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

    I want to punch christians

    July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • indypolitic


      July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • lordsir

      join the mujihadin – malaka

      July 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  2. Mark

    God is a creation of man. That being said we as humans are obviously not the highest level of existance, – by far. Science (which studies how the machine works, not who/what created the machine) tells us that there are likely multiple if not unlimited universes (yeah really). Since we created God as a way for simple creatures like us to try and make sense of things, God does or doesn't do whatever we think it should or shouldn't do. The reality is that this happened because a man who was angry or crazy or both decided he was too much of a coward to take his own life, so he took the lives of innocent people instead, as an expression of his rage. God is only involved if you believe he was involved.

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

    Does God know the future?

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

      Why does god need a starship?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • waterman

      @Dennis I don't get it. Starship?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • lordsir

      That was Nostradamus – Nostril Damage

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  4. Karl F

    "God" is ghost, a thought. It is deeply needed by those lacking higher education. It is rooted in the fear and ignorance. His followers would rather die than think. Even those religious people who succeed in money or career-making, fail to see it was their own sacrifice and not a ghost what made them overcome their own limitations and become extraordinary human beings.

    It is true that "God" had absolutely nothing to do with this event. What does not exist cannot bear any possible relationship or blame.

    If there had been armed citizens inside that cinema, the attacker would have been killed early, thus saving many of the already lost lives. Anyways, there are more weapons per capita in Canada, yet far less criminals of this type than in the USA. Are today's American's too shallow as to seek deep inside their inner being for what the entire society has failed to prevent or correct?

    When guns become banned and severe penalties are handed down to those who persist in risking their freedom to protect themselves it will be the time when to arm bearers it will be the same obtaining a semi-auto handgun that getting a sub-machine gun in the black market. The legal penalty will end up being about the same, but the firepower that people will risk in having to protect themselves will be insurmountably higher.

    Weapon-haters should get their act together and think with more logic. Banning legal weapons will make the black market flourish and more automatic weapons will soon be seen in every street for good or for evil.

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

      more weapons per capita? How about per square kilometre? Statistics like this are useless – just look at the events that occur from gun violence and the number of people that are murdered – Murder seems to be a sport in the US – The US criticized Communist States for lacking religion – we see in this forum how many people believe in God in the US. Go ask Alice – I think she knows....

      July 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  5. vince

    i see a lot posting here are in for one hell of a trip when they die! catch my drift?

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

      Holy shit, vince, you are so clever. I see what you did there!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • yeahalright

      I'm going to die on a great vacation? Bummer.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  6. Brannon

    Where was God in Aurora? He was in the same place when his Son was nailed to the cross. God Speaks To Job (Job 38:1-42:6)

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

      Exactly. God is sovereign over all good and evil. The disciples asked the same question when Christ was nailed to the cross; how could God let Jesus die? What they didn't understand was it was all part of God's plan to save us all. Without Jesus Christ's sacrifice, we would all be doomed.

      It is one of the hardest things to understand, but even through the evil of this world, God's will is being executed.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Calm Dog

      @Anonymous – I've always been stumped by that one. Why did God demand that his son come down and die before he would fix things? That seems particularly cruel. He's God. Couldn't he have just snapped his metaphysical fingers? Just sayin...

      July 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • lordsir

      Hey dog – try some reading – you might learn something about cruelty and religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Calm Dog

      lordsir – Yup, they're kinda like the Olson twins. You hardly ever see one without the other.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  7. madi7


    July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Calm Dog

      You have a point. We have to depend on ourselves and those in authority to keep this kind of thing from happening. Because God doesn't seem to have a problem with it.

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

      FINALLY! A comment that makes sense. I agree, my friend. Why do innocent people have to die, before our leaders will act? And even then, probably, about 10% will even care.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  8. fsjunkie

    Why can't other Christians give useful feedback like this poster a few pages back? This was extremely helpful. If you're not here to help, go do something else!!

    "Yes, bad things happen to good people, and vice versa. But "get over it" is a cold and less than human response. God was there. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a courageous pastor and theologian in Germany during Hitler's reign, said it best when asked the same question by a fellow political prisoner when they saw someone severely beaten by the guards. "Where is your God now?" this agnostic asked him. Bonhoeffer answered, "He's right there taking the beating." Precisely the central point of the Christian faith. And this is the only lasting source of consolation for those who have lost loved ones.... Jesus, the incarnation of God himself, means we are not alone in our suffering. God is with us. Ultimately, he also delivers us from our suffering if we hold on to him, though we may have to suffer many things in this life. True life is bigger than all our pain. True life is "God with us."

    July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  9. stu fleishman

    When a maniac is permitted to buy an automatic rifle and 6000 rounds of ammunition, you expect something else to happen? My G-d does not micromanage mankind. We have brains and any supreme being would expect us to use them. When it's easier to buy a gun than it is to buy aspirin with codeine, you have to expect bad things to happen.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Calm Dog

      "We have brains and any supreme being would expect us to use them."
      One would think that if a being were actually 'supreme', he would have noticed a pattern after thousands of years.
      and doesn't he already know the future?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  10. lordsir

    ask Pat Roberston – he seems to have all the answers related to God. A Bible in one hand and a gun in the other!

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

      which hand does he take all the money from the elderly with?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • lordsir

      the hand between his legs

      July 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • lordsir

      autodeposit and credit cards – he has a team – like an army.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  11. @lamarcac

    the ignorance and stupidity of the average person never fails to amaze me.

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

      Why cant we all be wise like you? Imagine "stupid" people owning guns!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Art

      @lamarcac Don't let it bother you too much. If you try really hard, you have the rest of your life on earth to lift yourself above average.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • @lamarcac

      Thank you for proving my point

      July 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  12. the voice of reason

    I always enjoy this so-called "free will" discussion. Let me get this straight. God "our father" allows us to do what ever we want, correct? Do you think for one minute that we, as fathers, should do the same thing with our children? Let them run out into the street, play with real guns and knives at an early age....ummmm, 6-7 maybe? Maybe younger? We love our children the same as god loves us, correct? Shall we just hope that our kids exercise their "free will" as we are allowed by god to do?

    I sure hope not.

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

      You have to ask that question? If you can't figure it out for yourself, maybe you shouldn't become a parent.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Susan

      Yes God our Heavenly Father allows us the right to choose right or wrong, faith or denial, even to kill or to harm. But he does not allow us to choose the consequences of our choices. Death will come to each and every one of us, our task is to do all we can to do good in this world and love Him for providing us a way to be forgiven for what we with our human frailties do to one another. He offers faith and hope to all.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  13. Bill

    Completely inappropriate to ask such a question right after this tragedy. CNN has sunk to a new low.

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

      can they get even lower or have they reached the bottom?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  14. Rick Thompson

    According to the Old Testament, God approved of Joseph murdering thousands of innocent women and children. And post New Testament approved of many more murderous atrocities under the authority of God. Having said all that, who are we to say these innocent did not deserve to be murdered. If God didn’t think they deserved it, God would not have let it happen. N’est Pas? Come on, can’t you see brainwashing when you see it? History is written by those in power to control those without power. Most average people couldn’t even read, so those in power told them what to believe and scolded, tortured, or murdered them when they questioned it. If Hitler can brainwash a nation of educated people in just 20 years; than certainly those in power over hundreds of years can easily brainwash an entire world! See with your eyes and feel with your heart. Ignore all religion because they have and are the cause of a majority of atrocities and wars………. on behalf of a beloved God???

    July 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  15. Why oh why

    First off, I'm not even going to get into the debate whether god exists or not. That has been around long before any of us were born and not one person/thing has been able to justify/fully explain either side of the argument. You may think you have justified/explained it but have you been able to explain it to everyone's satisfaction? If so then this would not be an argument and not one of these posts would exist.

    If someone could explain to me in detail and with absolute certainty for either side, I am more than willing to listen

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

      The creation of this magnificant universe is proof enough in the exidence of God.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  16. Sarah

    Reading some of these posts just brings to light how confused a lot of people are about who God is; the same reason that we are were we are today. God is merciful and he said in his word that "the thought that I have for you is of good and not evil, to bring you to an expected end". The founders of this nation knew the importance of God and did everything within their power to uphold that. But the newer generation thinks otherwise; now see where that has landed us. We have driven God out of everything, including the way we raise our kids. So, why would anyone expect God to intervene when we already told him we did not need him.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • no nothing

      Yea, yea ,yea IF EVERYONE just believed in god , then the whole world would be a better place. Just keep living in that bubble.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Boisepoet

      So the all powerful omnipotent god is impotent to do anything because we have secular schools?
      Ignorance apparently knows no boundaries in the eyes of the 'religious'.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Smarter Person

      What you religious people don't seem to understand is that when you instill right and wrong via an authority figure that isn't there (if you see him though, tell him I say what's up and I have a few questions) it doesn't have remotely the same impact as if you instill it via a sense of responsibility to each other.

      PS – I seriously doubt god would want his minions raping young boys #justsaying

      July 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Bennett

      You should read history more. Our founding father's did NOT want Christianity in control of our nation.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • MA

      Because theoretically, God is more knowledgeable and forgiving (mature) than we are.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  17. Dennis

    Maybe they worshiped the wrong god.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  18. francesca

    God gives us all a free will, and it is up to us to use that free will in a responsible way, not an evil way. We cannot blame God, he cannot be accountable for our actions.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • mi5150

      hmm. God gives us freewill and we choose good or bad? What about the victims' free will? They chose to die painfully in terror? And liberals make it impossible fro God to be around? Let's see... let's pick a time when god was in every house and on every mouth .. let's pick the 400 years starting at 1400s ... wasn't spanish inquisition fun? Lets pick the 1600s ... oh right, that's when women were being dunked in ponds in the name of god. Hmmm, let's pick any "islamic" country today ... god seems low on tolerance there too. The only thing that gives you a modern society is the liberal bias towards science and reason. Or else, you'd be sitting in church schools or madrasas until age 12 (for girls) and 16 (for boys) and that would be the end of your education because god just hates that "libral learnin' that messes up 'dem believin' minds, yes siree'

      July 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • mi5150

      @Francesca. ... sorry, some of my comments were meant for the overall tenor of the faithful, not you specifically.

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

    How can those who believe in God say that he is so far above mere mortals that we can't comprehend his intentions – that he works in "mysterious ways" – and in the same breath, expound at length about what God wants, what he likes or hates, and the reasons for his actions? Pick one and go with it. Decide.

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

      Right on! That is always my point. One can only understand from the level of one's experience.The hypocrisy is amazing.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  20. the_dude

    Why would God intervene? He gave man free will and this is what we have done with it. If God intervened everytime an atheist sheds a tear then it would'nt make sense for him to judge us when it is all over. Quit asking sucj stupid questions. God gave man free will to do what he wants. We screwed it up badly....

    July 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • mi5150

      The will of starving children in Ethiopia is not die of hunger caused by (ahem, dare I say, God given droughts?). What is God doing about that?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:15 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.