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. Piobair

    "Where was God?"
    Nowhere, but between your own two ears. God is simply an imaginary friend for grown-ups.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  2. no nothing

    If god is so great and powerful and wants everybody to believe in him or her then he or she should appear on every TV schannel once a day just to make it so, and not have nut jobs that hear voices say so.

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

      You want God to make it easy for you. You must be a couch potato

      July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  3. indypolitic

    Those who say God doesn't exist is either too lazy to study the word of God and compare that with real history or just too scared to believe in him. People we will not live forever and there is a more important lesson with these types of tragedy, where will you end up after you die no matter how you die?

    July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      But isn't the whole point of religion that we will live forever? Perhaps not in these bodies, but in some other way? Sound's like you're the one who's afraid of giving that up.

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

      Very good, hysterical even. Believers get all the information they need from one book and it's non-believers who are lazy? Believers believe out of fear of eternal punishment, but it's non-believers who are scared? Hysterical.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  4. Believer

    The real problem is that Satan has taken over the Church. Christians go to church and listen to things that should not be talked about in church. They listen to the life of Jesus and then do exactly the opposite everyday. Satan's enemy is the Church and he is totally whipping them! Take hope world, Jesus loves you even if christians don't!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  5. Pcontiman

    God, your Father, was where he always is. Every one of you has the opportunity and ability to find out where that is. If you would like to know, then you have the instruction to find out:

    2Ti 2:15
    Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    Do that and I believe you will rightly divide the word of truth.

    If you believe that God and his Son, Jesus Christ are myths, I don't know what to do to help you other than to offer that you pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to understand and for God's will to be done in your life.

    If you want to learn more and/or are looking for your brothers and sisters in Christ, there is a website by believers that you will find helpful. http://www.bible-research.org

    lastly, Why do you think Satan is called the god of this world in the scriptures ?

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

      Because the people who wrote the scriptures wanted to scare people into believing their BS.

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

      And what would be the point of scaring people into believing ? I think I have to mark that answer as wrong. I don't see any evidence of Christ, Peter, Matthew, Paul, etc benefiting financially or socially from spreading the word. As Paul said, "If Christ did not rise from the dead, then we are of all men most miserable" (loose quote).

      July 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  6. Molly

    The comment by Jessie R. is truly infuriating to me. Not only does this person seem to forget that we, as a nation, do not subscribed to one specific religion, but also that many people do not believe in this God. So, blaming the fact that I do not want my children to be inducted into your religion in their public schools makes us a terrible nation, lacking in morals? Are we serious? Does this user forget why our forefathers came to this land in the first place? Additionally, this comment implies that humans are incapable of knowing right from wrong without religion. Yes it may get confusing at times, but I am pretty sure that the majority of humans, regardless of their religious beliefs, know that the events in Aurora are wrong, and would not commit such acts of violence. This is not dependent upon one's faith, or lack their of. This is inherent in all humans! Shame on you Jessie R., for your lack of faith in humans and your insistence upon stifling other's freedom of religion in order to feel more secure in your own.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  7. connie and Annalyn crissman

    Twice in the bible, God and then Jesus,were heartbroken over mans' actions.First ,in Genesis, God discovered that mans heart is inherently wicked. Then when Jesus asked Paul why was he torturing his followers.Jesus told Paul that when he was doing this he was hurting him. God and Jesus are heartbroken and hurting for you now.

    To any victims or families hurt by this tradgey;
    I am so, so deeply deeply sorry over this event.
    As a RN in a hospital, I have spent last moments with some of my patients. It is very important to me that you know that these are very valuable moments. It is a time of dignity and comforting. I have felt a guiding presence coming to them as they will have to your loved one.
    If you find ourself in the quiet corner of your world, aching for the one that you love, take heart. please know that you have been loved and are now remembered with deep care. may God bless you and hold you. all my love , connie

    God's love for us in undying, he is just as heartbroken and shocked over this terrible event as we all are. I remember once seeing a picture of God looking down on a corrupt city, and he was crying. This made me come to the relization that although God is the infinite creator, he cannot personally control every action and decision we make. It is up to us, as his children, to follow his example and defy the Devil. But, some of us lose our way and horrible tragedies like the one in Aurora occur. This is was it is so important for us to guide one another in love and compassion, and serve God with all of our hearts. He does not want such horrible things to happen to us. Annalyn

    July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  8. Ian

    Jesse R....Are you saying that people who don't believe in god don't know the difference between right and wrong?.....or that you can't discipline your children w/o somehow using god?......or that our children are misfits becacuse they don't believe in god?.....last but not least, do you equate faith with believing in god? Those are Interesing view points!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  9. Ed T Duck

    LOL. The hardest theological question of all time... And you ask Twitter. ROFL, nice journalism there.

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

      Yep, everyone knows God is on Facebook, not Twitter.

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

    GOD... The last time I checked my Bible my Lord commands his followers to LOVE one another, FORGIVE those who persecute you, and PRAY for those in need. GOD doesnt command us make weapons, cars, cell phones, tv's or anything else. We choose these things.. we choose to live fast, stressed out lives persuing and obtaining as much as possible.. we choose to live lives that completeley contradict the way GOD has told us we should live, and then we wonder and point the finger at GOD for not helping us. Living our way forces us to be a tired, stressed, and selfish society. Just a thought but maybe if we all lived the way GOD has showed us this young man maybe would have had someone love him when he needed love, or prayed for him when he needed help, or forgive him when he needed forgiveness this may not have happened. GOD was in Aurora that night... He was there weeping with everyone else, wondering why we continue to push him away!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  11. Kareen

    There is no God or Satan, only good and evil people.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Good and evil are also relative, not absolute.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So what relative perspective makes this shooting not evil?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  12. Claudio

    This is again a very myopic way to see how evil is in human nature. Only when disaster touches us we then become philosophical and "seem to care" about our fellow brothers. And why is the act of a crazy coward and act of God? If that is the case then should we blame God for Darfur, Haiti, 9-11, the balkans, Hitler, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, etc. , etc. Humans and their inherit evil are to blame as well as us who just stand and watch with our arms crossed because it did not touch us are also to blame. If we raise as one and take action as one a different story can be written. But how good is to sit in our comfortable house while millions suffer and blame the others for our apathy.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  13. the wise one

    if there is no god, and no higher power. how can you determine what is good and what is evil? if you say this is good or this is evil, who told you, if there is no higher power to determine it. maybe what you call good and what you call evil is the opposite. who are you to say something is good or evil if there is no god. from whose point of view? who are you to determine what is good and evil since it suits your view. Just an answer to those who say god doesn't exist.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  14. ceg10

    What if God is saying to us, "Awh that's nothing what about all the killing I see daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. Did you know thousands upon thousands are killed each year in America by gun violence and no one yet is concerned?" Why God allowed this, no What is God saying to America...? Do we really need weapons of war designed for mass killings in non-military hands? What is God saying to America....?

    July 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  15. Dustin Smith

    Gods will is to have us joined to him of our own free will. Free will is essential to his plan. His will is not that these people die but his will is what allowed the killer to choose to do right or wrong. God cannot override a humans will, so to speak, to do so would negate the very thing he has set out to do by giving us free will. It is my mothers will that i clean my room. She leaves me to do it. If i do not clean it it is not her will but her "leaving me to choose" is what made my disobedience possible. If she was to hold my hand and make me clean it or just clean it for me I would not grow or become what she hopes, that is a son that does what he should of his own free will.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  16. Collis

    God has given man free will but we choose who influences our free will. Evil is very real and looking at the shooter it is strongly possible that he is demonicly posessed. God doesn't think like we think and He has allowed evil to run its course throughout history as He has allowed good to run its course. However, rest assured that God is fair and just, judgement is His and will be administered in His time.

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

    I grieve for all the people affected by this event – this should not happen anywhere in the world. I give them my deepest feelings of sorrow and hope for heeling. What 'God' are we talking about – is it Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, Budist, or many others? God has nothing to do with it – not everyone believes in god or has their own beliefs in what they need. It may be no religion or their own that helps them – but "god" usually pertains to Jesus and Catholics in this country. Religion plays a far too large part in politics, news, explanations, and control. This is just the terrible state of the world today.................. and our life now.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  18. Josh

    God has always allowed free will of man since Adam and Eve. It's God's love that allows us to have free choice to live a life that we choose. God never said there isn't a consequence for our decision to live for or against God, but the fact is we were given a choice through His grace. Evil exists because we choose for it to exist.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  19. Kevin Jasien

    If you were Satan what would your priorities be in the world? To convince the world that God doesn't exist. How would you do that if you were the devil? He knows what he is doing.
    If you think God is doing a poor job running things on earth... Well I have news for you, God is not running things here. Men are running things here, and it has been that way from the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. This is a fallen world in the hands of the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. If you don't believe that, then did you here about the theater shooting in Colorado? Where do you think evil begins?

    God is right where he has always been. Don't be deceived.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  20. Steve

    God is every where except for places that are ran by the government. Stop whining about god being out of schools, libraries, etc. But since he does not exist I guess it does not matter any how. People who believe in god just can't accept reality. I gave up my imaginary friends a long time ago.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:58 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.