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. Fact

    God created Adam and Eve and gave them free will (rather than making puppets).
    He gave them one command: Do not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If they did they would die.
    Satan encouraged them to disobey God and they chose to. Sin entered into the picture and nature of mankind.
    God sent Christ to pay the penalty for sin and provide redemption – spiritual rebirth – fellowship with God and all the blessings that come with it. Through faith in Christ we can escape the power of Satan and sin and have a personal relationship with God which is what God intended. Those who are not believers have no clue what this is all about and I encourage you to not be deceived by them. The bible states, "the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing".
    Now we have the offer of life with God or life with Satan. Your choice.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • James

      "The bible states, "the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing".
      Now we have the offer of life with God or life with Satan. Your choice."

      It's cause they want you to keep believing in the con, you belong to a cult.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      free will: The term used by religious affiliated people to explain the total absence of god when someone does something bad.
      And you think that god created Adam and eve.
      Science has proven that humans descended from around 600 sets of DNA, not one set, that was somehow cloned from a male to a female.
      One set is not enough to create a viable species. THAT is a fact.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • saywhatyoumean@yahoo.com

      Well some of us that follow Christ also believe in the evidence of organic evolution and that Adam and Eve were either metaphorical or that they really existed and were simply given a "boost" per say by a higher intelligence (God) to our current form. I'd rather spend my time trying to figure out things based on what evidence there is and not on what I just want to believe, and that should go for anyone, whether you believe in "God" or not. Many of us seem to think we have things so figured out that it couldn't possibly change. Is that true ?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  2. Edward

    I do not know why This happened, I dont know if we can say God allows this. I do not believe God caused this. I will say I do not no why this evil person was allowed by God to do this. I know I have hardships and I get angry at God I am not right to get angry at God because my hardships are caused by not being in Gods will. If I had followed God when I was young I am sure my life would be better. I do not know why things happen. I know that God has the right to take life and give life as he pleases because He is God and God has that authority and right. I say to who ever reads this that if you were God you would have that right to take life and give life. I know that as a christian I will not question God as I do not have a right to question God and his authority. I trust God to do what is right that is it.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • .

      Santa Claus allows this. I do not believe Santa Claus caused this. I will say I do not no why this evil person was allowed by Santa Claus to do this. I know I have hardships and I get angry at Santa Claus I am not right to get angry at Santa Claus because my hardships are caused by not being in Santa Claus’s will. If I had followed Santa Claus when I was young I am sure my life would be better. I do not know why things happen. I know that Santa Claus has the right to take life and give life as he pleases because He is Santa Claus and Santa Claus has that authority and right. I say to who ever reads this that if you were Santa Claus you would have that right to take life and give life. I know that as a christian I will not question Santa Claus as I do not have a right to question Santa Claus and his authority. I trust Santa Claus to do what is right that is it.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      my grand-daughter is in the 4th grade and can compose a better essay than that.
      Try expanding your mind and putting down your cryptic ancient tome. I'm sure that will help.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Julie

      As much as you believe in Jesus, you need to also believe in the existence of Satan, as Jesus talked about constantly. Satan performed the evil deed. We all have free will, and this person freely chose to allow evil to get inside him. We will suffer on earth as Jesus suffered, but our souls will be safe in God's love. Satan loves to do these things and then hire his obediant servants to point the finger at God. Satan did this, but being a good psychopath, he won't own it.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  3. Mark

    This was not god! This was the mark of Zeus through his appointed agent Thor! god does not do midnight shows of movies! Get it right, please.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  4. Pete M.

    I love this age old question. God give humans free will. This opens the door for both good and evil. God can not stop evil or he has to stop good and this will take away free will. Look at the outcome and listen to the stories and you will hear comments that God was there. The miracles, the narrow escapes and the things that could have been worse but for some mysterious reason it was not. If you care to look you will see that God and his Angels we very much a part of the event. If you believe it or not.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • yeahalright

      A perfect example of the self contradiction of the deluded, neatly self contained in one post.

      First he says god couldn't intervene. Then he says he did intervene via he and his angels performing miracles.

      Which is it?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Fact

      God can stop evil if he so chooses. Satan needed God's permission to strike Job. But God had a purpose and Job was not only honored and blessed by God for his faithfulness but has eternal life with him to boot. God has reasons for all of what he allows.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • yeahalright

      The Job he needed even MORE obedience and slavish devotion from? You worship quite a sadistic, insecure and petty god you know that?

      Ok, so god can intervene. Please go inform all the god apologists on here tying themselves in knots about how god gave us free will so he couldn't have stopped it.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  5. Scott M

    I don't believe in God the way most believers mean it here, I think. I'm talking about those that quote the Bible as an authoritative source. But I do agree with some statements about God as a creator force. The undisputable reality is no one knows the answer to any of this stuff. Everything I see in my life tells me that a Creator is much larger and more profound (and forgive me, better) than the God described in holy texts. And I cannot imagine why a God would micro-manage actively or through purposeful neglect the daily affairs of human beings. I do acknowledge that "God" is a logical concept developed over time to help people try to manage life's painful realities and the fear of death. But again, nobody really really really knows whether there is or isn't a God. I don't. People believe, or trust, or sincerely hope. But absolutely nobody really knows.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  6. Lynn

    GOD "Jammed" the gun.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ridiculous. If god could jam the gun, why didn't he do so before Holmes began firing?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Chris

      No...poor manufacturing caused a jam. Those large capacity magazines don't work well.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  7. saywhatyoumean@yahoo.com

    I hate it when people use tragic incidents to put their own opinion of God in the spotlight. Some say he is responsible for this shooting, or that he chose not to stop it, that he can't stop it because he doesn't even exist. We cannot speak for God, whether we choose to believe he exists or not. He is not standing right here addressing us. All we can do is form an opinion on what we know from Scriptures and from what we want to believe about him. I personally don't think he enjoys seeing people suffer. I don't think he wants anyone to be hurt, but the reality is that sometimes pain does good things for us. People are using this incident to attack others and opposing beliefs, but there's also people coming together. When that criminal religious group said they were going to picket a memorial for the victims, look at how many people came together to honor and protect those hurt by this tragedy. Bad times can bring out the best in people or the worst. I like to think that God does not want us to suffer, but we make ourselves suffer because of our selfishness. Maybe he is trying to help us but most don't really listen. Since Jesus Christ came there have been horrible things done in his name by his proclaimed followers. Yet, there are still people who take that principle to love one another to heart and not be like those that hate and judge. Maybe we will meet this being we call God one day and have the answers we ask for, but as a race, I don't think we are ready yet.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Oh, and US? That wasn't the question to which I was referring. See if you can answer the other one. I'll repeat it as I know you're too lazy to bother to look. You said that atheists, by and large, were just lemmings following the example of others rather than thinking and studying for themselves. Can't the same be said for many of the believers here?

    I won't expect an answer, since you'll probably ignore the question and pretend you never saw it.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  9. virginia

    people who don't believe in right and wrong, Good and evil, yes and no are suffering of some form of mental candicap ----–and capable of the same error homes made judging and killing as many as he could, cause God wasn't going to do it according to him, so he took action himself and don't see it as wrong cause wrong in his mind don't exist and according to you agree cause you don't adknowlege the existence of wrong...

    July 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • PC

      Are you saying that the Colo shooter was acting as God's proxy when he killed those people ? That he killed them because God wasn't going to do it ? Why would you think that ? Why would somebody think God should kill innocent moviegoers to begin with ? I think YOU are suffering from some error in judgement. Do you own any weapons ?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  10. Woody

    People are little more than mammals and we all know what a bear is capable of as the bear is a mammal just like us and all it takes is drugs, liquor , or mental problems to revert our minds back to the mind of a bear . We are hunters and gatherers today we just do it by calling it shopping .

    July 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  11. Mahendra Patel

    As per teachings in Hindu religion which believes in principle of reincarnation. Lord Krishna tells warrior Arjun while teaching him about Gita, that God is not responsible for Human's action. Humans themselves are responsible for their own actions. Humans are responsible for their Karma (deeds) and their Dharma (duties). Humans carry their good and bad deeds and their predestined fates form rebirth to rebirth. Therefore James Holmes is responsible for his own deeds. Those who suffered are not responsible for James Holmes bad action, they just happen to come in this world with their unfortunate fates. Politicians are also responsible for laws they legistlate.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Please also admit that there is no reward for living a good life.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Ian

      If reincarnation is true, then why has the world population exploded in the last 200 years from 900 million to 6.7 billion? Where did all these new people come from?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • PC

      @Mahendra Patel
      Aren't "pre-destined fate" and "God's plan" one and the same ? I believe in each man's personal responsibility for good and bad deeds. God has given man free will, which includes not only the freedom to do good or bad deeds, but also the freedom to accept or reject Him. I do not believe in re-incarnation; we all get only ONE shot at life, not multiple chances to get it right. You have to accept God, live by His precepts, and have a good relationship with Him if you want to be with Him eternally after death, just as you have to be nice to and have a good relationship with someone if you want them to be your spouse.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  12. Kalki

    The reporter asked a question to stir up some emotion and fill up some blogs. But, in reality, this has nothing to do with God or Christianity or Judaism or Islam. It is about getting these weapons out of our streets and homes. All arguments to the contrary all completely phony and self-serving. There is no need for any guns in the hands of civilians.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Is there a need for guns in the hands of Syrian civilians?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • PC

      I beg your pardon, but in Florida several home invasions have been thwarted and several lives possibly saved becasue 'civilians' did have guns in their homes.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  13. F. Jackson

    The Bible says that the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the eyes of those who do not belieive in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, this country has successfully taken everything that Jesus stood for out of our daily lives. Whether you believe in the spiritual world or not, there is good and evil. It just so happens to be that evil prevails. What do you expect, God has been removed from us, and so has His protective covering. If you know the scriptures, you will see and understand that the Bible is being fulfilled. There will come a time, when people will see Jesus face to face and will have to bow and worship Him, rather you want to or not. There will come a time when all those who do not believe in the Son of God will go to Hell! And those that do will be taken into Heaven. Whether you believe it or not it is going to happen.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      The bible was also the work of many MEN over the course of many years, then edited by more MEN to fit their agenda of power, money and to convert pagans....learn the history of your religion please.

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

    I believe God was there protecting many people. Does He allow people to suffer so they can stand as witnesses against the accused? Yes. More importantly I heard numerous stories of people beng told to not do something. The Neighbor downstairs felt like she should not open the door. Jesus taught that we should visit the sick and afflicted, mourn with those that mourn. If my son falls off of his bike or gets hit by his brother does that mean I don't love him. If we give God a chance, exercise a little faith, and trust that maybe He is more powerful than us then he can prove it. I know he loves us.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  15. babs

    he went to get some jujubees at the snack counter

    July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Ian

      That's racist.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  16. crs

    Amazing how many grown adult believe in an invisible man in the sky. This was a tragedy and no imaginary people had anything to do with it.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Kate

      Well is beliving an intellectual thought or a feeling? There is a difference.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      reducing Christianity to "imaginary man in the sky" is either deliberately demeaning or ignorant. I guess either one works.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Why's that demeaning Bill? Seems factual to me.

      Imaginary: Nobody can see him or provide any evidence of his existence. The only evidence is that people made him up. Thus, imaginary.
      In the sky: Religious people often look up when praying or genuflecting or thanking god for whatever. Thus, in the sky.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  17. Lincoln Cannon

    The only God that's compatible with the evil we experience is a God that would make more Gods by relinquishing creation to the risk of evil and the opportunity of good. Only through relinquishment can a creator make that which is more than a prosthetic extension of itself: that which is genuinely creative in its own right. Only through relinquishment can a creator exemplify meaningful compassion. If there is a God, we are children of such a God.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  18. Merry Prankster

    I noticed that the man in the picture is assuming that all of the victims were Christian's !!!

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

      No, he is stating that he is a Christian and his hope is that the souls of these victims live forever.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Julie – then let him pray in his house to his sky fairy.

      But no he's got to go in public so people can see how much he "cares." If any of these people weren't christian, what he's doing is arrogant and condescending.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  19. Kate

    Part of the problem with this dialog is the deep rooted belief that suffering is a way to unite yourself with God just as Christ did on the cross and that is not really well understood even by devout Christians and then combine that with modern world which seeks to do all things pleasing to ones self at all costs. I am not suprised that so many people are confused.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  20. Alverant

    Notice how the guy in the picture is assuming all the victims are christian. The question is what he would do if he learned one of them was jewish or hindu or something else. Would he respect their religious beliefs and change the cross to the proper religious symbol or convert them post-mortum in a moment of christian arrogance.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Kate

      What happens if he was being sincere and doing this out of love and not malice like you seem to think he is?

      July 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • PC

      How do you know that they weren't ? Maybe he know's that they were. Or perhaps he got 'clearance' from their families to to this. I find atheists to be the most sceptical and unhappy of persons, always looking for a point of criticism. It's a sad fate to have to go through life attacking other persons beliefs. It's no wonder, given the hole in their heart due to the absence of God. Note: Only Mormon's believe in conversion of the dead.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:15 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.