he can do whatever he wants without intervention from God, right? What if man's will conflicts with Gods? 1) Does God step aside and change his will depending on what man does? 2) Or does God overpower man's will? If the answer is 1 than God is not in control – man is. If the answer is 2 than man does not have free will.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  2. justin

    God doesn't exist. Wake up people. We have science to explain things, we don't need fairytales.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Michael

      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 2:47 pm |
    • Sarah Hill

      Go Michael! I'm so happy that I am not the only one defending my God and my Savior!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      @Michael – Let's look at a hypothetical situation:

      1) What if the Bible started out as stories and rules for people to follow and about how death isn't the end and leads to everlasting life with a creator – God. 2) What if all the stories were about how great and perfect and good God is, but everyone started to notice that bad things were happening – even to those who were following all the rules. 3) What if the people who were writing the Bible realized that they needed to address this so they created stories about how this may not make sense now, but it will one day. After all the Bible was written over a very long period of time and there have been many additions and edits. The Codex Sinaiticus is the oldest bible ever found and it has thousands of variations – in fact it doesn't even mention the resurrection of Christ. Just something to think about – or not. Do what you will.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  3. Just call me Lucifer

    Lets see... I can kill innocent children, set daycare centers ablaze, and launch nuclear weapons that will cook millions
    of humans to death, and all I have to do is ask christ for forgiveness and I'm in gods disneyland for all eternity.
    Sweet. I feel born again.

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

    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." If I may quote Jesse R. This is EXACTLY where we as a people, as a nation are at. Time to grow up America.

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

      Right. And the world was better when "conservatives" were burning witches, trading slaves, oppressing women, wiping out native American tribes and forcing everybody to be brainwashed by their filthy religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • justin

      If God existed, which he didn't, what the hell control over him could "Liberals" have? You think the guy is all-powerful or something, but someone complaining about him being in a pre-school poem can "erase" him? I hate tell you buddy, but god is just a real and provable and santa clause and the easter bunny.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • ME II

      "Liberals have made it impossible for God to be anywhere during the upbringing of a child. "
      What happened to the home and church?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • matt in nw

      yeah cause christianity and god have done soo much for us..... the god of the desert is the most destructive force on the planet...his agents have visited nothing but misery on non believers – and themselves....

      July 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Dan

      @ME II : I'm reporting you for abuse because you've used too much logic. Please stick with stupidity when dealing with stupid.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • David

      Liberals didnt make anything impossible. Children go to school to learn not to learn a faith. If you want your children to learn a faith at school take them to a catholic school or christian school or jewish school or whatever you like. When my tax dollars are paying for your chilrden going to school, I don't want my tax dollars paying to teach them about god, because frankly that's your responsibility to do in your own home.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  5. Locrian

    Excluding "Revelations", your god killed over 33 million of his own creation in one contradicting and silly work of fiction– the bible. Those who are blaming Satan, well, he only killed 10 people in that book and only with god's permission (Job). This Satan-guy doesn't sound all that bad but he and god have the same problem– neither of them exist.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  6. Verbatim

    There is no life after death. Simple as that.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  7. CGKaneohe

    God's will is for man to choose for himself, yet man must make a choice freely. That means some choose evil, some choose good, but God didn't *make* them choose either way. The natural consequences of choosing evil is misery and suffering, choosing good results in peace of mind and the betterment of man in general. Those who want to choose evil yet insist on getting good results might as well try to fight gravity.

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

      Let's assume there is a God and he does have a will. If man has free will he can do whatever he wants without intervention from God, right? What if man's will conflicts with Gods? 1) Does God step aside and change his will depending on what man does? 2) Or does God overpower man's will? If the answer is 1 than God is not in control – man is. If the answer is 2 than man does not have free will.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  8. Ray

    I believe that after Adam and Eve disobeyed His commandment, He punishes future generations by allowing chaos to prevail.
    We no longer live in the Garden of Eden and can expect bad things to happen.

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

      In Christianity God is perfectly benevolent – meaning that he is all good and just and can do no evil. How is it perfectly good and just to punish every single human being for mistakes made by the first? If your great-great grandfather murdered someone, should you spend your life in prison for it? Does that really sound like justice to you?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  9. Dennis

    God was busy attending a NRA meeting

    July 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  10. Brian

    This has been one of the key questions in regards to the existence of God. Free will is, generally, the best answer. He gave us free will and let's us exercise it – even if it creates a Hitler. To say that God is spiteful and ignores us because we don't 'give him is due' certainly lessens the concept of what God is supposed to be. If that is your God, then I agree with others who wonder as to his beneficence and all-loving nature. That concept of God strikes me as being akin to pagan gods who demand sacrifices so that the volcano won't erupt, or crops will be good, or anything else in the past that humans couldn't understand and explained it with the concept of an 'angry' higher being. If that is your God and that is the God that people want to bring into our schools – the one who hates gays and blacks and divides us and spawns hate, then I definitely want that God as far away from our public schools and discourse as possible. Frankly, that 'God' sounds a lot like the 'Allah' of hard core Islamists who use their views of hate and division to create terror. I don't remember hate and divisiveness of people being a part of the teachings of Christ.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  11. Rob Nolan

    The reason there is evil in the world is because without evil there would be no good. With nothing to contrast against it good has no value. Ever wake up in the middle of the night really thirsty? A nice cold glass of water sure quenches that thirst, but you would never experience that joy without first being thirsty. Get it?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  12. Bulldog3071

    when I get Heaven I'm going to punch God int he face for all the evil he has commited.

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

      LOL

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

      Exactly. This human-made deity is certainly amoral, so I have to reject his egotistical buttocks.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Bill Jones

      Punch him twice, he deserves it!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Sarah Hill

      In order to get to Heaven, you must believe that Jesus Christ dies for your sins and accept Him as your Lord and Savior. Now if you truly are a Christian, why would you want to "punch God in the face." If you really are a Christian, then why would you want to hurt the one that you call your Father? The Devil is why there is heartache and hurt in this world, because he is the ruler of the Earth, because we let him when sin came into the world. Many people have shunned Jesus Christ because they believe that He causes the hurt, but NO, that is what Satan wants us to believe because he was jealous of God and his almighty power. Read the Bible and you might get some answers, but that is if you take the time. And in case you couldn't tell, YES, I AM A BELIEVER IN JESUS CHRIST!

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

      @Sarah: You say that Satan is responsible for all evil. Who created Satan? God made the angel Lucifer right? I'm sure that you would say that Lucifer fell from heaven and became Satan by his own will, right? So are you saying that God had no idea this was going to happen? If God is all-knowing than he knew that Lucifer would become Satan and cause all evil to befall the Earth. If God is all-knowing and the creator of all, than there is no way around it – God created evil.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  13. Dan

    God was with his buddies: Zeus, Ahura-Mazda, Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Smart-Sarah Palin and Super-Genius Michelle Bachmann.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  14. Clarke

    God jammed the rifle that saved the person he had a particular plan for. He stopped the tennant from opening the apartment door to Holmes' booby-trapped apartment, and she lived.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  15. WachetAuf

    From where is sit, God, assuming he is the creator of all this, created the earth, gave us an operation manual, then sat back allowing us to govern ourselves. From time to time one of his more inspired prophets has come to remind us about the operations manual, making adjustments as might make it more simple for our primitive souls to understand and comply. Yet, we are, by nature, fundamentally very primitive animals who struggle for survival, following Darwinian principle. The primitive impulses we inherited from our ancestors still haunt us. Few of us are so evolved that we can escape it. Primitive instinct moves us, not rational objective reason. Most of us still refuse to believe God's message that we must be born again to a higher nature. The greatest threat to our continued evolution toward that higher nature is religion itself. Religion, including Christianity for two thousand years, has been co-opted by politicians and is inextricably bound to banal politics. I am guessing that our evolution has ended and that we are sliding back into the jungle from where we came. Primitive impulse, fear, greed and power are our inheritance from our ancestors and will be our lasting legacy to those who follow us. We cannot envision the end game. God, if he exists, does. He is just waiting to pick up the pieces.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  16. joe prov

    For the same reason the advanced space aliens have decided to take a hands off approach to earth – Sure they could give us fantastic and futuristic technologies that could end all suffering just as God could have created a universe without suffering – it’s not that they want to see if left alone that we would get our act together and stuff its more simple than that it’s because THEY DON’T EXIST!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  17. Bob

    God was busy playing golf with Obama.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  18. @lamarcac

    lolol and jg; its obvious neither of you know anything about history. You both fail.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  19. Bill Jones

    In the beginning Man created God in his own image to be used for the purpose of controlling the masses and gathering great wealth from the ignorant fools that believe in fairy tales.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  20. Carl

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?

    Epicurus

    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.