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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. Mat

    I guess most vilifying GOD deosnt understand what it actually means. God has given us the free will to live as we want. He has also shown the way to eternal life. If he was going to interfere in every action, then he could have made us Robots. By OD out of the state, we ensure we pushed out of our life too. Now that tragedy happens we turn around and ask, where is GOD? For true believers they know the truth, for others, hope you open your mind and heart to the living GOD. Peace and happiness will truly follow.

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

      Which Hindu god was that? Hey Rama!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • matt in nw

      Do as i say or burn... kinda morrors Catholic policy in the middle ages – coincidence? nahhhh

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

      @Dennis – I think you know better who Rama is, I dont want to comment on another religion? I believe in one true God.
      @matt in nw – I condemn all the barbaric acts did in the name of christ. It was the act of despots/criminals and psychopaths. I am a christian. You can call what ever you want, I have my faith.
      God bless both of you.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  2. Jon Stoehr

    God is not accountable for our actions..God gave us the 10 Commandments to live by..One of those commandments was I Shall Not Kill! I guess that settles that ..

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

      Do you remember to honor the Sabbath, because that's a commandment too.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  3. Troy Symons

    cnn your pathetic for asking this question.

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

      Why pathetic? It's a pretty common question at times like this.

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

      Here is an example of a person who prefers to be a mushroom ( kept in the dark and fed...) thanks to CNN for allowing a conversation on the subject. Many people have doubts, and it's good to know you're not alone. The only way we will grow as humans is to get this out in the open.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  4. Watcher

    As a parent, I could NEVER allow my child to get hurt for any reason, theological or otherwise...and I"m just a human. Any 'God' that allows innocent people to die because he 'can't get involved' is NO GOD at all. Even the worst parent wouldn't allow such a thing. Conclusion: THERE IS NO GOD EXCEPT THE ONE WITHIN EACH OF US FOR BETTER OR WORSE.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • J.C.

      I'll say "amen" to that.

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

      God did not make this happen. He has given free will to humans and the way to eternal life. Its we ( i dont mean us personally) who are responsible for it. God interferes in the life of those who truly believe. For those who truly believe nothing can faze them, neither death nor life.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The "There is no God because He doesn't act like I think He should" argument is neither theologically derived nor logically supportable. You are experiencing an emotional reaction from your human perspective.

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

      Belief in God is definately a choice that you make, or........ don't!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Mike

      Fed up with $4 a gallon gasoline, I found I could save a lot of money by putting kool aid in my car. It is only .20 a packet, and I add 1 cup of sugar per 2 quarts. Basically I can get a couple gallons for the dollar. Yet despite my efforts later my car died. Where was the car maker in this tragedy? See I am doing what America has been doing the last 100 years. Ignoring my owners manual, reaping the consequences, and then blaming the maker when I ignored clear instructions how to keep my car running. Where was God in the Aurora shootings? Hollywood has blasphemed the true and living God over and over, exalts things God hates and trashes things God loves, and now everyone wonders where God was. Simple, God is a gentlemen. He isn't welcomed in Hollywood and He is letting them pursue their selfish desires and suffer the consequences. If you exalt evil and villians, don't be shocked if you attract a mad man. You can live as you want, but you must pay the cost. God's word offers clear blessings for doing things God's way, and cursings for doing things our own way. God does not change. Religion says we can come to God HOW WE THINK, evolution says WE ARE GOD'S and ACCOUNTABLE TO NO ONE, and today's redefined Christianity redefines God to BE LIKE US instead of us CONFORMING TO BE LIKE HIM. God is holy. Hatred is MURDER according to 1st John and Lust is ADULTERY according to Jesus Christ. We are all guilty before our perfect owner and maker and will have to face Him on Judgment Day. God took our punsihment for sin on the cross 2000 years ago. It is there where God's love meets his justice. To neglect that or reject that means you then have to pay for your sins in Hell. God offers the gift of eternal life to anyone who does what he says - REPENTANCE (Turning from sin to Him) and FAITH (in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross). Jesus is God. We need to make him OUR God. He used to be in America no matter what the revisionists claim. The Bible says in Psalms Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord. The Bible also says the WICKED shall be turned into HELL and all the nations that FORGET God. The true God is forgotten in America. God is simply trying over and over to gently get our attention with the financial and physical storms. He is slowly turning things up. He is trying to wake up the LOST and the CHURCH alike. God isn't willing that any shoud perish but that all should come to repentance. God loves us but hates our sin. Because of this sin cursed and God rejecting world, there will be more shootings and violence to come. That is not God's fault. But despite our wanderings, He is waiting on us to wake up and consider our ways. What will it take America to see God is trying to get our attention? Friend, what will it take to see God is trying to get yours?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  5. Tnick

    God gave man the power of free will.....period

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

      No free will for the Dinosaurs though.

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

      @Dennis. Didnt you were.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  6. Graham Ginsberg

    Where was God? A simple question if you had asked which of the hundreds of gods you\'re asking about

    July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  7. Ken

    Belief in magic (god) is holding our country back. Some of us have learned a great deal from those willing to understand our planet over the last 2000 years. Drop the "God" nonsense and let's continue to learn as a species. I believe it is time to join the less religious nations who have lower crime and better socio-economics simply by not following nonsense that is thousands of years old.

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

      Just show me one Godless country that meets what you have writen.

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

      Sweden, Mat.

      What, did you not earn the second T in 'Matt' yet?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Mat

      @Sam.yes, thats why, they have a very good immigration from islamic countries. Give it another 15 years and it will become an islamic country. Then I want to see all these godless people running for cover. What you dont realize is that the freedom to not to believe evovlved from the basic foundation of free will as taught in the bible.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  8. Cosmos42

    Occam's Razor: There is no god; people died because a psychopath did what psychopaths do when they have access to heavy firepower. It's just cause and effect.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The behavior of psychopaths is not data relevant to the existence or no existence of God.

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

      So Deacon,

      Why did God create psychopaths in the first place?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  9. ArthurP

    Where was God. He was playing chess with the Devil for the souls of the dead.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  10. Graham Ginsberg

    Where was God? A simple question if you had asked which of the hundreds of gods you're asking about

    July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  11. Zach

    God is all powerful. We as individuals and as his children do not know the whole picture. God allow things happen for a reason, and that's beyond us. Tragedies happen everyday and this is one of those trials which tests our faith. There's no reasoning with God. It's faith and it's love.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Johnny Caruso

      If God exists, he should apologize.

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

      @Johnny: For what should he apologize?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Satan

      Really? There is no reasoning with God? Truly you "christian" jest! Have you ever actually read your bible? Ever hear of Jacob?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  12. Jimi

    It is not God's will that anyone should die (John 3:17). We live in a fallen world (Genesis 3 and 4) Having said that, as Christians, we have to remember one thing. Our war is not against the flesh, but against the principalities and powers of the air, AKA Satin (Ephesians 6:12) God sent his only son into this world that whoever would believe in him would not perish, but have eternal life with him (John 3:16). Therefore to say that it was God's will for this to happen is wrong. God does not temp any man and he cannot be tempted (James 1:13-20). However even in the situation, God's grace was there. How? Many will say and have said that the only thing that stopped the gunman was his gun jammed. The gun jamming was God exercising His grace in the situation. I know it's hard to believe, but it's true. God's grace saved others from Death.My prayers go out to all the victims, and to the gunman as well.

    Heavenly Father, I ask right now Lord, that those who survived will be comforted by your love, and those who were wounded, may they be healed and made new. I ask that your would forgive the man who committed this horrible deed, and may his punishment be justified in your eyes. Lord, only you know the desires of our hearts and I ask that you would continue to heal the hurts, comfort those who mourn, Give grace to those who humble themselves before you. Protect those who are afraid and give us all strength to get through this difficult time. I don't know why this happened Lord, and I ask that you would cover the families with your grace and mercy and love while they deal with their loss of loved ones. I pray they are all home with you now, looking down on us. Thank you Lord for all you have done and continue to do. Amen.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • reality check

      If it "isn't god's will that anyone should die" explain the Passover and God's wholesale slaughter of those that didn't handle door decor in lambs blood to god's liking?

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

      Well, there lacks a sense of propriety in your prose! ...and the lack of education in the books of the bible... perhaps a drift through the book of Sirach might help!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Rationalintn

      Oh, please. God didn't pick and choose who lived and died in this shooting. God didn't show Grace to those who lived because they prayed harder or went to church more often than those who died.

      These things aren't controlled or allowed or prevented by god or prayer or faith. God doesn't intervene in events on this planet. A god who created the entire universe, does not need to be worshipped by mere mortals. Really folks, if you had the power to create a universe with planets and stars and any kind of creature, would you really need to stick around and watch the freak show when the creatures start killing each other?

      Think beyond the boundaries of this atmosphere and your own limited imagination. Stop asking a church for answers, that has a financial interest, and cares more about it's own self-preservation than about enlightenment.

      Humans hold onto this mythology because they want to see dead relatives again, or they want to live forever. Sorry, it's not gonna happen. Live while you can, here and now.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Kalki

      This discussion should be multi-faith related and not Christian alone.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Kalki

      God, irrespective of whichever faith, loves all human beings. And does not characterise them as Christians, Jews, Hindus or Muslims. And, there are so many events that cause death acrpss this world, most of them unfair. God either doesnt exist or just allows things to unravel the way humans let happen.
      Humans have to take responsibility and act to remain a social animal. Careless distribution of guns and arguing for the same under the pretext of whatever amendment that is, are irresponsible ways to deal with this. Unless we wake up to that, all the Gods of all religions put together cannot solve this problem.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  13. Mike Mazzla

    it is 2012 people. There is no such thing as God. Sometimes bad things happen. Thats why some good people die and some bad people live. Thats the way it works. Time to grow up

    July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Someone please explain the concept of positive assertions to your non believing brethren! They are totally destroying your scientifically based agnosticism with their belief system

      July 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  14. Peter Altman

    God does exist! He allows us to live our lives as we see fit. Unfortunately, evil does exist and at times prevails.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  15. christians are dumb

    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 2:56 pm |
    • Satan

      Then instead of the "christians are dumb" nonsense, state something that makes sense. Perhaps... "Christians believe in things that do not have evidence.", or "Christians will believe anything in the bible as true." You know... rules like: "If thine eye cause thy sin then cut it out!"... and such.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Mike Mazzla

      Dude you are wrong because I just bought a great studio apt in a whales belly and I get to travel all over the world in it so the jokes on you.

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

    These types of stories on CNN are getting so old. There is no God. Never was a God. Never will be a God. The people in Aurora were killed/injured because an lunatic decided to shoot them. This story is ridiculous.

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

      Ignorance is bliss.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Positive assertions of negative conditions are neither scientific nor poetic

      July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  17. Satan

    For those who would think your God would abandon you, well... perhaps you might think instead of how much you do to be good just to be close to Him! Be careful of the next question though.....

    July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  18. Tom

    God is dead and we have killed him.

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

      That is some stinkin thinkin

      July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  19. Christian

    God was there

    Clownhead did the shooting, not God

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

    I am 15 and a Baptist Christian. In my opinion God will let bad things happen to test us. Look in the old testimate in the bible at Job Ch. 1 , starting at verse 6. God let Jobs children die. Testing him to see if he would ever curse God. Everyone told him to curse God from his friends to even his own wife, but in the end he never did and passed God's test.

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

      How did that work out for Job's children?

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

      Wow! Congratulations Michael.... seems you are becoming more catholic with each word! Catholics should take heed!

      July 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • The Thinking Agnostic

      So when God killed all the first-born of Egypt, that was a test of what? How cruel of a God he could be to innocent children? How many kids he could slaughter with a wave of his hands? If you think the reason we suffer is because of his testing of us, then you sir are an idiot

      July 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Troy Symons

      thanks for that

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

      @The Thinking Agnostic:

      That was terrorism. Killing those with no political power to influence those with political power.

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

      @tom@The Thinking Agnostic. The old testament has been of the past. The new testamant talks above love and eternal life. Jobs children, I am sure would be having eternal life. Given a choice, I would prefer that.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Mike Mazzla

      S–t Michael Open up a freaking Science and Math book and stop with the religion nonsense. You are too young to be indoctrinated into such nonsense.... if your parents are still dopey enough to believe in that and force you to also.. and you are afraid of disappointing them.. pretend you believe..but i real life read a book. Sheesh

      July 25, 2012 at 3:11 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.