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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:

Lenny
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.

Kyle
"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:

Harleyxx
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. lee

    arthurp i wish he would show u

    July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  2. Scholar

    Those who seek to have a ban reinstated on assault weapons might say that the massacre was God's message to lobby for tighter laws on gun sales.

    Those who defend the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms might say that the massacre was God's message to arm each person.

    One wonders if the local SWAT team would be happier if everyone were armed in such a situation. How would they distinguish friend from foe?

    July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      " How would they distinguish friend from foe?"

      Lets see...one person wearing head to toe body armor while the others are taking cover while returning fire would be a pretty clear indication.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Tom

      Do they do that now? Seems like I read an awful lot of stories about police officers shooting unarmed suspects, or killing innocent people when unnecessarily chasing suspects at high speeds.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  3. Matt

    If only everyone in the world believed in the Flying Spaghetti Monster instead of taking His name in vain and wore their pirate regalia as He wishes, none of this wouldn't have happened.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • sam

      ...R'amen.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  4. EasyTiger

    I think the focus is on the wrong things here. I believe in God. I believe that He didn't go anywhere. I believe that bad things happen and that tragedy is not evidence that God isn't real. Unless you are willing to admit that the beautiful things in life are evidence that he is.

    To this day I carry a reminder of a friend that died in Virginia Tech. I'd known him and his family my whole life. I know the suffering and pain of losing someone like this. And I think of him and his family often because each little milestone is a fresh reminder of how much he's missed. But there was a lot of small miracles that day too. A lot of heroism. I just know that at the worst of times, the best of humanity comes out too. And I'd hate for our focus on 'where is God when bad things happen' overshadow the miracles, love and decency that also exists.

    Where is the online dialogue about the heroes of that night? Or the way others have poured themselves out to help? Don't use this as an opportunity to be contentious about other's belief system – even if you don't agree with it. It's demeaning.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Tom

      Good point, EasyTiger. Thanks for pointing out the heroes and the good things that occurred. Nowadays we only focus on horror and creating conflict, not the bravery, sacrifice and love that was displayed by victims, responders and others that night.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  5. Michael Nelson

    Where was "God" Uhhhhh, which "god" are people thinking of? Zeus? Ra? Jupiter? Amun? Allah? Santa Claus? Or any other male figure no one you know has ever ACTUALLY seen or heard. It's just so sad that the misguided believers writing to this type of situation childishly believe it's that "christian god" who has - or doesn't have - a hand in this tragedy. They want to find some feebleminded way to explain away this "god's" behavior, or lack thereof. The problem isn't religious - it's secular. It's this declining country's centuries old fixation on violence as a way to express our will. We've killed Indians, slaves, Northerners, Southerners, Phillippinos, Iraqi's, you name it - by the millions. Why don't Canada and England (very siimilar countries/cultures) have nowhere near this type of insanity? 12 died in the theater. 24 MORE died that SAME day from gun violence in the U.S. Gotta love the NRA and other backward, reactionary activists. They will literally fight to the death to...prevent us from fighting each other to death.

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

      Couldn't have said it any better.
      I am glad someone wasn't afraid to go where you went with your comment.
      I only wish more people were on the same page

      July 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • dwassllir

      Great Post!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  6. ken s.

    Where was God? He was busy fighting satan to keep the 13th person from being killed.

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

      Yeah. Thats it.....does your fantasy make you feel warm and fuzzy?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  7. AV

    God is believe and trust. Those who are not with us today, god love them more and may be their purpose being on this earth was over. All others we have unfinished tasks still to be completed and have some more time to be on this planet. May be it is the hardest test and worst time of life but it may be God's way of testing our believes and trust in him.Those who lost their loved ones will be reunited again in next life or other. May god bless us all.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  8. TOMG

    OURSELF FATHER AND MOTHER IS THE DAILY LIVING REALITY GOD , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  9. RELIGION SAYS

    GOD HAS CREATED THE WORLD WITH SET PRINCIPLES OF NATURE SO THAT THE WORLD CAN FUNCTION WITH A PURPOSE.
    THE PRINCIPLES ARE STATED IN THE RELIGIOUS BOOKS. THESE ARE LIKE MATH FORMULAS. IF THE PRINCIPLES ARE VIOLATED THERE IS A CORRECTION THAT TAKES PLACE TO FIX THE SITUATION. GOD IS NOT DOING ANYTHING. HE HAS PROCEDURES IN PLACE THAT MUST BE FOLLOWED OR YOU HAVE A QUALITY PROBLEM. A CORRECTIVE ACTION HAS TO BE TAKEN TO KEEP HIS CREATION GOING. SORRY –THATS HOW THE WORLD WORKS. HOW DID THIS GUY GET INSANE? FIND OUT WHAT WHEN WRONG - OR WAS HE JUST A RANDOM DATA POINT IN A NORMAL DISTRIBUTION OF GODS DESIGN? WAS HE OUT OF 99.73 % OR 3SIGMA? WHILE OUR SOCIETY MAY PUNISH HIM SEVERELY, AN ANALYSIS OF SOCIETAL VALUES IS NEEDED BY COLLECTING HUGE AMOUNTS OF HISTORICAL DATA AND COMPARING TO WHAT THE RELIGION STATES–IN SIMPLE TERMS –KEEP IT SWEET AND SIMPLE–

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

      RELIGION SAYS – Math Formulas? You are reaching buddy

      July 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Stephen

      Huh?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      things written in those religious texts were not written by god. They were written by men, the edited by more men to control ppl, get wealthy and convert pagans. Learn the history of your religion please.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  10. dwassllir

    So let me get this right... for 10's of 1000's of years, humans worshiped multiple Gods and these Gods answered them in the form of mantra or scalded them with natural disasters for 10,000+ years... until 2000 years ago when the real God showed up and revealed himself to only by one God , well broken into 3 parts, and then he disappears again? And you people actually buy that? I'm beginning to think monkeys have a better chance at the future then humans do at progressing.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  11. R.C. Jones

    We've told God to get out of our schools, get out of gov't, in fact .........just leave us alone. So He does, and then when some thing awful happens, the same people say "how could a loving God let this happen?" Simple....you asked Him to leave you alone, and He did...not His fault someting happened...maybe it's ours for telling Him to go away.

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

      Thanks for confirming that we're more powerful than god.

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

      Wait, hang on. I thought God was everywhere? Do you mean he's only where the law allows prayer, or the right symbols are hung on the walls? Can someone link the official rules?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah...I guess we hurt his feelings, so now we're headed for doom or something...okay.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  12. marcelo melo

    Where was GOD? please, give-me a brake. So, let's see this way. " Where was the Police or where was the FBI? " Don't be stupid Mr Dan Gilgoof.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • mi5150

      Police and FBI claim to be omnipotent? Like, nothing happens, not a sparrow falls without our say-so?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  13. Chris

    Anyone saying there is no such thing as God, yet refers to evil ignors the question: "why is there evil?" While my heart breaks for those who suffered and continue to suffer from this tragedy, one need only look to Syria (and other world conflicts past and present) to even begin understanding the trouble we’ve cast upon ourselves. We have been at war with each other throughout recorded history. Study astronomy and earth science in order to appreciate the thin line we balance our existence and then simply write it off – as if “good & evil” were merely the result of one of many cosmic explosions that shook the galaxies billions of years ago. We want to blame something or someone for our failures; we've been doing it since the beginning of time. If all embraced the teachings of God, bloodshed through hatred wouldn't take place and we all would be at peace, despite our diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Why would we not embrace this?

    July 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Then why is it that those who embrace God the most seem to do the most killing and hating in his name?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  14. nocoincidence

    people keep asking "where was God?" yet they still put the names of the victims on crosses in their honor. we may not why this happened but we can't blame all of our problems on a person that not everyone believes exists. whether you are a man of faith or not, this is a reality check to all of us, we need to get things back under control. our country is quickly falling and we need to reinstate the gun laws and react quickly when people ask for help.

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

      Criminals don't abide by laws. Hearts changed by Christ is what is needed. Whether you believe it or not God exists and so does Satan. Choose who you will follow and if it's not the God of the bible, the one you can access through Christ, then you will follow a powerless fake. This country prospered under the God I speak of; that is a fact. Face it, now that a majority have turned away from God you can fully expect things to get worse; doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  15. TOMG

    EVERY SECOND , EVERY DAYS , EVERY MINUTES , EVERY HOURLY , EVERY WEEKS , EVERY MONTHLY , EVERY YEARS THOUGHT OF GOD THAN GOD WILL AUTOMATICALLY WILL BE COMING TO RESCUE , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • LIL JON

      WHAT?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  16. Danny

    So, it's gods will? OK. I'll bite. I guess that the nazi party was gods will also, since he was just cleansing the world of the christ killers. Puhlease! Good and bad has been around long before religion started brainwashing the masses.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  17. iiyt

    God does not exist. Silly debate.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  18. God

    I let this happen to watch you outlaw everything in fear. You humans put on a good show.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  19. Taegh

    I am disappointed with CNN for posting this. I am disconnecting the CNN channel and will never again return to this website.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • troy

      CNN and the main stream media have done nothing but try to Politcise this horrible event. If they arent calling for gun reform, bashing god, or blaming everyone else except the SOB who did this. They are pumping up Obama and lieing about Romney. We have 105 days and hopefully we can put this country back on the right track. God bless you all!

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

      you kidding? religion articles always end up pulling everyone in.... guess its a way to blow off steam ...vent anger.....because this act makes no sense.. to anyone, no matter which side of the fence you re on.... people are angry...

      July 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  20. ArthurP

    Two hands working will accomplish more than a thousand clasp in prayer.

    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.