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. One one

    If god doesn't interfere with people's "free will" then there would have Been no point for anyone in that theater to pray to god for help. To help, god would have to interfere with the shooter's free will.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  2. Jose Wilches

    wow, don't you realize that this horrible event is actually the ANSWER to the question?...
    Where is God in America? (Boxed in religion?)

    It's puzzling why this questions ALWAYS arise at the wrong time, where is God in my life today should be the question, where is God in our society every day?

    If we were really interested on the answer to the question "where is God?" is in our daily life's and in our society, we wouldn't be asking this question now.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Nah, the question must always be asked, because it is so mysterious where god is actually residing (sunday school answer is "everywhere"). The most powerful being in the universe is quite stealthy, don't you think?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Jose Wilches

      If God was to show up in front of you, you would kill Him and crucify Him. oh wait.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  3. Dean

    God was in heaven watching. For those of you who forgot or didin't know........
    The Bible tells us in 2nd Corinthians 4:4 that Satan has become the "god of this world".
    While we were a Godly nation God protectd us from satan.
    We have taken God out of schools and all public aspect of life in the U.S. and have allowed satan
    to have pretty much free rein in this coutry.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Observer

      Yep. After thousands of years God is still powerless to stop Satan, who he created.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Dean

      Observer – I do not know how or why God works and you can't imagine it either. I just know what he has said and we have not obeyed.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • One one

      How nice. We didn't worship god enough so he unleashed the monster he created to teach us a lesson.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Dean, are you claiming god punishes those who do wrong according to the free will he gave us? Do you believe god knows anything about the future? Do you believe he is involved in the creation of each new life? Do you believe in the narrow and wide path that states only a minority of people will find the true way (see Revelations)? Then you believe in a sadist and should re-evaluate if this sadistic idea is really worth your veneration.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • LTM

      Dean, we Christians have for too long been blaming the removal of prayer and the 10 Commandments on the trouble in schools and in this country. It has given many of us an excuse to be up in arms that just because schools do not formally recognize Christ then bad things are going to happen.

      I'm sure there is at least one Christian teacher and student in every school in America and likely a whole lot more than that. As long is there are true Christians that are in schools, God is still in the schools. It might just be that we Christians are not very Godly or Christlike as many of those on the opposing side of our debate so appropriately point out.

      My point is, God doesn't need to be recognized by a government to bless His people or a country. But when His people aren't acting like Him, that's when we better watch out.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  4. BucketDrop

    The actuality of a god being involved in this action is as ridiculous as postulating whether Big Foot happened to walk by outside. However, the idea of god may help many of those who are grieving afterwords find some level of comfort (as long as they don't think too hard about it). Religion has its uses.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  5. K

    God is all-powerful, yes. Could he have intervened and stopped this from happening? Yes, he could have. But the fact is, we live in a fallen, sin-ruled world, in which bad things happen because of evil people. In Luke 13, Jesus was asked the same question when a tower fell and killed 18 people. Basically, he says, bad things are going to happen, to 'good' people and 'bad' people. We can do all we can to prevent them, and I absolutely believe that prayer can change things. I've seen it happen. But at the same time, we still live in a fallen, sin-filled world. What's the natural result of that? Bad things, as sad as it is.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      How utterly stupid.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Joseph, I'm not sure how utterly stupid this is. You can glean several interesting things from this comment. The most interesting is that even the bible contradicts the idea that "prayer changes things," unless I read this wrong. Perhaps that does fit your definition, but it is interesting, never-the-less.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • LTM

      Yes, prayer can change things, but not all things. Remember, Jesus even prayed in the garden "..let this cup pass from me... but thy will be done." Last I checked he died on the cross.

      I know for unbelievers it is hard to understand, but not all answers to prayers are "yes" or "ok whatever you want", but all prayers do get an answer. It may be "no", "not right now", or something different.

      That's where faith comes in and if you don't have faith then the matter of prayer should seem strange.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  6. mikeshields

    This is really similar to the 8-9 years olds debating whether Santa exists...

    July 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Indeed. But in spite of it, I just can't help reading some of them.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  7. Kintu

    Maybe god doesn't exist. Maybe if god exists, it is not involved in the world.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  8. Imagine

    There is no god.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  9. Observer

    If God is on the side of the religious right and all their NRA members as they claim, then God supported the stockpiling of the weapons of mass-killing.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  10. Patrick1970

    Which god are we talking about? Zeus? Neptune? Vishnu? Thor?

    July 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  11. DaTruth


    Where was GOD in Aurora? ....... Who do you think jumped in to jam the semi-auto AR-15 ?

    GOD figures that as a society, by allowing the sales of such mass murder weapons, we intend for these types of massacres to happen every so often.....but HE couldn't just stand idly by and watch the carnage.....so he stepped in to jam the assault rifle.

    Prayers go out to the innocent victims of our gun laws...they're man made...same as the weapons!"

    Scientists have proven that the AR-15, when modified with a 100-shot drum barrel, can over heat due to excessive amounts of heat and bullets passing throught the chamber every second. When continously fired, every AR-15 would eventually jam. God had nothing to do with that at all. You are simply using the ends to attempt to justify your means

    July 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  12. pntkl

    Why not ask where was God when Eoshua was crucified on the cross? There is no faith to be found, in this land, or any other.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  13. kiana

    This author was there during the shooting. She later wrote this blog post: "So you still think God is a merciful God?"


    July 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Blaise Pascal

      Obviously it was not God but some crazy guy that perpetrated the crime. God gave us free will. If we couldn't do evil to others then we would just be automotons or robots. God's creation is more perfect because we can do things that he doesn't like–he gave us power and with it responsibility.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  14. Maya

    Voltaire recognized the irrational nature of Christian belief about God and evil long ago: "God has punished the knave, and the Devil has drowned the rest." (From Candide)

    "Free will" is not a logically valid answer to the problem of evil. If God created created free will knowing that it would result in evil, and free will creates evil, God is directly responsible for that evil. Saying otherwise makes about as much sense as a person keeping a dog that he knew was vicious, letting it out, and saying "don't blame me, it was the dog" when it bites someone. No one would think that an acceptable answer, so why should we accept an identical answer about God? Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

    July 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Joe

      You said it. can't argue with that.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  15. Joe

    Please, people. FAR worse things happen in the world EVERY SINGLE DAY. The difference is it happened close to home, so now you care. This is absolutely a tragedy, but guess what, every single day on this earth is equally tragic. What about Syria, large parts of Africa, people dying of AIDS, or the untold billions living in poverty, or the forgotten millions of people living in absolute filth, disease, and on the verge of death every single day? If there is a god, his tolerance for suffering is incomprehensible. But do not blame God for this mess of an earth we find ourselves in. WE created this earth. Another world is possible, but we chose this one. So shame on us. Perhaps God then has a point – we don't deserve a better world.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  16. John Smith

    If God constantly intervenes in the affairs of humans in order to prevent tragedy or anything bad from happening, then what's the point of being alive? It would reduce human existence to little more than a video game for the creator's amusement.
    We were created and set free to live our lives and learn. And with each passing day, we presumably, as a people, become wiser and better for our experiences. No one is promised anything in life. Make of it what you will.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  17. Jeffery

    Where was God's Commandment that said "THOU SHALT NOT KILL" in front of the Building of our lawmakers, in homes, in school, in public zones and at the workplace prior to Aurora Massacre ? What a dumb headline.........Wait, more is to come worst than these and you will never understand. "EVER LEARNING AND NEVER COMING TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH" (2 Timothy 3:7) until you get swooped up into eternal perdition because of your stiff neck and unbelieve. The Word of God cries out to men to believe and Love one another but "HAVE WE DONE THAT" but always ready to point your feeble finger irreverently back at God because you've refused admantly to hear sound doctrine that if you heed would bless you, the ones you love and in general the nation you live in. In all thing "LORD GOD, THY GLORY, POWER AND WISDOM WILL SURELY BE MADE MANIFEST TO THIS WICKED AND PERVERSE GENERATION entrenched in purposeful ignorance of THY TRUTH.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  18. Servant63

    As is evident in these post – we live in a society that we think we have all the answers and therefore make ourselves god by claiming that there is no God. Just by claiming something – does it mean it is true. Are you willing to bet your eternal life on your belief? You are... Don't take other people's word for your belief – search the truth for yourself... If you don't believe the bible, then search our other historical truths to find the answer. As one who has done this before I will tell you "Seach for the Truth and the Truth will set you free"... for those who are christians – remember Psalm 14:1 and what scripture tells us "it is the love of Christ that brings people to repentance" – not arguing with them and being hateful.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      I don't pretend to know either way, but the Christian god seems evil to me. Sending billions of people to be tortured forever in a burning hell throughout all eternity, simply for being raised in another faith. Can't you see how utterly stupid that is? No benevolent, loving god would send billions to be tortured forever. Christianity is a very sick religion.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Dean

      Josef Bleaus – you have a mean dog that keeps biting you no matter how nice you are to him.......Do you want him by your side or someplace else? Chances are you would probably shoot it yourself.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Ran

      Servant63 should study up on how the bible came to be. You'll find that your 'truth' isn't what you think it is. Christians know very little of their religion–just what the preacher tells them. I was shocked to learn what I did. It reminds me of The Wizard of Oz. 'Never mind the man behind the curtain!' Once you see what's behind Christianity's curtain, it forever changes your perspective. Christianity is a fear based religion– and you have nothing to fear but fear itself.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  19. LTM

    God was in Heaven on His throne. He didn't cause this tragedy to happen, but he allowed it to happen for a purpose. I don't attempt to know the mind of God so don't ask me what his purpose was. I wonder myself.

    If you would like to read about another story of tragedy and suffering, read the book of Job. It may give some perspective on where God is when evil is at work.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Observer


      As you said, God is on his throne (doing nothing) when it happened.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      An imaginary being on an imaginary throne. When will people wake up and stop believing in ancient fairytales?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • gagal

      In the book of Job, God was in on the whole deal....letting it happen to prove a point.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • One one

      Yeah, great story. God messes with some poor guy to win a bet he made with Satan. IMO, it's repulsive.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  20. Texan

    Man has free will and therefore can choose to do evil. Man's actions have consequences. Unfortunately, those consequences can affect the just (innocent) as well as the unjust (guilty). Why is it that we want free will to do what we want but we want God to be there to spare us the consequences of our actions? As a result of free will, God allows us to sometimes feel the consequences of our choices – and sometimes those choices affect more than just us. It rains on the good and the bad.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214
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.