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. Thony S Jean-Baptiste

    GOD is not allow massacre, you human did, why when you a stupid choice of killing each others and you always say where was GOD, GOD creed human with freedom of choice, GOD didn't force no one, suffering didn't come from to GOD, suffering come from to you human being, you choose to touch and eat to follow the bigger LIAR satan and the same time you human choosing your own suffering, stop saying where was GOD on your own choice of suffering, GOD IS GOOD, you all human like me we stupid not to follow GOD WORD and follow satan word and you all became sinners, whatever happen now in this earth, killing each others, is your own fault not GOD, you know the BEST, BLESS WONDERFUL MAN CAME was dying in THE CROSS for you and me was choosing to follow not GOD WORD but satan word, ONLY BY JESUS CHRIST ONLY IF YOU ALL human BELIEVE even you die, if you BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST WHEN HIS COMING SOON, you will live forever, blame yourself, stop blame GOD on your own stupid choice... MAY GOD BLESS you all IN JESUS CHRIST NAME AMEN.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • matt in nw

      God, Big Plan, ... hello???

      July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Bo Darville

      You are a good sheep.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  2. Bill R

    Uncondational love allows freedom of choice or it is not uncondational. God is love. He dosent control.... America says freedom but we are the most controling in our relationships and call it love thus these things happen. It is called free will. And to unconditionally love free will must be present.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  3. Alicia

    Short answer, God was and is in Aurora. He never blinked. For the skeptics that are not familiar with God's plan, people suffer, even Christians... people die daily, you are going to die. Question is, are you prepared?.

    It's sad to think that the secular world "expects" a God to combat all evil. Again, read, study and get into his word and you'll know his plan for mankind, then, you will understand how it's people that make choices relative to Gods word that dictate evil..... not God. He just made the rules, we either follow them or don't.

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

    Why is it that when 'miracles' happen God gets the credit, but when tragedies occur he doesn't get the blame? People believe what makes them feel better...less afraid of life. The humans that wrote the bibles, etc. counted on it.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  5. Andrew

    God was in the shooter's hands. Where else would God be?

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

    God makes it clear in the Bible that he has created both good and evil. (Isa 45-7) The concept of "free will" was not around when the Bible was written and neither can it exist with a divine influence by nature. I however do not follow this theology.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  7. Andy

    Where was God in Aurora massacre?

    We as a nation have apparently asked him to leave. I'll not recount how. So we should not be surprised if he was not there. But he was, and IS, at least to those who wanted him there.

    The better question is: "Where were we, when God asked us to be somewhere?". Or "what did we do, when God asked us to do, or not do something?". And finally, "Will we allow God to bring about a greater good out of this terrible tragedy?".

    He can, if we let him. Let us let him.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • matt in nw

      we are right here.... He's the one with all the abilities... not us.... remember?

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

      You're making it sound like we're more powerful than god.

      Good job.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  8. christians are dumb

    christians are dumb

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

      I hear that.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You mean like George Lematre was dumb?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  9. God

    I was out having a taco. I can't be everywhere at once. What, I can? Oops, my bad.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Dr.Diamond

      – You are free to believe as you please, it's call free will not God's will. A fool say's there is no God and we humans created ourselves. The time will come we they will see just how foolish they are. We worship everything our hands made, but the things God made we humans can't touch. And we better pray that GOD does not consume us for our foolish ways. All GOD has to do to stop us in our tracks is to tell the sun not to shine, that would be the end of the human race.

      -Dr.Diamond 2012 A.D.

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

      No way, dude. We know you were at Chick-Fil-A having a sandwich and freaking out about traditional marriage.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  10. gretchenj173

    There is evil in the world, no denying it. People choose to be helpful and kind, a few others choose to be self-centered and destructive.
    God's plan is for no evil, according to The Bible, yet some choose to defy that plan, hence the evil. So in the midst of the evil, God can be a comfort.
    But to say it's God's plan or God chose it (as some have said) disagrees with The Bible and what God is all about, as The Bible clearly shows. God's all about good relationships, giving and sharing, kindness. Many grasp that concept. The few who don't, including some in theology careers, have missed the point and likely have missed God.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  11. JW

    Religion has served it's purpose. In the early days of man, control and order was hard to achieve. Religion gave us that order with false thoughts of a man in the sky who would shake his finer at us if we broke his rules. People at the time were obviously not nearly as educated as today. We as a SPECIES have outgrown the need for religion. It is below us. But I thank it for what it has done, and wish it well in it's way back to archaic logic.

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

      I couldn't have said it better.

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

      Amen to that! 😉

      July 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yes just review the tower of babble this board is and it is easy to see just how far we have progressed

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

      Yeah, I don't care for religion either.... I know, call me weird but, I'll just stick to having my personal relationship with God on a daily basis..:-)

      July 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  12. Adolph Hitler

    I especially admire those parents who refuse to take their children to see a doctor when they are suffering.. And these parents tell their children that God will heal them.. Then, the children die,... And the parents say it was God's will....

    July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  13. SugarKube

    If you believe in God you most likely believe in the devil. Don't blame God for the devil's work.

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

      God created the devil.


      July 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  14. mysctkfp

    I'm sure this has been stated already.

    This is a classical philosophy of religion argument in the "Problem of Evil". If you presuppose a god that's 1. All powerful 2. All knowing and 3. Perfectly good, then you must diminish one of those properties or powers of god to explain "evil" in the universe. Examples: an all powerful god would have magically stopped Holmes. An all knowing god would have known Holmes would act menacingly and prevented it. A perfectly good god would just prevent evil. These are all contradictions to events that happen in the universe. Classic argument against this is that humans can not comprehend the divine. However you can not say something like that is true because it has yet to be proven false. The burden of proof is to provide truth to that claim.

    If you must believe in a god in this universe which as we speak is being explained and observed in naturalist terms, then the best you can do is an impersonal deity that no longer influences this universe.

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

      Not sure if it has been mentioned or not. But, your statement certainly warrants repeating. If it is ok with you, can I paste it on my Facebook?

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

      Yes – at best, wielding an absent hand.

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

      Sure, share away.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Your error is also classical. A "perfectly good God" cannot prevent evil because to do so requires the elimination of free will of the creature. That is not love, that is animation. Therefore, in order to be perfectly good, God must allow free will but also provide for redemption from evil in the event the creature chooses it.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • mysctkfp

      Free will has its own host of philosophical problems in terms of a god with those presupposed properties. An easy one is the evil of natural disasters where humans have no “will”. The usual argument for natural disasters is that demons cause them. Again not proven. However there are other natural proven explanations. We use to think demons caused sickness for example. The free will of a deity of these properties is also thrown out if it can only act in a “good” and “loving” way. You can even discuss “good” in a meta-ethic way. There are many more and in-depth discussions on this topic.

      Bottom line is… see how this is getting mucked up? If you throw out the supernatural then things are much simpler. We have to take a step to add in a supernatural and the best we can say anything about it is nothing and that it’s doing nothing.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  15. CHUCK

    to know good, you must know evil. To have sadness, you must know joy. ying-yang

    July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  16. believe

    God does not interfere with 'free will'. It is up to us as individuals to make a moral or inmaral decision. The 'good' and 'evil' that happens on earth is not his doing but it is that of our own!!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  17. Jane Baker

    Why is it we humans who were created with free will want to blame God for our own inability to do what we need to change society? So long as we put the responsibility on God instead of ourselves, these things will continue to happen. As I recall, the Lord's prayer calls us to help God achieve his will on this earth! God cannot do this without us! Unfortunately, our politicians, those we have elected to lead us, are turning their heads because they are more concerned about winning elections than changing gun laws. The NRA is their God! We must continue to protest this lack of leadership and try to make it impossible for anyone, sane or otherwise, to be able to purchase semi-automatic weapons, no questions asked.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  18. think about it


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


      July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Jamie

      First of all, why are you YELLING. Furthermore, if there is a god, and trust me, there isn't, why would he trouble himself with what we watch? Why would an omnipotent being create us, then test us, then get angry at us when we plant 2 seeds in the same lot or mix wool and linen? Why would the creator of the universe do anything that he knew would upset him? Why...cause there is no god, that is why. Get used to it.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  19. 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 there 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 3:01 pm |
    • sam

      Welcome to Jessie's world: Idiot Logic 101.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  20. Humaniy

    God may exist, but what happened was caused by a man. A man who has mental issues. Humans by nature are violent, we are animals after all. The Bible and other religious books were all written by man; greedy, selfish men. They preach goodness and love, but many religious people are semi-racist, hypocritical, and are bigots. Look at the civil rights movement in the 1960's and you can see that. As humans controlling our own lives, we must not rely on an impossibly powerful being who is constantly controversial and fickle, but on ourselves. We must rely on ourselves to make the world better, and there will be suffering from time to time. It is only nature and we live in a dangerous world.

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

      not to mention the bible had slaughterings left and right

      July 25, 2012 at 3:03 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.