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. virginia

    Holmes was weak and gave in to temtation of judging all according to his on view– Holmes was not strong enough to hold back and let God be the judge...his weakness of character and hs lack on believe in God cause him to take mattter into his on hands...with tragic consecuences

    July 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      he was christian. presbyterian to be specific. His belief in god had nothing to do with it.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  2. Xav

    like Albert Einstein put it, these things happen because of the abscence of God, when people dont have God in their lives they reject good things and find justification for doing the wrong things. If things like this happen it is because people do not have God in their lives. Picture the world strictly, by their own free will and choice adhering to the ten commandments only and see what kind of World that would be, surely the shooting would never happen because people would not murder.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      I am an atheist and I do not kill people. Many of my friends have religious backgrounds but do not practice religion nor care if there is or isn't a god...and they don't kill people.
      Get real bozo.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Naija

      Much more evil than this have been done by people with faith in God

      July 25, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  3. beifirebird

    Finally, is God good? if He can prevent it why didn't He?
    I don't come near to have the full answer to this.

    However, I will tell you this much from personal experience ( I came from a background where one dear family member was murdered for NO reason).... so I believe I have the right to voice up in this issue... because I know

    You can always grab a kids hand whenever she tried to touch the fire though you just have TOLD HER the Tenth thousand time playing fire is very dangerous and can burn you.

    the result? your kid probably won't get hurt whenever you are around... but She would probably never came to realize playing fire is SO WRONG. and can harm her greatly.

    Now, if you for once let her touched the fire (of course you would be there to make sure no serious damage done , the lesson would be hard imprinted in her mind. the result? she probably would never touch fire bare hand EVER again.

    So has God told us "do not kill. Flee from evil. What's good, noble, lovely think upon those things. Not violent evil things many many many time? Has He also told us "love others; care for them. don't ignore those marginalized people? They are valuable too!!" many many many time?


    even times when He allowed an incredible evil make its way through life, HE WILL TURN THE TABLE AROUND AND CREATE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL OUT OF IT. such as the miracle story we heard, such as the story about people risking their life for their love one, such as people uniting against violence , such as people standing together praying and offering help to the family with loss.

    Those things bring back our mind to remember the value of love, of care, and their power.

    and hopefully, next time, when we see that odd kid in school where no one wants to play with, or that college student struggling with their own mind troubles, INSTEAD OF THINKING WHAT A WERIDO, AND WALK AWAY, we will care enough to talk to them, to make friends with them, bring them into a loving community to show them with actions thought the world we live in can suck ass sometimes, there are still great beauty in the world we live, so let us cherish each other and this world.

    .... i believe that's why God allowed things as such to happen. to teach us lesson and to remind us once again good from evil.....



    July 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      ".... i believe that's why God allowed things as such to happen. to teach us lesson and to remind us once again good from evil..... "
      Ah so a dead 6 year old girl is the price for a lesson in good vs evil. Weird ... if god had just given us a written test and the question on that test was "Is murdering a 6 year old girl a good thing or and evil thing" I'm thinking that 99% of those responding would say "evil thing". Lesson already learned ... we didn't need a refresher course

      July 25, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  4. Naija

    Just remember GOD is doing all this because he loves you so much,your pain is like fees to my local banks,He will invent more ways to get it out you.

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


    July 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  6. 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 3:26 pm |
    • sam

      Aw, troy, you're precious! You loved your comment to someone else's post so much that you needed to make it a separate post! You have such meaningful things to say, you little right wing nutjob! I would like to subscribe to your newsletter!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  7. Hick

    We kick God out of our government and schools teaching that there is no real truth, it is up to the individual to decide for himself what is right and wrong. We decide that anything we don't like in the Bible is just intolerance and can't be true so we ignore and ridicule it. Americans kill millions of children each year in abortions in the name of convenience and "womens rights" and NOW we wonder where HE was? You can't say that the man was evil or what he did was even wrong unless you use the Bible we have ignored for so long as a standard, according to our schools this was just a man exercising his Darwinian purpose.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • yeahalright

      What an egotistical, vain and hypersensitive deity you've imagined up for yourself.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  8. Woody

    There is no God or guardian angel to protect you but you have the right to believe how ever you want . Soldiers are given bibles and they die too . The reality is you are on your own if there is no one there to protect you and the bible is just a book and it too will not stop a bullet . Your survival is in your hands what you don't know can hurt you and I am sad so many people are taught more about oz than reality . Good luck out there we are mammals and cities are little more than concrete jungles full of mammals we call humans !

    July 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  9. blahblahblah

    The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh. If you believe in God at all, you believe that He gives life (if you don't believe in God, it's a waste of your time to continue reading), so it is not out of line for Him to take it back; it belongs to Him. When you understand that, you find it difficult to be angry with God, whether a loved one dies from cancer, old age, or a maniac shooting. People die everyday; we just get all upset when it happens to multiple people at time. The question shouldn't be "where was God in Aurora?" It should be, "Where is God in death, and why is there death to begin with?" Instead of coming up with your own unfounded answers, Christians should look into the Bible; it has the answers to many questions, including this one.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  10. annbradley

    You cannot ask a question like that and expect anything but word salad. There are millions of worshipped gods and billions of worshippers each with a personal opinion on what their god means, does, oversees, knows, etc. I'm a non believer so this question is the same to me as, "Where was the tooth fairy in the aurora massacre?"

    I believe those waiting to get commanded or demanded by a celestial overseer make life worse for everyone. Take pride in who you are, life is awesome, be glad we are here for the journey and live as if other people matter. They are our companions on this wonderful journey we were lucky enough to get to experience and we all deserve each other's care and love.

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

      Your math of "millions of gods" and "billions of believers for each" seems a bit funky.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  11. Cina Cruz

    I was raised as a Christian. but i have my own belief that from the moment you're born till the day you die us humans have been mentally brainwashed to believe that there is a "Higher Above" as well as a 'Demon Below" or a "Boogie Monster" in the closet. Because if we dont believe in Higher Authority then this World would be even more Chaotic. Its in our nature to fear the "unknown" and that should set us up in the right path?. WRONG. Ive read/heard plenty about people that committed unthinkable acts and once in prison they look to God as an escape to move on from their crime, BECAUSE GOD DOESNT JUDGE; ANYONE CAN PRAY TO GOD. Now doesnt that seem unfair! There is plenty of EVIL, SICK, MONSTERS in this world and nor "God or the "Devil" are responsible for their actions. It really upsets me that people are so damn ignorant to believe that if there were such thing as a "Higher Above" then why would defenseless children be molested and people dying of hunger and 12 innocent people DIED and 50-70 people injured >>> dont blame the Devil cause there's no such thing ONLY PSYCHOTIC EVIL PEOPLE! Dont put the blame on something you have never seen.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  12. tom


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


      July 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • God

      I chose to let my son die and when he did he came right back home, so no...I really don't know what it is like....

      July 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  13. aurora

    dang, we really needed batman.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  14. elvisg

    A "God" is not a requirement to have morals in a society. Treat people as you would want your child to be treated if they were that person. That's all there is to it...

    July 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • DontPretend

      It is impossible to make that statement since the only society any of us know was built upon religion. You make that statement as someone who was raised in that society. Without fear of paying the "ultimate price" (damnation for eternity), many of the social constructs we have engrained into our consciousness would never have been developed, and we would be a lot more like the animal inside of us.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  15. skysgirl

    God is EVERYWHERE! God is in EVERYTHING! It is the People who are not with GOD! All is GOOD, until man makes it BAD!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  16. Guest

    The Lord is with all of us, every moment of every day of our lives. He knows how painful our lives here on Earth can be, that's why He's given us each other, to comfort and love each other, and to help each other through this experience we call life. Yes, there is so a great deal of evil out there, but there is far more good. Just be grateful for this day that you've been given and don't ever give up hope. And tell your family and friends that you love them!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  17. virginia

    I there is no God and evil there is no wrong on Holmes actions he was just reacting to social pressure there for a tragic outcome we are all resposible for as a society affecting eothers actions there for we as a society are as much to blame as holmes is for reating to social pressure...why then do we judge him as he too judged out behavior...

    July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  18. religion is for the weak

    why do chrisitans even try to act competent?

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

      Hey now, don't forget that they'll be voting, and deciding the fate of this country. Don't let that scare you, or anything.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  19. Carlos

    God was in the same place when his Son Jesus was been kill in the cross.

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

      I was been not existing.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  20. librarian

    wow – it's remarkable: the torrent of mean-spirited thinking and rude comments expressed here. Everyone outdid themselves. And the absolute thinking coming from all corners...it's not a stretch to have an answer as to why violence like this happens by objectively looking at the comments here.

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

      Uh oh, someone feels holier than thou today...

      July 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      It's cyberspace, librarian. It has dehumanized us. We can post hateful comments and not see the effect of our words on the faces of other people. Not much different from bombing Hiroshima. From 30000 feet, they didn't see people. Yet, I'm told, Science will save us and, coupled with Reason, usher in a New Heaven.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:38 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.