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. Jodie

    I think that over thinking things makes things worse. Everyone needs an explanation for why this happened, sometimes there are no explanations. People are evil. People have been killing people since the begining of time, and that will never end. This has nothing to do with God or the devil it has to do with people just being people and making horribly bad choices. Sometimes the simplest answer is the correct one. Focus on the families and victims of this tragedy and stop over analyzing it.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  2. DougP

    There is no god as far as I'm concerned...

    If – and that's a big if – there is a god, why do we as a human race worship so many different gods? And who is right and who is wrong about their choice of god?

    If you don't count your religion, there are hundreds – maybe thousands – of other religions practiced on our little planet (and some think that their particular brand of religion is better than or more correct than yours hence killing in the name of "God").

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

      "as far as I'm concerned" - problem is you are insignificant and of NO importance whatsoever.

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

      I have confidence in my lack of understanding of the universe. It would appear you do too, Doug.

      How somebody can accept the Bible or any other religious text as the answer to the universe is spitting directly in the face of any actual creator of our universe if there is one.

      Humans cannot comprehend past our dimension, we have seen less than one percent of infinity of the universe yet we have all the answers because it was written in a book 2,000 years ago before modern science even existed.

      Yea, if that's not selling yourself, the universe and EVERYTHING in it short then I do not know what is.

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

      @varun – kind of like your God delusion

      July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  3. Josh

    God was there!! There were people saved by the courageous acts of others. Also there was a women who had a bullet go into her head and because of a birth defect she survived! A birth defect she didnt even know about. Some might call it luck but I call it "Gods Work". God allows man to have free will and do what they want. Sometimes its for his glory, sometimes it doesn't. All we can do is pray for them and accept the fact that god will always be there when we need him. The most important thing we can do is praise him in the good times and not just when we need him! How many times have things not happen because a police officer thwarted the plan or a government agent spoiled there plans? We never say thank you God for helping them stop that from happening. But when something bad happens we automatically ask why god didn't stop it!! I am proud to be a christian and will continue to pray for this great nation to wake up and remember who we serve......GOD!!

    God bless everyone!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  4. Mike

    Whose God? Yours? Mine?

    There are hundreds of religions and hundreds of deities. Not a single one of them has any shred of evidence of their deity's existence.

    There is not a single moment in history where something has happened that has been attributed to any "God" legitimately.

    Get past religion. It will only bring about death and destruction.

    And to preface those who have zero faith in humanity but absolute faith in sky fairies; lack of religion is not the answer to progressing our race either. The answer lies in the golden rule. The answer lies in working together, having compassion, empathy and sympathy for our fellow humans.

    All of that can be done without religion.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  5. Mark

    God is Santa Claus for adults. There is NO evidence for the existence of any deity. "He" doesn't allow anything. Grow up.

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

      Let's see if you still think that way when your on your death bed/time comes.

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

      You are correct but a lot of adults can't deal with life without their Santa. They have childish minds and cling to it.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Lance

      The existence of God is irrefutable. How can anything come out nothing like the evolutionist would like us to believe. This defies all common sense.Tthe beauty and strructure of this world and the universe is the proof of the divine will and intelligence behind it. To say it happened by chance is like saying someone could jumble all the parts of a Rolls Royce in a big enough bag and shake it up and in million years you'll have a perfectly ruuning RR.. God masde us originality in His imageand likeness(Gen.ch.1) God has given us freewill to us just He has freewill.Man can choose to believe in God(Jesus Christ) and serve Hi m or we can continue yield to that fallen angel lucifer and remain in his captivity. That man in Aurora Colo. gave himself over to evil; and now we see the results.. He could have made a different choice.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Read to Understand

      It's a shame that as I read through some of these responses, it shows that a SMALL percentage has NEVER picked up a Bible....let alone read it. We do so many evil things in the USA an perpetuate soooo much evil and you wonder why it rubs off on a few individuals that do EVIL things. The TV, music, movies. video games glorifies all of this horrible stuff and adults and kids suck it up like a sponge and glorify it....What do you expect?? God gives us free will to choose right and wrong. He will forgives for our sins, but he doesn't stop the CONSEQUENCES of the sin. So, that's when the Just and Unjust will be affected.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • dwassllir

      @Lance – I don't even know where to start with you so I will say pick up a SCIENCE book and you can find a start to your question there.
      @mark – Really? Fear and guilt? That is so what you people base your existence on and your beliefs.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • dwassllir

      @Read to Understand – the Bible? You mean the book that was written by several authors 100+ years after Jesus supposedly walked the Earth and who happens to share the EXACT same story as Horus who proceeded him 10,000 years earlier? My guess is that these people realize that the Bible is full of BS used to control early slave uprisings in Rome under the rule of Constantine. That is where your religion and sacred book come from... did you know that or are would you still like to hide in your dark corner of lies until I leave this chat board?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  6. Doug

    God put us on this earth so we learn how to love and care for each other...... how we choose to use our free will...good or bad..
    He meant for us to suffer hardship and joy.......if the world were a perfect place to exist... there would be no need for heaven....

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

      That's convenient..

      July 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • P

      So why did he start with dinosaurs before us? Was that "practice"? Face reality. There is NO GOD that controls anything. Life is random and you are taught right and wrong by your parents. Religion is the MAIN cause of ALL wars and battles throughout time. There are people who are just sick and have mental issues in this world. Every species has "defects". JH was one of those and the poor people who died were a random result of that. Religious people ALWAYS blame the devil or man's "free will" to explain why GOD didn't intervene. He didn't intervene because HE isn't real.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  7. asdf

    Lenny up there has a terrible account of US history.

    Since God was only added to our money and pledge in the 50s, our rates of mass-homicide have only gone UP since then.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  8. Sushispike

    My belief's only, keep an open mind.
    Our lives are pre – determined and God gives us free will. We choose which way to turn wrong or right. I for one, learned everything the hard way. Any time I thought God wasn't there for me it was actually I who had turned away from Him. Now I have a God of my own understanding and He is not nessesarily in any "Book" or manmade religion. Rather He is Spiritual in nature and as such did not have anything to do with the insanity that happened in Colorado. That was (allegedly) premeditated by one very evil human being...who took many wrong turns to get to that point. God Bless all those who were there and their loved ones.

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

      "Now I have a God of my own understanding"

      I see what you did there.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • dwassllir

      If you life is pre-determined like you say it is, then why look both ways when you cross a street or pull your car out into traffic?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  9. Hayley

    God was there in the four men that gave their life for their girlfriends, in the man from the next theater that pulled two young girls in and held the door shut while the gunman tried to get in, in the cops and emergency personnel that got to the scene in 90 seconds. He was there in the 13 year old girl who performed CPR on her 6 year old friend. He was there.

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

    I don't understand the question. I thought that bible told us that God is all knowing and all seeing. He is the controller of all of our actions. He called all of those innocent people to havens because he got it like that... He demonstrated "free will" when parted the red sea, Caused the plagues in the "good" book and set Sampson up to slay a big ole bunch of philistines. Heck, he even told the pilgrims that is was okay to steal human beings from their homes and families and enslaved them for personal benefit...Of course he was there. He always is... I don't what in heaven he was doing or why he sit back and allows his creations to destroy themselves a everything around them... completely deplete their environment.
    Come on, we talking about the big Guy that could see what priest were doing to children in his own "houses and did nothing... for centuries!!!!!!!!

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

    I think in times of great tragedy, people are reminded of how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away. I believe that God does exist and looks down with sadness on those who chose to use his given agency to destroy that which he created. There have been times where he has intervened and others where he hasn't. Does that disprove he exists. If parents always intervene, will their children learn to make their own choices? That needs to be considered. I also am in the belief, that whether or not a society is religious, there are principles and morals that need to be taught for a society to prosper and sustain itself. I do agree that younger generations are lacking the respect, tolerance, and charity that is much needed today in our society. Where do most of these morals get taught?...at home? churches? schools? media?...I think it only common sense that if one generation fails to learn the fundamental principles that our country was founded on, then the probability increases for future generations to do the same. That leaves the society in a world of turmoil.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  12. AMusingPilgrim

    I just lost my Dad suddenly. I could not see where God was through all the darkness. Then, I noticed that God was in the kindness of strangers, a comforting hug, a compassionate touch or what was alive after death. God appeared different to me – not as vengeful but in the details of life moving on. God was there, I just perceived the Divine through suffering in a different way. I hope God\'s healing touch to all the families and friends of the victims and that they keep their eyes out now for those gestures of Light and not the Darkness of death and suffering. Without darkness, light would not exist. God Speed. Shaun in Adams, MA

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

      Sounds like to me, God was just people being kind. That isn't divinity, that's just good people. Sorry for your loss but give people credit where credit is due.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  13. kaal

    Where was (the anthropomorphic) God? Anthropomorphic God is humanity's invention. We try to overlay limited human properties, traits, characteristics, concerns on what we "point to" as a Supreme Being. If there is God, all things are in God but God (incomprehensible) supersedes all things. What we repeatedly witness throughout history is the failure of Human Beings to cooperate with other Human Beings, in this case the failure was on the part of a single broken one (as opposed to Hitler's Germany for example). When we cooperate in societies we -can- have the Rule of Law and orderly social existence ... and we can pay attention to the evidence of "outliers" and the dangers they may pose to other members of the social group. There will always be uncooperative outliers of varying types, and broken people inhabit an extreme outside what we consider the norms of cooperative, law-abiding social behavior. It is unfortunate but it will always be so ... an example of the distribution of random phenomena. As human beings, work on getting along with other human beings may be more important than talk of What's God Got To Do With It. Some tend to think of God as All Good, All Peace, etc. ... but all things are in God and God is all things. Some seem to think that Anthropomorphic God would 'care' if they believe in God or not ... absurd ... if there is God, a Supreme Being, then we are all trivial to That which encompasses the infinite Cosmos and all beyond it, eh?;-) If there is God, then God is infinitely everywhere. So ... what about Evil? Evil, irrationality (incl. insanity) and chaos will always be a part of reality. If God is All, then it may be that God is neither good nor evil. We try to define God but we can neither define nor understand what we are incapable of comprehending, e.g., infinite. Human comprehension requires bounds, limits on what it attempts to comprehend. God would be unbounded, unlimited. We must look to the humans in the story to understand what happened. This guy was broken. Perhaps schizophrenia/psychosis was beginning to manifest itself.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  14. Tom

    There aren't any gods, capitalized or otherwise. You might as well have asked "Where was Harry Potter/Spiderman/Zeus in Aurora massacre?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  15. miamishield

    Maybe god was watching the premiere of Dark Knight Rises and just missed the whole thing. They're drinking buddies you know..

    July 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  16. Mark

    Compare any suffering on Earth against eternity.

    Suppose a person were to live forever, and broke their leg today. Here's how they might view that in the future:T

    Today: OW! How will I ever get through this?
    One week: This sucks. Gotta love those Vicodin.
    One month: It's healing. I'm going to get the cast off soon. Woo-hoo!
    One year: That sucked, but at least it's over.
    Ten years: Yeah, I remeber I broke my leg. Don't want to do THAT again!
    One hundred years: Was it an ankle or a leg? Which ankle? Or leg?
    One thousand years: I broke a leg? Was that five hundred or six hundred years ago?

    Suffering is what strengthens the spirit. God views things from the perspective of eternity. Any suffering that can occour in a person's lifetime is nothing compared to the infinite number of millenia that make up eternity. That doesn't make it any better when a person is going through it, but it does explain why God allows it.

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

      "God views things from the perspective of eternity"

      If there is a god, how could you POSSIBLY know how he perceives anything, let alone time?

      This is why I hate religious people. They act like they have a clue and it simply could not be further from the truth.

      It's not hard, people. Simply admit you do not know. Because you don't. You can't. It's nice to read the Bible in context and take it for what it's worth – very selectively – for the few good lessons in it. But this level of arrogance and ignorance is offensive.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm |

    Life is a test. God gives us choices to make. He knows exactly what we all are going to do and not do. Just because these people died doesnt mean God was punishing them or not. We all have the power to do evil if we choose to. All of us can do what this evil guy did. We choose not to. There are many things in life that God is testing us on. Not just if we kill but many other things. Not just what bad we dont do BUT what good we do. These people died horribly but they will be judged according to how they lived while they were alive. Its God's decision because its his world. And until we all realize that this entire world including us are HIS we will never reach peace because we dont think of God all the time like we should.

    There is only ONE religion that REQUIRES us to think of God all the time everyday. And that is Islam. This is not to say there are not evil Muslims; because we all know there are BUT Islam is the only religion that has answers to all these questions and goes into detail about the day of judgement and the hereafter. Neither Christianity nor Judaism even comes close to answering these questions.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Your Christian god is a pathetic powerless monkey

      Christians insist that only through Jesus will one reach heaven. Don't believe in him and you're going to hell.

      The VAST MAJORITY of everyone – both living and dead – did not/do not believe in Jesus. The VAST MAJORITY of souls created by your Christian god are going to hell BY DEFINITION.

      In other words – in the war of souls between your god & Satan – SATAN WINS.

      Your god loses.

      Poor thing. All so pathetic and powerless.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • 1liner

      To your Christain God- read Revelation-the devil- satan loses

      July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  18. Ben

    Where was Batman??!

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

    If there WAS a God, he'd have to be drunk, senile or insane, and perhaps all three. But there isn't one.

    Why be born again when you can just grow up instead?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  20. Kat

    Since dog is god backwards then I think god was made from dog. I can see it now. the child sitting on his dads lap 6000 years ago and the child asks, why. The dad not knowing how to respond says the dog oh umm i mean god did it. you still see that today in the dog ate my homework scenario.

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

      This makes absolutely no sense........

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

      Sure it makes sense. So the story gets written. Evolves. Changes. People start quoting and using the very simple concept of the word turnaround. They start writing stories for their kids which grow and grow because of the basic simplistic concept that people can understand. It all began with a simple word.

      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.