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. Charlene

    I've experienced a few tragedieis in my life. And what I've learned is pointless tragedies just happen. It's just part of life. The yin to the yang. The darkness to the light. "To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction" I do have a strong belief in God but I don't think he lets these things happen or makes them happen. They just do happen. Human beings make their own choices. And there's no purpose or reason to these tragedies. Just human fault.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  2. Michael Herrera

    Tragedies are evidence that there is a GOD in this universe! How many people get away with murder every year, without ever being put in jail? Thousands! Do you really think they will get away with it forever? On Judgement day GOD will bring to light any cases or crimes that were never brought to justice, and for those that thought they got away from murder will pay by being thrown into the Lake of Fire, that the Bible mentions. We don't like seeing violence like this, but despite that we $pay$ to be entertained by it? We should invest more on values than violence.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • J. Brown

      Another great response.

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

      :: facepalm ::

      Lake of fire, really.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  3. J. Brown

    GOD is a gentleman. He WILL not come where he's NOT welcomed. It is NOT in GOD'S WILL that we perish. BUT, WE have to CHOOSE LIFE for ourselves! Jessie R and Lenny are so on point with their responses and I couldn't agree more. Only a FOOL would say"There is no God."(Psalm 14:1) God is sitting back and watching and also waiting for the the right time, HIS TIME, to return. As long as America continues to turn away from God, you will see MORE calamities like THIS.(2 Chronicles 7:14).

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

      Way to use tragediues to spread your delusions.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • JWT

      There is no need for god – now or ever.

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

    GOD?! Where was Vishnu, Ganesh, Zues, Thor, Eagle Spirit, Moon God, Osiris etc etc etc?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  5. Adolph Hitler

    All i know is that the head of the Mormon believers came across The Garden of Eden when they were traveling through Missouri several years ago.. And he declared that this site is where the Mormons will gather at the second coming.. It is located just outside of Independence Missouri.. You can Google this .... and see for yourself...

    July 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  6. Erika

    It's okay to have your opinion, but as a firm beleiver of God this article makes me sad.

    Please read: http://www.explorefaith.org/world.html

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

      Most "bad" things which happen do so because God gives a radical freedom to God's people; we are free people, not puppets on a string. But God does not cause "bad" things to happen. God loves us and grieves with us in our pain when "bad things" happen.

      Therefore, we might best respond by saying that God does not Will "bad" things to happen in life. Rather, "bad" things happen in the freedom that comes with the gift of life. When "bad" things happen to any of God's children, God is grieved and suffers with us, experienced most vividly in the hurt and suffering of Jesus the Christ for all humanity. Any "bad" thing which happens is never the last word. Rather, God is the deepest and last word, and that word is love and eternal life with God.

      –The Rev. Dr. Douglass M. Bailey

      July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  7. Golden

    God spoke to me after this. He told me he likes pie. I too like pie. Spread the word.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  8. sjtaylorphoto

    If God is All-Knowing and All-Powerful, he must know the future, right? That's one of his powers (you would think), being able to see into the future? Therefore he must have known this was going to happen.

    If He DIDN'T know it was going to happen, he's not All-Knowing.

    I personally believe in God (not sure why), but God sure is in a tight bind, isn't he? Knowing the future because of his all-knowingness, but unable to change the future because... he already knows what's going to happen?

    And why pray? Why ask God to contradict his powers, his own beneficence, by begging him to do something? To change the future that he already knows is going to happen – because He's all-knowing?

    I'm making my own head hurt.

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

      You can record football games on your DVR right? So you too have the power to fast foward and see what happened in the game but do you?

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

    If you can't read the new testament scripture in ancient Greek and old testament scriptures in ancient Aramaic/Hebrew/proto-hebrew your not allowed to comment on what the christian god thinks/desires.

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

      I'm sure those old texts apply to today's world very well...

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

      Half of my point, if you cant even read the text in the context it was written, how do you think you have a divine authority to enforce it.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  10. Tom Hebbeln

    God was right there. He created us free, that doesn't mean he will stop bad things from happening. We're free to good, free to do evil, free to choose faith. There would be no need for faith if God prevented evil from happening. Faith...that's why we're here.
    I love one of the victims comments. About how the gunman was awash in darkness, that you could feel the evil. But the power of the light and the power of good was so much stronger! Said from the victims hospital bed...amazing!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  11. misterjames

    if you believe in bible god you believe in talking snakes and that a man lived in whales' belly for three days and therefore you're an idiot

    July 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  12. Brandon

    The bible states at 1 John 5:19 that Satan is the ruler of this world.
    If God were to step in and prevent disasters like this from happening then there would be no need for his Kingdom to come.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  13. Florence

    Science flies you to the Moon-
    Religion flies you into buildings-

    July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  14. James

    In the bible there have been murders as well, the very first one, Cain murdered Abel. Why did God allow that? He doesn't give an answer but what he does say is just as important. The blood of the dead cries out to God. We too often as humans want to judge others, why did that guy kill all those people, we cannot know what was going though his mind at the time, only God knows. So only God can really be his judge in the end but what I do know is that he can be forgiven if he comes to Christ because Jesus himself said in Matthew 12:31 "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."

    July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  15. Steve

    Boy CNN you opened up a can of worms here…

    In regards to God, God wasn't in Aurora because God doesn't exist. Notice how God conveniently takes a vacation when famine occurs, war breaks out, and plagues pop up-the list goes on and on and on.

    God maintains social order and gives people hope when there is none. God also has a knack for breaking people apart. Everyone has a different interpretation of God because God is their own. God is something we've created to bestow a sense of security upon a confused, confrontational world.

    In short, let's leave God (and religion overall) out of the conversation.

    What happened occurred because someone was sick, not because the "Devil" was pulling the strings. Demons in the underworld are not scheming in pools of magma below the earth's tectonic plates. Voodoo charms are not controlling people. Illness and depravity are. This man certainly committed a "sin," but it is not God who is deeming it such. We are.

    Human beings rule this planet and have the power to change things. It's up to us…not the magical being in the sky to make this world worth living in.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  16. Alan

    Simple answer: God has given us free will. If God were to intervene directly, that would eliminate our freedom of choice. God has given us this world and it is OUR responsibility. God is there to guide us, if we are willing to listen.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      So, He gave us free will, knowing we'd use it to cause suffering. He sounds like a big jerk to me.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  17. ProperVillain

    “In short, God was in complete control, exercising His will,” wrote @PastorRileyF, who leads a church in Bethune, Colorado.

    Pretty sure this bozo wouldn't feel this way if one of his family members had been killed. If this is the case, god is a merciless fiend that likes toying with humanity. Much like the greek and roman gods of old. In my view god only has as much control in our lives as we want to give him and he doesn't play favorites. If "Pastor Riley" would bother reading his bible he would come across the verse that says rain falls on the good and bad. It's what I like to call the "s*&t happens" theology.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |





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

      Exactly! It's all fiction.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  19. GOD

    Sorry but I was busy trying to save some other people in Syria and Africa from slaughter

    July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  20. adamwho

    Where was god? Same place all imaginary beings are, in people's imaginations.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:54 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.