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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. Tylicia

    First of all, my condolences to the families of those killed in yet another senseless killing. God does not approve of murder as he made that clear while Jesus was here on earth. Jesus told us the will of God. To love one another and do good to our enemies and yet we through our own maliciousness whether it be gossip or to use others for gain, leave people who we harm without hope. Such a lack of hope can lead to many emotional disorders and so we are to blame, and in some cases Satan is to blame as we can't deny his existence if we are to believe in God. If one does not believe in God we are creating this byproduct by such actions that leave people feeling no one cares. I feel sorry for the victims but I also feel sorry for the people who killed in many such situations. How hopeless their lives must have been to turn against humanity. However, nature is nature and God gives us all our time on earth. Violence by mankind is the influence of societal lack of compassion or the influence of Satan. Nature is nature. Do I blame God for any of my misfortunes in life? No! I know by what Jesus said that he wanted us to care about each other and so it would never be Gods will to bring harm to mankind. Whether we will or Satan will be up to our choices in life on what side we want to be a part of. I'd also like to say to many so called Christians out there who in arrogance thinking that is all they need do is believe! Next time you talk badly about your fellow human being, remember Jesus spoke strongly against such actions, and in doing so such things as Columbine and these situations will occur due to how you've brought yet another human being to a state of feeling no one cares. To those who don't believe such actions also apply. Its about caring. One good action could change many of the decisions that led people to murder others. But as stated. Nature is nature, its our time when that happens.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  2. Mike

    This was all part of God's plan; God is punishing us for our actions. God gave man free-will. The people who died are in heaven now; in a better place.

    Veronica Moser, a 6 year old girl, was shot and killed in that theater. So God let a 6 year old girl suffer horror and death at a movie theater, without intervening. After probably suffering and bleeding to death, she is now in heaven and she is happier than she otherwise would have been.

    Clearly this was all part of God's plan. Clearly letting that little girl suffer was God's way to punish our community. Clearly Veronica should have influenced our communities to prevent God's punishment from reigning down on her. Clearly God could not have intervened to save her and the other innocents, despite His omnipotent nature!

    God has betrayed us, just as he did the Jewish people who prayed to him as the Nazis burned and murdered them.

    He is malevolent
    He is negligent
    Or he does not exist!

    July 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Tylicia

      It is not Gods plan. God made it clear through Jesus that his intentions were for us to love each other and to love our enemies. Its in our own hands and choices after seeing the will of God through Jesus. God gave us the choice to choose and through such blatant remarks we no longer take responsibility for ours or others actions, and blame God or say its his will. That turns others away from God. It was our choice! Not Gods That is why God will judge us!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  3. Julie

    To answer the problem of evil, we need to pan outwards from this one incident. If God is love, perfectly just, and good, he cannot and would not tolerate evil. Yes? If he is a good judge, then he would not excuse one "sin" or one evil thing. Each one of us has a conscience which Christians believe is the law of God written on each of our hearts. DNA and evolution cannot explain why we feel sorrow when we see death. It goes against our very God-imprinted being. So – where was God? The same place he was when humanity decided to choose to turn from perfection and make up our own laws of what is good and evil. Do you have to teach your child to hit and be selfish? Do you have to teach them how to be sneaky and lie? Do you have to teach a child to enjoy hurting another? Of course not – it is all evidence of our natures which have fallen from grace. If any one of us stood before the living God – who is the embodiment of all that is good, beautiful, and just – His perfect justice, which we constantly pervert in our very thoughts and hearts, would condemn us. We all deserved to be one of those precious souls killed. But God did not leave us to die – He did not abandon us to be brutally murdered by death. He came to earth Himself. He lived the perfect life that none of us ever could live – fulfilling His justice and goodness – and then allowed the most brutal of humanity crucify Him on a cross of wood. After God poured out His wrath over the evil of humanity upon Jesus, He died, and then God raised Jesus from the dead, calling him the "firstfruits" of all those who would believe and be saved from death through faith in Him. He suffered in agony in the place of any human who would put their faith in His rescue. As if in a courtroom, we stood convicted, and Jesus came out of the crowd, and offered to take our place in capital punishment. If you put your faith in Him, though your body might be brutally murdered in this life, you will awaken in the presence of the beautiful God who created and loves you. That's where God was – He was weeping over death which our evil has brought upon us, and at the same time, proclaiming His defeat of death through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  4. i

    This is very perplexing and complex to me. I dearly want to believe in God and Jesus and Heaven because I feel without God then why do even exist? Did we come from a Big Bang? I find that hard to believe also. I have always wondered why someone who has a great career and family yet never goes to church can have a great life. At the same time it is funny how someone can pray and worship God all their life can live a lonely life in a dysfunctional family. It just doesn't make sense. Neither does this mass killing. I am as confused and perplexed about a higher being that I have ever been. None of us will never know the truth until the day we die and we still might know it at that point.

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

      We are all born atheists, religion is something we learn. That should be the first hint that its precepts are suspect. Why is it so hard to believe we came from a big bang? If you observe the stars and galaxies around us, everything is expanding consistently. Given that, if you go back in time you would expect to find a point where everything converged. You ask how God allows suffering – well the answer would be simple. If god exists he a) is evil or b) is not all powerful as many religious people claim. No matter how you try to blame things on mankind while praising God, you can't escape the fact that if he's all powerful AND good, he would stop injustice. But he doesn't. So either god is evil, not all-powerful, or just doesn't exist. Why can atheists live good lives? Because it's silly to assume you need religion to have a good life. Religion, as I see it, is something people use to cope with the loneliness of existence. Beyond that, you can't expect anything.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  5. Daniel

    I can't eloquently say the theology of my answer, but my take on this event is this:
    God gave all mankind free will. Whether the choice to love, hate, or both, man is able to choose which direction he goes. God does not intervene in our choices, not because of a lack of love or concern, but because that would undermine free will. Why give someone a choice if only to make that choice for them? We have free will because the option to love other and love God is only sincere and true when we choose it. If God built us to love Him there would be no real relationship and no true depth. In essence we would be hardwired for God. Thus our free will allows us to have a sincere love for God, but is also allows us to have a sincere hate for God and others. And so asking where God was during this tragedy, God was there if you want to think of it like that. He didn't grab a bag of popcorn and watch while humans suffered nor did he ignore what happened. I firmly believe God's heart was broken with what happened and seeing the people he created suffer caused him to suffer. Yet, we make our own choices and thus God was not going to change free will.

    I am by no means an expert but I know that God does not ignore suffering or pain, but rather uses it to build good. Look at the out pouring of love since this event. Look at how many people have come together and even a presidential race was stopped out of respect. Good can come from evil and that is where God is during these times.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  6. Homecat

    I don't know where God is. I'm not sure where I am. But God or no God, let's concentrate our efforts in trying to change what we can, improve what we can, be accountable for our own actions. There's always going to be evil people but let's not be apathetic after all the drama is done. We don't have to agree on God's existence to do good.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  7. TOMG

    IN THE WOOD IS GOD THERE , IN THE FOREST IS GOD WAITING THERE , IN THE NATURE NATURAL PLACE GOD ALWAYS WAITING THERE , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • So let me get this straight...

      Was it the nature natural place, or the natural nature place?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • the voice of reason

      Tom, get back on your meds, please.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • TOMG

      BOTH THE NATURE AND THE NATURAL PLACE IS SIMILAR TO THE AIR INHALE INTKAE FRESH AIR AND EXHALE DIRTY TOXIC AIR , AMEN .

      July 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • TOMG

      I JUST TOOK MY MED. DOG WHAT YOU TALKING ABOUT , AMEN .

      July 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • LIL JON

      ....WHAT?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • TOMG

      SAM YOU MEAN THE VIRGINA AND THE PENIS LIVING TOGETHER SAM , AMEN

      July 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  8. Elaine

    We live in a world full of evil people... All of us have free will. You can't blame god for the actions of another person. If that's the case where was he when everything else in the world took place? Tsunami, hurricane Katrina, Sept 11. This is a hevy subject.. I believe in god no matter what, eventhough i sometimes have the "why god" questions.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • TOMG

      TSUNAMI ARE THE MOST POWERFUL OF ALL GOD ,AMEN . INHALE THE FRESH AIR IN OUR DAILY BASIC IS GOD CALLING AND SO DOES OUR EXHALE DIRT TOXIC AIR , AMEN .

      July 25, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  9. Juju

    "GOD," OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL THE MYSTERIOUS FORCE OR ENERGY THAT CREATED EVERYTHING, IS NOT A "HE" – AND COULD JUST AS EASILY BE A "SHE" OR AN "IT."

    IF YOU HAVE PROOF OTHERWISE, BRING IT.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Most monotheistic scripture refers to the "one true God" as a male, hence the stereotypical white-bearded dude as deity. Caps lock is silly, by the way.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  10. Jkzaw

    OK, let me back up here – my first post was purely reactionary. It just gets to me when we try to attribute violence or the lack of empathy to anyone other than ourselves. We created the concept of violence and warfare. We manufactured the weapons used in the theater. And the shooter pulled the trigger. I don't think we can progress as a society until we recognize that we are the sole arbiters of our own fate. We need to start watching out for each other, because no one else is going to.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  11. jackriter

    It's funny how people don't believe in God until they need him- and then it's " Oh God- help me ! Save me ! ...."

    Don't wait until you're a day late and a dollar short.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • No Religion Thank You

      No worries. I won't be turning to your imaginary friend for "guidance". I prefer reality.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Yes we should look to when people are in extreme states of fear, stress or sadness as evidence for something.

      Do you even think about the things you post?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Which God??

      I call BS on you jackriter. I'm a combat vet, I never called on an imaginary sky-fairy when shells were falling and bullets whisleing by me. Scared? hell yes, but i didn't bargain with a false god to get me out of it. You are a sack of shyte, and a wimp.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  12. christ_child1991

    1 Thess 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

    14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

    15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

    16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

    17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

    18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

    all these things are gonna happen and all I can do is pray for all of in the dark blinded by the light of the devil I pray that GOD will open your eyes to realize he is real and that you get saved and have a change of heart before all these things happen.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      another one....I have nothing in my own brain to add, so here's a quote from some men that is 2000 years old.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  13. TOMG

    I SAW GOD BUT NOT ALLAH , AMEN

    July 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      CAPS LOCK!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • the voice of reason

      Ok, Tom...read carefully. This is NOT a test. Well, maybe. Allah is just another word for god in Arabic. They also have different words for car and idiot. That is because IT'S A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE! Jeez

      July 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Alicia Townes

      Where did you see Him?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • TOMG

      I SAW GOD IN MY DAILY LIFE SUCH AS HEARING VOICES AND DOES HAVE COMUNICATION WITH GOD CALL ANY MOMENT OF THE SPEED OF LIGHT , AMEN .

      July 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  14. Commoncents

    Saying definitively that god exists is just as ignorant a statement as saying definitively that god doesn’t exist because no one knows. Regardless of the existence of god, the tragic death of innocent people in situations such as the one in Aurora seems to be pretty random and can’t really be rationalized. This killer doesn’t fit the profile of a misfit, but unfortunately evil people such as that seem to sprout from all different backgrounds and upbringings, which leads one to believe that upbringing really isn’t responsible. Tragically, some people lose their fragile minds and hurt others for no reason.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Alicia Townes

      God is everywhere. God is a order Its not good or evil

      July 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  15. Ran

    It's a good thing that all the people here talking about their god were born in the right country at the right time, to the right parents to be a part of the one true religion! It makes me want to barf.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  16. Nes

    America has turned it's back on it's God, so in turn The Creator has done the same. Blessed is the nation who's God is the Lord, that says it all PERIOD..................

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

      What a petty, vain and needy god you've imagined up for yourself.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  17. druffmaul

    Where was God? In the same place he's always been- existing only in the minds of pathetic wretches who can't or won't cope with reality.

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

      I agree with you there. 100%. These people are absent minded. Being controlled by religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Vladson81

      Well said!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Joe

      God only exists in your heart and mind. God does not exists as some "being", manipulating our existence like a sadistic maniac. Christians (and all others) should really stop personifying God. God is in you. God is whatever you want it to be.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  18. Sivick

    How could a good, all knowing god allow bad things to happen? Well, you could take the position that a father-figure god would allow humanity to make it's own mistakes in order for us to evolve on our own as a people and grow up from our infancy as an intelligent species "for the greater good". However, to take that view, you have to belive in evolution and for most religious people that's a bridge too far, so either way, checkmate.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  19. troyale

    The Lord is love. For those who were saying that He is punishing our nation (for their sin or for excluding him from their lives), I want to point out that He exhausted ALL punishment for sin on his son, Jesus when He died on the cross. What did Jesus say before he died? "It is FINISHED." Why would God need to punish us again? By saying that, you are saying that Jesus' sacrifice wasn't enough to cover all our sins. This tragedy was not His will. He wants everyone to live, not die. The man behind the shooting chose what he was going to do. God was there in the theatre (stories of protection come out everyday), and He is with the survivors and families of the victims today.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  20. TOMG

    GOD IS ALWAYS IN ONESELF MIND AND SOUL , JUST ACT ACCORDINGLY , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      LOUD NOISES!

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

      CATS AND DOGS, LIVING TOGETHER

      July 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • TOMG

      YOU MEAN PUSSSSIE AND DIC LIVING TOGETHER SAM , AMEN .

      July 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • LIL JON

      ...OKAY

      July 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
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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.