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. ayala

    I don't know, I just don't know.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  2. Joe

    Surprised that CNN put this out there but we always get to it anyway. Options are this:
    1 – There are no gods or God.
    2 – There is a God or gods and they don't interfere.
    3 – There are gods and they fight amongst themselves interfering with us.
    4 – There are gods or a God and is evil.
    No reason to pray for any benefit to people for any of those options as they would go unanswered. Praying for 2 or 3 would only give personal enjoyment and maybe enjoyment to the God or gods, that is if 1 or 4 are not true. There is no 5th option that a good God or gods selectively interferes as opting to allow horrible suffering is evil.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  3. Eric Blair

    The Problem of Evil. Although I am an atheist, I like these answers. I am so glad that none of these posts mentions the "devil". If God is the creator, why would he create an equally powerful being capable of destruction? Sounds like polytheism to me. God, take a hike and go make a square circle!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • BldrRepublican

      You've just revealed how little you know.

      The opposite of God is not Satan (aka Lucifer, a fallen angel). God is in a whole league all by Himself, and has this universe right where He wants it.

      The opposite of Lucifer is Michael, the archangel.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  4. Sao

    ROMANS 1:21-32
    21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

    23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

    24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

    25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

    26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

    27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

    29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

    30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

    31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

    32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Joe

      "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." Dune. give it a 1000 years and people will believe it to be fact.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  5. Jim

    God is perfect, we are not. If you die without accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you will be eternally separated from God, you will be sentenced to hell forever. It is no joking matter. God may be calling you today, do not wait to answer He loves us all. Look at the world and how much evil dwells within it, don't you want the Almighty God who created all on your side!!? Read the book of JOB and see what all he went through yet he did not lose his faith in God. If you have questions or concerns read the Bible and pray about it, and If you feel God is calling you to salvation, pray this simple prayer. Lord Jesus Christ I come to you as a sinner, and I confess to you all of my sins, I know my sins have separated us, but I believe that you died on the cross for all my sins, you shed your blood, and died in my place I believe with all my heart that God has resurrected you from the dead, you are alive and I trust and accept you as my Lord and Savior forever forgive me of my sins Lord I repent of them all and turn to you. I trust you alone for my salvation and I confess you Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and that my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Thank you for the free gift of eternal life that we do not deserve. In your Holy name Jesus I pray amen.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • JWT

      God is your thing – you and the bible have nothign useful or accurate to say about those that do not believe. The only difference is that they do not believe.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  6. non beliver

    I believe there was a Jesus whom people called Christ. Jesus was a smart man and tried to turn the area into a better place to live. For that, he was crucified. It's hard for me to believe that there is a God. There are several questions that keep me from believing. Why are babies born dead? Their soul never had a chance. Why would God not give everyone a chance, being as we are created equal? Why does he allow parents to kill their children at a very young age? How come these children were not given a chance in life? These questions show that not everybody is created equal. Some live long lives and some never see the light of day.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  7. garrettspeaks

    Asking "Where was God?" dealing with this is pointless. Last year Texas had a bad drought and their governor held a "Pray for Rain" day. Well it didn't rain at all after that, except on the weekend of the Atheists and Freethinkers convention. Now nobody religious would claim that the atheist convention had some supernatural rain-bringing power (at least I hope nobody would claim that). But moreover asking "Where was God?" is the same when applied to Aurora as to war, violence, disease, death, and the problems of this world. "God" is never there, because God simply does not exist, does not interfere, or does not care. I believe the former rather than the two latter.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  8. tacostand

    There is no god.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  9. Ace

    All this does is help us question what God's "job" really is.
    If God's job is to intervene, he isn't doing it right as evidenced every day.
    If it isn't, then I'm not sure what the faithful pray for other than self-consolation.
    Free will and a loving God who cares for the well being of humanity as a whole are two mutually-exclusive concepts. Try it on your dog/kids/students/workers/whatever and see for yourself.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  10. coskid

    GOD was in Aurora, comforting the wounded and dying, and giving others the impulse to flee or hide. If we want God to intervene, what does that say about free will? Shall God interfere with your free will, but give me full reign to do whatever I want with my free will? Where do we want God to draw the line? Should we only ask God to intervene when humans are dying? What if it's our enemy? Do we want God to intervene then?

    July 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  11. Paul

    Where is God every single day as hundreds of people die each day in Syria, Aftganinistan, Pakistan, Tibet, etc. etc. etc.

    Why is it that we Americans freak out when a couple people get killed on our soil and brush it off when hundreds die by the day in other countries.

    The question shouldn't be where was God in Aurora. The question should be ... where is God PERIOD.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • DK in VA

      I'm not sure if you believe in God or not Paul....but A-MEN to your comment!!:)

      July 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  12. Answer

    Oh the dumb religious ones always wanting their gods to have a hand in their lives. So funny.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  13. brewerjosh


    July 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  14. Ohioan

    A book written by primitive, unknowledgeable people thousands of years ago does not prove the existence of God or anything. There is simply no proof of such an illogicial and senseless existence. Anita Moorjani's recent book, Dying to Be Me, describes her near death experience in which she came to realize that God is not a being, but rather a state of being. She now no longer prays to God since she has determined that God as a being does not exist. Further, the vast majority of scientists are atheists as are 100% of biologists. Nonbelief in general is positively correlated with education such that 78% of college graduates ages 22-35 are nonbelievers. Because people are increasingly realizing that God is nonexistent, atheism is growing in all 50 states. Soon atheism will be very commonplace in the U.S. as it already is in many countries. Over a billion people in the world are nonbelievers.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • J.W

      Do you have any citations for your statistics?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • OrthoPA

      She has "determined"? this...by what "objective facts" Just as believers are scorned for not having "proof", someone's opinion does not a fact make...

      July 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • RP

      Total hogwash, pure and simple. When your chips are down you will believe also. The old saying "there are no atheists in foxholes rings true." I am willing to bet that most of those in the movie theater during this maniac's shooting spree became "believers" at least for the moment.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Joe

      Actually the quote "there are no atheists in foxholes" is false as been proven by such military members saying they do not believe in God but in body armor. There is a growing movement away from religion because of the hate it is used for. Tell me how much hating on LGBT brings to the alter? Ohh wait they are getting tired of you instead. Maybe if the religious actually practiced what they preached.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Ohioan

      To J.W

      The first two statistics were reported in a blog post on another site. It is true that i have not verified these stats, but CNN has reported that about a third of all millenials are atheist and it is highly likely that this belief would be even more prevalent among college graduates. The last two statistics regarding the number of nonbelievers worldwide and the growing number of athiests in all 50 states have been reported on CNN. I have also found the latter fact mentioned in an article on Yahoo.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  15. Ash

    Free will is nothing more than a simple explanation of why "God" doesn't intevene when bad folks do bad things.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • BldrRepublican

      That is exactly correct, it is a very simple, very accurate explanation.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • DK in VA

      Life is the good, the bad, and the ugly.....period. Christians don't need an "excuse" for God. Who ever said God was Captain Save-The-World-From-Killing-Itself? He is Captain-Save-The-World-From-Our-Sins. Have you ever read the Old Testament or the Bible period? I have read where it tells how to treat people, and even if you DON'T believe in God I don't think you can deny the basic principles of "love your neighbor as yourself":) Is it God's fault when folks lose their minds and go on killing sprees? Are we puppets on a string controlled by God? Nope, don't think so...if you want to know WHO God is, at least read the Bible, don't just make stuff up.

      Let's just turn our thoughts and prayers(if you believe in God) to the families affected by the tragedy........

      July 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  16. fredy

    God has the greatest publicist... he gets credit for all the good in the world, but all the bad is blamed on "man's free will". The sad truth is that God wasn't in Aurora... it's the truth man has been afraid to admit to himself throughout his existence.

    As always, I hope I'm completely wrong...

    July 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • OrthoPA

      Ah! you aren't saying you truly believe..."hoping you're wrong"...don't sit on the fence...It's OK to believe and not fully understand...

      July 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • RP

      If as you say God was not in Aurora is simply not true. Was God not there whe Abel was killed by Cain. Yes he was but Cain also had his free will and he chose poorly. Likewise in Aurora. The shooter chose poorly. Whether he chose of his own free will or had psychological defects is yet to be determined. Remember sadly 12 were killed but 59, I think were wounded and hopefully will recover. Also all those not wounded or killed in that theater were protected by someone. Why did the rifle jam? Purely mechanical defect or divine providence? I will choose (of my own free will) the latter!!!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • fredy

      I'm agnostic... i don't think there's evidence of a god, but also no evidence there isn't. So a still born child... what choice did he or his family make? a freak accidental death? as for the 59 wounded... think of the family of the other 12 hoping that God could find it in his heart to protect 60 instead...

      July 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  17. God told me to post this

    he took the day off, got some nacho's with cheese and sat back to watch a movie.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • OrthoPA

      Took a lot for your two brain cells to come up with that one... You're right...I do believe GOD told you to post your comment...just to show everyone how stupid a person can be...

      July 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  18. shirlee

    I always wondered if there is a god why babies die ,people get killed,wars,and I just do not come up with an answer..do I still believe..yes..i wonder sometimes if they are the choosen ones to guide us from up above ,god cannot stop what is to come i guess it is up to those around us to notice these things..like are parents or friends or schools.not sure...are humans born that evil i do not believe that..but my heart goes out to the those who have lost a loved one.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • OrthoPA

      Read "The Shack" what kind of a species would we be if, every time something happened GOD swooped down to prevent it. we certainly wouldn't need the brains we have, or the compassion, or the hate, or the ability to make good and bad decisions...and we certainly are not amoebas...

      July 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  19. mike

    I don't know where he was in Aurora. But right now he's laughing his ass off reading this blog.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  20. JV

    Where was GOD? Well, if you believe in GOD like I do, then you know GOD was there the whole time watching as man choose once again to do whatever he wanted. Man choose to act out on his own stresses, aniexties, and impure thoughts of the world. Man choose to turn away from GOD for help. This should be a remainder to ALL believers that GOD is out there. He just waiting for you to choose. Are you going to let him into your life or not?

    July 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Observer

      "This should be a remainder to ALL believers that GOD is out there" sitting around and watching the carnage while doing nothing.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Ryan

      Nope. I am the master of my own existence. I don't need the world's oldest fairy tale to validate my life.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      The only problem with your rant is that GOD KNEW and KNOWS how Man will choose. He is omniscient. He HAS to know. He KNEW prior to James Holmes being born that James would buy guns and kill 12 people on July 20, 2012. AND worse yet ... God created James Holmes anyway!!. Free will is only viable from the view of man ... from GOD's perspective there is NO FREE WILL. How can there be free will if god knows all?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • juayet

      Amen JV

      July 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • crashingwaves

      If I died in a movie theater, I definitely wouldn't someone blaming God for my death. I would want people rejoicing that I was raised up to be with my lord Jesus Christ. I would gladly, like to be with him right now. You have to die sometime, you can't live forever on earth. BTW it does no good to prove to others God exists, being that they want to believe other wise. One day everyone will be a believer that God exsists.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:42 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.