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)

    PEOPLE, PEOPLE! Obviously this had nothing to do with God. Our minds are easily influenced and I think that it was really just this guy watching the movie Rampage one too many times, because he did like the exact same thing. Also, even if God was real, it says in the Bible that he is all-knowing. If he is all-knowing, then he wouldn't have changed what happened, and if he did, then he would have been changing his mind, which implies that he in fact ISN'T all-knowing, because he would have just had it that way in the first place. So, considering the tiny possibility that there is a God, you have a choice between him either wanting those peopleto get shot, or not being all-knowing.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Yeah. He never changed his mind and interveaned like in the bible....wait....stupid God.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  2. John

    This is the dumbest thing that CNN has ever done...which is saying something. Even if there is a God, why would you think that he would save the "good" people? What is your definition of "good?" Everybody dies, no one gets special treatment because they believe in some imaginary person

    July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Yes. Good people.....who bring infants to midnight showings of Batman.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  3. The Jackdaw

    There is no God. Stop wondering where your immaginary friends are, put the big boy pants on and take care of things yourselves. Stop reacting out of fear and stop waiting for others to save you.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  4. Nestor

    Just because unfortunate events and tragedies occur in the world does not mean that an all-powerful and kind God, such as the God that many of us believe in, does not exist. It also does not necessarily mean that God allowed for this tragedy to occur. If God was truly all-powerful and kind, then we would instinctively ask why does God not destroy all evil in the world. However, this would conflict with the free will that we assume God meant for us to have. If God were to free all of us from evil thoughts, then where would our free will be? He would be making a world without suffering, but the price would be our free will. This is why it is illogical to believe that God can create a world without evil and at the same time preserve our free will. Instead, I believe God allows us to learn how to be kind on our own in order to also allow us to preserve our free will. It is analogous to parenting: it is difficult for parents to watch their children go out to the world because they know that they will suffer at one point. However, they also know that if they always shield their children from suffering, their children will never grow into independent and responsible adults. The parents know that they must simply watch their children grow and hope that the education that they gave to them will guide them through life and help them to make the right decisions.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  5. Flavio Montes

    If you have to ask where was God, no answer will ever be enough. God bless you.

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

      If you don't ask where's god, you've shut off the mind he allegedly gave you.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  6. Mohammad A Dar

    Our creator created us in his image, with gift of choice, way in wrong choice is of human, our creator has nothing to do with it, except to permit it as a lesson in wrong choice. Lay it on your self, not the one who granted us freedom of choice to hide our own shortcomings.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  7. Robyn Kord

    What I don't understand about the whole GOD thing is that when something good happens (like someone winning a grammy or lottery...or someone that lived through this autrosity in Colorado)...they THANK GOD.

    But when something bad happens, no one blames him. Why are people thankful to GOD for the good but when the bad happens, it's because of Free Will...Really??

    Can't say either way anything good or bad about god...never met him or know anyone else who has. But I can say that when something good or bad happens in my life, it's because of my actions or inactions!!

    You make your own path!! If I happen to meet god when I go, I will ask why he created such a f***ed up world!!

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

      He gets all the credit and none of the blame.

      He's like an overspoiled oversensitive child. He aught to take some responsibility.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  8. Adam

    Obviously, god wasn't there because god doesn't exist. However, if I am wrong and god exists, then god CHOOSES to let people die in AGONY, and gleefully wreaks havoc upon innocent children. Therefor, god is evil. Given the options, I'm hoping I'm correct and there is no god, rather than have our universe run by some maniacal, sadistic evil brute of a deity.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  9. sean

    God gave us choice. He told us the rules. We all have to answer for what we do in the end.

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

    God did not allow this to happen. God doesn't not allow or disallow anything to happen. He does not intervene because he loves you.

    The one true gift God gave every man was free will. The ability to choose their own path. This is his greatest gift.

    I believe that all people are connected. If God were to intervene and prevent the people who caused events like Columbine, 9/11, Aurora or any other tragic event throughout history from doing so, he would have taken away their free will. And again, since we are all connected, he would of had no choice but to remove every persons free will. He can not be selective in this manner.

    His hope, when creating man and giving them free will, is that one day everyone would see this fact and live their lives accordingly .

    One day I hope we can.

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

      Yeah right on, everybody gets to choose their own path.

      Except for the people with severe mental illness. Except for the people born with paralysis. Except for infants he lets die in their sleep. Except for 3 year olds he gives lukemia. And on and on.

      But keep making excuses for the guy.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  11. tim

    Which god does this article refer too? There have been about 3,700 Gods on record since the beginning of recorded history. You mean not one of them stepped up to save those poor people?

    Oh, your talking about Jesus, the socialist hippy who preached about taking care of the poor and loving each other? Sorry, he wasn't really God, in fact there is nothing on recorded history about him being supernatural until the first gospels were written in Greek 300 years after his existence. That's right, a bunch of people made up the mythology of Jesus and created a religion, much as how the mythology was created for the other 3,699 Gods that man has created.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  12. P

    Face reality. There is NO GOD that controls anything. Life is random and you are taught right and wrong by your parents. Religion is the MAIN cause of ALL wars and battles throughout time. There are people who are just sick and have mental issues in this world. Every species has "defects". JH was one of those and the poor people who died were a random result of that. Religious people ALWAYS blame the devil or man's "free will" to explain why GOD didn't intervene. He didn't intervene because HE isn't real.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  13. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  14. alex

    Whether you believe in God or not, it is a question that CANNOT be answered. If you think you can answer it with any kind sense or accuracy, you are a fool.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  15. bas

    This discussion is just proof that to many people God is no different than the cops; someone whose presence makes us nervous even if we are not misbehaving, someone whose presence we don't want when we are misbehaving, and yet someone we call on when we are in trouble and someone we blame if things didn't turn out the way we feel they should have.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  16. sean

    It should be pointed out that all of the founding fathers for the united states were Christian. They didnt do too badly when creating this Christian state we live in. Condemn the wrongs that men do on the men who do them and not the beliefs that got us all to where we are.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Many of the most significant were Deists. Look up the historical significance and keep in mind that it was a code word for atheism.

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

      Ben Franklin was an atheist.

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

      revisionist history I have no interest in.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Tiffany

      Founding fathers were NOT christian. They escaped from Europe to seek religious FREEDOM. this country was not founded "under God". That was the American's answer to being called communists in the 1940s. There was no under god in anything and it wasnt added to money until the 1950s. America was fine for a few hundred years before God was put in the picture. Seems like it all went downhill from there.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  17. JJ


    July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  18. Erik

    You religious folks are nut cases. God doesn't exist. If heaven is filled with a god like that, I'd rather sit on a bar stool in hell.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  19. morgan

    God has nothing to do with this..... HE who you should be talking about is evil WHICH IS THE DEVIL......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so dissapointed that CNN will even allow this to be seen on web!!! just disgusting

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

      typical "excuse" from a religious person. The "devil" is always your go to excuse when your almighty god has failed you.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  20. BillDee

    People that believe in God and or/part of an organized religion are mentally ill, brainwashed and all are victims of generational and ancestral peer pressure. It's all mythological and medieval b.s. conceived as mind control for the masses.
    The more religious/devout .. the more serious the degree of mental illness – and the backlash and outcries from these comments will further serve to illustrate the points.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Food4Thought2

      I'd be curious to learn what you believe in.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Word religion does not exist in Hebrew, Aramaic or Arabic languages, religions are handiwork of hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, secular s by corruption of truth absolute to make humanity their gentiles, slaves.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • James Petty

      BillDee: I do believe in god and his son Jesus Christ. In the end, one of us will be wrong. I would rather have gone through life living the teachings of Jesus, being kind to others, taking care of the weak, sick and scarred, than living one minute as a boorish, person taking pot shots at those who do not believe as I do. Having said that, God Bless you and have a nice day.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      You missed important thing, BE A GENTILE SLAVE TO A hINDU JEW,criminal self centered , secular. Hallmark of hindu Mithra ism, savior ism, labeled as Christianity to hind, fool humanity.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:36 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.