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. Bo Darville

    Well, George Zimmerman says Trayvon's getting shot and killed was "God's plan", so maybe this massacre was God's plan, too. This "God" is one heck of a crappy planner. It's time to go back to worshipping Zeus or the Sun or cows or whatever. The spiritual leaders of our lonely rock in space should create a new fairy tale centered around Tim Tebow being the lord and savior and clutch red-zone QB. Perhaps Rex Ryan in the role of Moses.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Yeah, let's ask Zimmerman since he knows God's plan so well.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  2. Twilley

    God's will and God's intervention with our world are beyond our comprehension. If God is God.. and he created everything around us... through the big bang or in 6 days.. whatever you believe.. how can we possibly comprehend his will.

    I sometimes think of this as being a child just after watching the Empire Strikes Back. At the end of the movie I was so confused as a child.... why did the good guys lose? Luke lost his arm, Vader is his dad, Solo is in carbonite, the rebel fleet is scattered, I mean it was absolutely devastating. As a 6 year old child I couldn't comprehend that their was another movie coming that brought it all together.

    Of course, I'm not trying to use a trivial movie analogy to explain God's will, but more or less to explain our understanding of God's will. We are the 6 year old kid that is just not capable of putting everything together.

    It is a tragedy that these people were victims to such a crime. My prayers go out to their families.

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

      Enjoy your post, I did. A lot of sense, you make....

      July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " If God is God.. and he created everything around us... through the big bang or in 6 days.. whatever you believe.. how can we possibly comprehend his will." Supposedly we are to consult the manual to find that out, but it's full of begats and bears eating children instead of reliable information. If the Bible had mentioned how to build a radio, or given the periodical table of elements, no one would be arguing with it today. "Don't eat pork" sounds a lot smarter once you know about trichinosis; more of that and less about angels would have been nice.

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

    CNN sinks to all time new level asking where God was during Aurora massacre...slow day in the news folks?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  4. Erika

    Nobody N Particular?
    It's called neuroscience that dillusioned his thoughts, and actons. He studied it, and became consumed by it. It's fictional scientific research.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  5. Tommy

    God created the BIG BANG and since then has been sitting back and watching the spectacle. Anybody who thinks that God likes to interfere in what goes on is really an idiot.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Like a big Pachinko game and he's waiting for all the balls to hit bottom before He tries again?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  6. BNS-GA

    Maybe god just wanted them all in heaven and he doesn't care how they get there. Cancer, Shootings, Stroke, War, Suicide, or eaten by a bear or a shark, He doesen't care as long as they join him. Or maybe he was asleep or on break.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  7. Mike

    My answer: Because none of this is THAT bad.

    I believe in the concept of God the Father. If God is the father, then we are the children.

    When you are a child, your concept of pain, tragedy, and inequity are skewed. How many times have we witnessed a child scream bloody murder in a Walmart because they weren't allowed to buy the new toy they wanted. At that moment, through that extremely limited and narrow optic, THAT is the worst possible thing that could ever happen to them. When we grow up, we gain slightly more perspective and understand that what seemed devastating was actually trivial.

    The same will be true as we mature in God's kingdom. Once we leave this world and all of its near sightedness, we will have the opportunity to realize that what seemed like a travesty worthy of questioning our creator for turned out to be no more important than a toy on the shelf at Walmart.

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

      Go tell that 6-year-old's mother that it wasn't such a bad thing for her daughter to be shot dead. Unless you are willing to tell her that, shut up.

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

      It's not that bad, in the biggest scope. I don't imagine she could comprehend it, but that only further proves my point. There is no consoling a child who isn't allowed to have a soda when he wants one. It is THE WORST thing in the world, and nobody will tell him otherwise. Same thing here with you apparently..

      July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Chris, as you see, he'd be glad to tell that mom it was all for the best. I'm going with the ever-popular "Mike has been possessed by a demonic force and must be beaten to drive away the devil" defense. Get help, Mike, you're a sick and callous man.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      What an insensitive, reationlizing tool you are.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  8. Wunderland

    "Evil – if you believe in it?"
    Is this writer serious? What force do you think drives people to commit such unspeakable acts of horror – gravity?
    It is beyond dispairing to see a national news media, biased as they are, give credence to such drivel by allowing it to be published. We are fast becoming a nation of Oprah clones – so vapid, shallow, and easily beguiled.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  9. Thomas Paine

    This is an idiotic and silly U.S.-centric question: 30 innocent children in Africa probably just died from famine, disease, or something else terrible in the time it took me to write this posting (probably more), and we're wondering where God was in the incredibly blessed U.S. when some nutjob shot these poor people? Evil, and bad things, happen all over the world daily, and sadly, in even far more horrific ways than the people in Aurora experienced. God is not a superhero, and he does not throw bolts of lightning to protect good people from bad people.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • ME II

      Harsh, but true.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  10. Chris

    There is no God... grow up people!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  11. David Kristiansen

    twitter : @idmskaved
    We all ask this question . The question is Why do we keep pushing God out society ?
    Romans 8:28
    And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

    I lost my sister to a car accident when she was 16 years old. i was 12. 4 teenagers were in the car that day all died. Of course I had a question of Why God Why? , But I am saved , I believe in God . Nothing , no evil will ever stop that. I know she is in a better place in Heaven. I have spoke in church and lives have been saved . we never know when your time is up . This is a horrible Evil thing that happened in Colorado. My prayers go out to the families.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • David Kristiansen

      twitter is @idmksaved

      July 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  12. YC

    Even for beleivers of all religions this is the mother of all questions, why that happened to good people? and why the food
    of most animals have to be other animals? and why from the time of man and woman creation wars and killing never stop?
    No one could give me an answer, yet.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  13. David

    Just like journalists (and Hollywood screenwriters) to miss the point of faith. Most people don't lose faith in tragedy, they lean on it. It's utterly juvenile to think that the presence of God can only be measured by a perfect existence. God gave man free will, including Holmes.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  14. Barbara

    It's not God's will that any man perish. But it is appointed to every man a time to die. If we have hope in this world only we are most miserable, but we who know Christ have hope in a new world where there is righteousness. If everyone would yield themselves to God and deny the pleasures of unrighteousness they would be able to make the good choices for themselves and others in their care. Because of men's sins they refuse to acknowledge God. We become a servant to whatever we yield to. If we yield to drugs and alcohol they become strong over our will. So don't be overcome of evil in thought or deed but overcome evil with good. The loss of life was horrendous! Satan is the one who comes to kill, steal, and destroy! Jesus accepts all who come to him for help out of a repentant heart, because ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. God Bless all the heroes that is what the world is still hungering for! Self denial and self sacrifice for the love of others <3

    July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  15. David Richardson

    Why does God allow evil to exist? The answer is found in the question: How can God create free will beings if there is not a choice? God is good and all that he does is good, but he has allowed evil to exist so that there is a choice to be made. If their was not a choice then we would not be free. Anything that is not the desire of God is evil since good is what pleases God and is align with his will. It is humankind and not God that makes the choice as what they will allow to exist in this world. Unfortunately their are many people that choose evil over good. So the world looks the way that it does. Jesus told us that the Devil comes to steal, kill and destroy so when these conditions exist the source is ultimately the enemy. He is called "The ruler of this world" and rightfully gets the credit for this mess. With freedom comes responsibility and because we choose who we follow we too are responsible for the condition of this world... Not God. Our choices affect many others that are impacted by our lives and can affect even those that have made good choices. Such is the state of this temporal world. There is nothing fair about it! Bad things do happen to good people, but ultimately God will prevails. The one choice no one can take away from us is our decision to follow Jesus Christ or not.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Can He make a rock so big He can't pick it up?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  16. Adam Armstrong

    "Why does God allow evil" is an ancient question and, in the face of such tragedy, people still ask it. It is as if they think that every facet of human life is micromanaged by God, that things are allowed or disallowed, that people are punished on earth, or that every calamity is part of a "plan". How people can think this in view of endless wars and tragedies throughout history and what they witness every day is astounding, but it gives them some kind of answer. We see good people suffer and evil seems to prosper. I believe in God as revealed in Jesus Christ. The God of Jesus is loving and compasionate and cares for each person. God is not the cause of these things and they are not God's will. In his earthly life, Jesus encountered many victims of violence, disease, and injustice. Yet he did not heal them all and he did not end these human troubles. Instead he showed us by his caring presence and example. By his death and resurrection, he showed that God is with us in joy and sorrow, His own death was an injustice, and yet God did not stop it. Jesus shows us that God os present in our suffering. What about evil, then? As long as human beings live in a fallible world, in a world subject to natural laws, and in a world where there is disease and injustice, these things will happen. God is not the divine policeman, but he is the divine caregiver. We also must allow for the fact that humna beings are not robots and automatons and they will do what they choose to do. They may choose what is wrong. Everyone does from time to time. Human life is fragile. It is not that God controls or manages everything that happens and that is not real faith. Real faith is that we see God's love for us in the face of death and suffering, as we see Jesus suffering as one of us. Yet out of death came resurrection. We should pray for and support those in trouble and sorrow, since we are to act as God's agents in the world and not to blame God for terrible things. Instead, we are to be part of the healing and justice we seek and to work for a better world where evil does not flourish and where good is revealed in the hope, healing, love, and peace, we know come from God.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  17. jukedaddy

    2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:1-2 and John 12:31. These describe who is really the god of this world... So, when the Bible says that Satan is the "god of this world," it is not saying that he has ultimate authority. It is conveying the idea that Satan rules over the unbelieving world in a specific way

    July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      The reference was to Caesar – and it was "God of our era."

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

      These scriptures do not refer to caesar...

      July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      So the Devil made you post that?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • jukedaddy

      Entirely possible...

      July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  18. Matt R

    Taken from http://bstrait.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/a-miracle-inside-the-the-aurora-shooting-one-victims-story/

    "It seems as if the bullet traveled through Petra’s brain without hitting any significant brain areas. The doctor explains that Petra’s brain has had from birth a small “defect” in it. It is a tiny channel of fluid running through her skull, like a tiny vein through marble, or a small hole in an oak board, winding from front to rear. Only a CAT scan would catch it, and Petra would have never noticed it.

    But in Petra’s case, the shotgun buck shot, maybe even the size used for deer hunting, enters her brain from the exact point of this defect. Like a marble through a small tube, the defect channels the bullet from Petra’s nose through her brain. It turns slightly several times, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain. In many ways, it almost misses the brain itself. Like a giant BB though a straw created in Petra’s brain before she was born, it follows the route of the defect. It is channeled in the least harmful way. A millimeter in any direction and the channel is missed. The brain is destroyed. "

    Petra is a perfect example of how God created each of us with a plan and a reason. It is not by chance that Petra was sitting in that movie theater in that seat and was struck with a bullet exactly in the path of her defect. A millimeter either was and her brain would have been damaged. We as humans can not even fathom the grace and wonder of God. You may ask why God allows such violent acts to happen to us if we believe in Him? Obviously His son Jesus believed in Him but he was brutally beaten and crusified on the cross? Violence unfortunately is part of this world, but Heaven is free of any worry or harm. Even history books have reference to this man Jesus Christ. The Bible is still the worlds top selling book of all time...there must be something to this God/ Jesus thing. I personally an not willling to take a chance at not going to Heaven so I live my life for God.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Adam Armstrong

      I find this disturbing nonsense. If it was God's plan that she be in the theatre at that moment so that this pre-planned brain defect could save her, then it must also be God's plan for those who died not to have this advantage. I am a Christian and cannot conceive that God looks at a movie theatre and chooses who will live or die. If it was God's plan that she live, it was also then God's plan for the shooter to do what he did. Believing in plans, chances, so-incidensces, and so forth may help you, but it is cold comfort for those who suffer. When someone survives an accident when others die and they say that God saved them, it seems that God didn't concern himself with the others or that they deserved to die-or it was "planned". This is senseless and mean.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Wait, are you actually saying God left an empty place in her brain just so He could have a man shoot her in the head one day and people would be impressed? Yeah, that's a nice story. Even better if someone had stopped a man from firing a bullet into her skull in the first place. But there are still a lot of dead and wounded, and a few of wounded may still die. How come God didn't leave empty places in their bodies and save them, too?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  19. Jimmy

    First let me say, God does not belong in the class room or City Hall or our Currency. God belongs in our hearts. God gave each of us free choice, free to chose "good" and free to choose "bad". Would a benevelant god make us do only good? Would we be children of god or would we be robots? A rabbi once said, and I wish i could remember his name, but he said, "We don't know why bad things happen to good people, but we do know that when we cry, God cries with us." As far as god punishing us for what other people are doing (i.e. gays, femenists, haitians who made a pact with satan 200 years ago) has everyone forgotten Abraham's bargaining with God "Will you punish the entire town if there are 50 righteous people..." God punishes the wicked and only the wicked. Nature punishes indiscrimately. We need to stop telling others how to live and concentrate on our own selves, I know I do. Put God back in your hearts, you are the only bible some people will ever read...

    July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  20. Verbatim

    Wasn't there s game show with Bob Barker – The Priest Is Right?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Spray and neutralize your pests.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:16 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.