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. AH

    Where is God when you get up early in the morning and decide to stay home to read the newspaper instead of going to bible-preaching church to hear God's voice?
    Where is God on weekends when you decide in engaging in all sorts of revelry, lasciviousness, and lustful pleasures instead of bending your knee in prayer to seek his will in your life?
    Where is God when someone approaches you to share God's message of love and forgiveness but you only feel uncomfortable because someone is encroaching your personal space and bringing up an uncomfortable subject?
    This question is like the cardiac patient who consistently neglects the doctor's advice, refuses to change his/her diet, never exercises, sees a doctor but once every five years, and then blames the doctor for not showing up immediately to save him/her from a heart-attack.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Bo Darville

      These people got murdered because they didn't pray to your imaginary friend enough? Think of all the 4 letter words that would be censored from this site and apply them to yourself.

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

      Well said Bo. Some people will never be able to see past it all...no matter how advanced we become.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  2. Sarah

    "So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?" Stephen Hawking – Why does everything need a reason? Crazy man killed lots of people. Blame him, he's the reason.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  3. WakeUpPeople

    I can't say it any better or clearer than so many others have already on this thread. There is no god and never has been. It's comforting to see the slow shift in our society towards more rational thinking as the percentage of non-believers continues to grow more rapidly than ever. Many of us have never had a voice until the proliferation of the internet, but the playing field has been somewhat leveled now and more people than ever have the tools and ability to research for themselves and decide what makes sense. Maybe religion will always have it's place in society for a number of reasons and people that need/want to believe it. But for me, there's not the slightest doubt in my mind that all we have is each other here on earth. Your best bet is to enjoy your time here, be kind to your fellow man and don't waste your life worshiping fairy tale characters that don't exist. Innocent people died in theater #9 which is def a tragedy..just like the other countless tragedies that happen every single day to good people that don't deserve it. Let's put it behind us and try to learn as much as we can from it instead of bringing religion into it and wasting our time.

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

    i dont no why people would comment like that very sad dawga2010

    July 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  5. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  6. Pilgrim

    Hey Harleyxx You are absolutely Right

    July 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  7. Jkzaw

    God was sipping sweet tea with King Friday in Imagination Land.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  8. Ordinary Average American

    America's politicians have succeeded in completely dividing America right down the middle on every conceivable issue, including religion, gun control, health care, immigration, the deficit, defense spending, education . . . everything! We aren't accomplishing anything in the USA anymore because we can't agree to disagree (if we're paying attention at all) and the politicians continue to get paid very generous salaries for DOING NOTHING other than watching America crumble!

    It's going to get worse on every issue until the people UNITE and identify and stand-up against the forces that are killing America in every way!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  9. Bootyfunk

    there is no god. grow up. think for yourself.

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

      God, an invisible friend for grownups. Stole it from a movie but it works just fine for me.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  10. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  11. Danny

    I think god was watching Ted in another auditorium.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  12. Patrician

    The key term here is "metaphysical libertarianism," which essentially means that humanity is basically its own master. No deity forces or "wills" humans behave in a certain way; we ourselves choose how we act-and God, if He exists, generally does not interfere with living humans.

    Indeed, it seems that for some people, shunting the blame onto the Spirit World whenever a human commits an atrocity presents a convient and facile way to avoid addressing man-made social problems in our own.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      So are you a part of the "God is Dead" crowd, or are you one of the "God is kicking back and watching us like TV" group?

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

      I am part of the 'God probably exists but evidently doesn't interfere with living humans" crowd.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  13. Susan

    There is no God. We created him for good and bad to describe everything we have had no other means to understand. Mankind is at a crossroads today where we could throw off God as no longer needed BUT we CANNOT leave an empty vacuum where he satisfied so much. We have to create and believe in a new purpose and direction that is real to our lives and no longer imaginary and 2,000 or 20,000 years old built on imagination only. We also desperately need to give up on all greed.

    Nature and life and is so easy to understand and accept from the perspective of the universe and how insignificant we are in it. We are still in it. And for all we know at this point we may become star faring in our galaxy one day. We have to believe that much or all that has happened will be for not when our Sun burns out.

    There is no fear, no threat, no heaven, no hell. But a new huge purpose and belief for our future.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  14. Bobo

    Sorry, there was a baseball game he had his eye on..Guy can't be EVERYWHERE! Geez!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  15. yuighkg

    Lets set aside the god exists/does not exist question. Lets just assume he/she/it exists for this post.

    Where was god? There are only 2 possibilities.

    1) A hands off god. People live their lives and make their own fate. If this is true, then god was there, he may or may not have cared, but it doesnt matter either way.

    2) An everything is gods will god. In this case he is a cruel piece of crap that deserves neither your worship, your pity, or anything else from you. He may or may not exist, but again it doesnt matter. A god who purposefully makes people suffer just because of some grand plan deserves nothing from me. Im not going to worship them, and im certain not going to praise them. I would rather burn in hell and stick by my principle then worship such a piece of crap. I cant imagine a being that would plan out all the horrible things in this world, regardless of what grand plan they have. If they are all powerful that grand plan could be achieved without the suffering. Such a being gets absolutely no respect from me.

    I can at least respect the first god. One might ask why a all powerful being would allow suffering to happen. But just because you are powerful does not give you the right to play god, even if you are god.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • matt in nw

      good post:)

      July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Oh boy

      Your wasting your time, these biblethumpers have no idea what they are talking about and that isn't going to end anytime soon

      July 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • shawbrooke

      There is a third alternative. A God who gave humans free will and sometimes humans choose poorly. People want God to control everything except of course, themselves. When trouble like this comes, people want a vending machine God to fix things but otherwise stay out of their lives. That's not free will. If people freely choose to go their own way, then humanity faces the consequences. People get into less trouble individually and as a group if as individuals and as a community they try to do Godly things. Any takers?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  16. Panthiest

    I can see how this would be considered lazy reporting by CNN, but I think its an interesting social experiment asking American's the age old question of, "why would a good God let bad things happen to his own creations."

    Personally I am sad to see so many clinging to the irrational beliefs of God having anything to do with this at all. Blaming society for its lack of God in school and other nonsense will only deflect attention from the real questions: Why and how this happened and taking steps to never let this happen again.

    A simple explanation as to why God would let this happen...? God doesn't exist.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  17. bibi

    I have just realized that when a "good" person dies, people say, where was God, but noone says that when a "bad" person dies. Does God love certain people and not others? I think the answer is no. I think the thief is just as valuable to God as the saint. God does not love the way we love...thank goodness. The Bible says that "For God so loved the world," not certain people only. So I say all that to say this, when we ask the question where is God, we should know that God is always where He has always been which is ever present, but don't forget that Satan and his forces of darkness also dwell among us. Therefore, good and bad will exist until all evil is destroyed from the world when Christ comes again (a date that no one but God has knowledge of by the way). Have we forgotten that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God"? Bad things happen to good people because we are living in a corrupt world, plain and simple. Should God control all aspect of our lives or just the parts that we approve of? I don't think I want to serve a God that controls everything. That would make God a dictator. The question we should all be asking ourselves is not where is God, but what am I doing to serve Him and prepare for His return whether I live for 10 years or 100 years. That is the whole purpose of mankind...to keep God's commandments and to serve Him.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • shalom

      Well said! God bless you tremendously! shalom

      July 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  18. 1914

    I like how everyone is trying to give God's P.O.V. like they just had coffee with him. Why should anyone believe what any imperfect human has to say about anything when it comes to God's viewpoint on this matter?

    As the founder of Christianity, Jesus himself never spoke from his own thinking but quoted scriptures when answering questions... Who are we to think that this does't apply to us????

    2Timothy 3:16 – Enough said!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  19. TOMG


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

      Dude I have asthma, quit stressing me out

      July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  20. HA

    God? I thought it was the Easter Bunny maybe Santa was there instead. Not sure how these characters work

    July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Nah. It was the tooth fairy who was hanging out and invisibly flipping everyone who got shot the bird. She's a royal bee-yotch.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:20 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.