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. K

    There is no god.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  2. LS

    God is not a super hero coming at the peoples command. We are suppose to listen to him not him to us. People in now a days don't even want God around just when they need help. I don't think God wants to be treated like that. Not even a super hero would come save people, if the people hated him. People don't want God they want a genie....
    One thing though if the super hero got some praise here he comes so what about God's praise?

    July 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  3. Kboogie

    Read the Bible people and it will explain it all. God has and will always be in control. You can't blame God, the one thing He gave us control of is our ability to make choices. He knows exactly what we are going to do before we ever decide to do it, but we also have the ability to decide not to do something sinful. The actions of the world; all of it, politics, violence, failed marriages, mass molestation, the lying, the cheating-individuals and company wise, the poor getting poorer, the rich getting richer is spoken in His word- in the Bible part of the plan of the Lord...period and believe it or not, there is more to come; yep it gets worse. I suggest those who do not know Him, attend a very Bible base Bible study and learn something, establish you own relationship with the Lord for yourself before it is too late.

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

      You mean read some made up book made from people way back in the old days that did not understand anything at all about the world or around them? I'm sure if i went back in time with a bunch of the technology we have today and i would have a book written about me passed through the ages, "The man who appeared from no where". And of course the world is going to get worse over time, look at what were doing to it. And not everything is a happy ending. But enough, imma go attend my Aliens abduct Witches study then after that i have werewolf dissecting.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  4. CG

    Some of these comments are very sad. I can understand agnosticism. A smart person always questions what is right and what is reasonable. I simply cannot understand atheism though, the religious belief that there simply is no god, that the universe and all its wonders had a supernatural cause, one beyond our current comprehension, but which absolutely did not involve a presence or an intelligence. Atheism is very unscientific as it adamently and faithfully discounts a possibility which we are in no position to measure.

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

      it's similar to the belief that the world was flat, because we didn't have the scientific knowledge to "know" that the planet was round.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • lee

      Atheism isn't necessarily the "belief that there is no god." The prefix "a" means without or lack of. Theism, as you know, is a belief in a god or gods. So athiesm is really just a lack of belief in a god or gods and not always an active belief that they don't exist.

      I am agnostic because I don't know, but I am also an atheist because I lack belief in all of the gods with which I have been presented. If evidence were to emerge in favor of one god or another, I am willing to change my position.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • lee

      I would like to add that atheism doesn't require any faith. It is the default position to the question of whether or not there is a god. You are an atheist with respect to every other god, but it doesn't take faith to disbelieve in them, does it?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Brixzz

      First my freind, atheism is not a religious belief... duh!!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  5. PumpNDump

    The whole "god" and "jesus" thing is a myth and only cretins believe otherwise.

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

      at least the we "cretins" have something to believe in, some kind of faith. i believe in that "myth" as you so kindly put it and if you had done your research you would too.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  6. theliu92

    God was there, but did not intervene through the way we might have wanted. So far we have heard stories of bravery where boyfriends and parents risked their lives to protect the ones they loved. Was God not in them? Where there is an act of love, God is present because God was the first to show us love by giving us freedom. With that said, what we do with that freedom is a whole different story. James Holmes chose to kill with that privilege. But now let's ask ourselves what would happen if God always intervened. We would not be free to live the way we want, and we would not be able to see how much we need a God who loves us if we never falter. The truth is, each and every one of us is evil. No one taught us how to lie, we just do it. To cover that up would make us lose our humanity.

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

      You seem to know God, so I'm surprised you didn't hear what I did. God said as loudly as he could that guns need to be controlled, or those who wish to do evil, and they will always exist, will be able to do evil on monumental scale. Then again, Satan controls the NRA, and Satan seems to be winning with people like you who pretend to know God.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • nocoincidence

      maybe its a kind of warning that our system is failing, when people tried to get help for him the issue was brushed aside to be dealt with later.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  7. tom

    People with religion tend to claim GOD is every where and knows everything as such everything happening in this world has always been in HIS plan. When good things/events occur they pray and thank GOD. On the other hand, when bad things/events occur, they tend to dis-associate GOD from those events claiming that it is the bad "free will" in people causing it, or it is caused by people's denial of GOD...bla! bla!!!!!!

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

      This is part of God's plan – he wants people to wake up and realize we need gun control. He is fighting the devil, and the devil controls the NRA. But God's self professed followers here are only focused on trying to use God against people they don't like and for their own personal wealth, so they are too busy telling God what to do, or telling others their own interpretation of His word, and asking for what they want to be able to hear his simple message.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  8. Just the facts

    Everyone who has not heard of it google the blue beam project. If this where to happen where would you stand?

    July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  9. Jon

    The bible was created thousands of years ago, uninformed people will believe anything. Perfect example is the Salem Witch Trials. Even relatively recently, people thought there were magical witches. People need to wake up from the illusion their parents painted for them since they were born. The only reason people still think God exists is because we aren't able to be scientifically certain what happens after we die. Everything else is explained. We don't have separate souls.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  10. Mike

    I feel this article explains it best. Found at this free informational wedsite – http://www.watchtower.org/e/200611/article_02.htm.

    It backs up the comments with very inforative scriptures that can be found in any bible.

    Thank you.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Your blog is terrible.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  11. Steve

    Where was God in Aurora massacre?
    He was at the same place when His Son was on the cross.

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

      Is non-existence a place?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  12. Jean Perrault

    There is NO GOD!!!!!....Men created God because they have to belive in something....when you're dead,you're dead!!!!..GAME OVER!!!!!...If ever there is a God,good,I will be really happy...but if there's no God,I wont be disappointed!!!!.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • The King Is Coming

      1. You've never died, you can't say for certain what happens after death.
      2. When you find out God is real, you won't be happy. There are no second chances after death. You reject Jesus Christ, you go to hell.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  13. Chances

    If the drum magazine did jam with another 50 or so bullets then you can say God did that. As for the first 50 bullets God was late. I can't believe no one else had a gun to shoot back. So If we are in a state of defense, now is the time to bear arms or art least have them in reach to protect our way of life!!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • db3

      The only rational discussion we should be having after this tragedy is about gun control in this country. I'm guessing, however, that a large percentage of people in the GOD fearing, red states, don't really want to have that discussion. And for those of you who want to post something about "prying your guns from your cold, dead hands... I'd be happy to.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  14. Greg

    If there is a supreme being out there that is responsible for our creation and our succession into the afterlife...he/she/it did not have any control over what happened in Aurora, Colorado. The fact is that mankind is extremely flawed and as a result we ultimately will not survive as a species. We will lead to our own demise rendering us extinct at some point in the future.

    Grim outlook. I know. Sorry, thiis is reality. Accept it and do the best you can to enjoy your time on this planet while you still have it. Every day above ground is a good day.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  15. Disbelief

    All Christians do is look for excuses to why their "God" doesn't display himself. They believe in a book written thousands of years ago that is nothing more than fairy tales. Do they not even think for a moment that kings and leaders of the time would have changed the bible as they saw fit. The "faith" is nothing more than a creation for unintelligent people to use as an explanation for things they cannot explain. People thank God when things go their way, but are just as quick to blame God when things do not go they way they would have hoped. We as a nation are no better than the Nazis' when we are invading and persecuting people that have different believes than us. Christians' constantly crack jokes about Muslims' beliefs that they will die and go to heaven with a ton of virgins. How come other people are not allowed to have beliefs except Christians? If any of these people were the ones in the movie theater or the ones in the twin towers, they would be shouting and wondering where their God was to save them, as if they're better than anybody else. When we die, no matter our beliefs, we all go to the same place. THE GROUND.

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

      disbelief, explain ghosts then...

      July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Jean Perrault

      RIGHT ON!!!!!!....

      July 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  16. Jon

    God is there for those who listen... but in reality, what do you expect? you only want God there when something wrong happens or you're on hard times. do you praise him when things are going well? likely not. but when things go wrong, he is the first to curse. as for our country, it is the people that are choosing to get God out of schools, hotels, court houses, etc... why then turn around and ask where was God when this happened?

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

      PROVE IT.

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

      1. no need to yell
      2. disprove it

      July 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • lee

      Jon – the burden of proof is on the positive claim. You claim, "God is there" among other things. This puts the burden of proof on you. Saying "disproove it" is like saying "I know you are but what am I"

      July 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • theliu92

      I thank God for every thing in my life. Small and big, good and bad. Our spiritual and physical strength grows when there is some kind of resistance. I may not be able to physically see God, but after following His word (the Bible) for practically my whole life, I can say I am a better person with Him than without Him, and I will never regret striving to be more humble and a better person.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  17. keeeleee

    We sinners kill each other. That's the result of rejecting God.
    God has sent his Son Jesus Christ for us. Anyone trusts in Jesus as his/her Savior will be able to conquer sin and evil that dominate the world right now. So, don't blame God. He has given us solution. The question is that whether we accept His solution or not. If not, we can be certain that this kind of tragedy will happen again and again.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  18. Flappy

    I think I should point out that most progressives are devout Christians so blaming the Aurora shooting on God's wrath against "liberals" seems like a petty partisan tactic to me. Are there really that many people who still think that way in the 21st century? I certainly hope not.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  19. Unknown

    God doesn't exist, simply. Let me ask you something. If we had the technology we do now, back in the old days when religion began and people were more intelligent as they are today, do you really think religion would have been made? Do you think the bible would have been made? Back in those days, there was no technology, nothing. All they had was religion and myths like witches, vampires and such. So that's all they did back than, religion. BUT, like i said, if the beginning of mankind had technology we did today and people were just as smart as they are today, religion would have not been made. It's like a made up fairytale passed on through the ages, like any other myth.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  20. virginia

    How come we all can see and agree on the fact that there is evil in Holmes actions, some like to think Holmes is evil himself, othr prefer to difirianciate between individual an actions...but we all agree on, disagreeing wiht Holmes judgment on his fellow people a round him...we all agree on being ok to judge othes for their actions that exactly what Holmes did he jedged other for action the human behavior as a society...then why we accect our judment and not Holmes judgement on us,,,it's cause this time someone else other then oneself is doing the judging and the punishement is sever, Holmes came to the conclution that his punisment to every one around him was fair and carry out his actions accordingly...we judge and he judged us what make it ok for us to judge him no not ok for him to judge us????

    July 25, 2012 at 3:04 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.