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. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  2. surrenderfaith

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”

    Epicurus – Greek philosopher, BC 341-270

    July 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Here a Little, There a Little

      Those are fairly sweeping assumptions and the arguments are overreaching. The most likely scenario is that he has his own purposes for not invervening, which he chooses not to share with you, though may or may not choose to share with others.

      Think on it.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Here a Little, There a Little

      Is he both able and willing?
      Then whence cometh evil?

      Must God truely come to the temporal and bodily aid of all who are frought with peril in order to avoid being called "evil?" Would he have no higher purpose to his/her/its or their own existence in the cosmos in allowing men their freedom to choose their actions, and the consequences of those actions, for themselves?

      I think it clear God has a higher purpose he is focused on with allowing men to choose good or evil for themselves. The innocent that are harmed by horrific acts as a result of this freedom of choice are taken to his peace, glory and rest. Meanwhile, no man can accuse God of being unjust for the eventual judgements of God that will eventually be borne by the wicked as a result of their choices.

      It is all about personal accountability with God. Why? Because he desires his children to learn. Why and learn what? That is a discussion for another day.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  3. waterman

    he belief that an infinitely old, all-knowing sky-god, powerful enough to
    create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, cares about how much skin I have on my member = Judaism.

    Judaism + a belief that the same god impregnated a virgin with himself to
    give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to negate a
    rule he himself made = Christianity.

    Christianity + a belief that the secrets of the Universe were revealed to a
    failed conman and treasure hunter in upstate New York, that performing a ritual
    in a temple in Salt Lake City will cause dead people to be admitted into a
    happy after-life kingdom and that an Israeli tribe colonized America =

    July 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  4. Prison sects

    Let's just pretend god is real. He is either incapable or just a d*ck. I don't care for either option. Takes credit for all good, then says his hands are tied for the bad.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  5. paperwaster

    there is no god. just people and their decisions.
    TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your own actions.
    NATURE IS NATURE and there is no old dude in the sky controlling it.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  6. jbeckerlongway

    Lenny and Jesse R are so right in what tthey wrote. Couldn't of said it any better.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  7. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  8. virginia

    How come some here are streemely sure the people that got shot were not evil and none in that theater were evil they were 100% pure of heart and God believers, only holmes was the one who wan't pure of heart, who in their right mind can attest to the purity in the hearts of all those present during the shoting...is it the when tragedy strike we automaticaly become pure of heart on the sight of danger to our lifes????this too don't make sense

    July 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  9. philip

    to all, "GOD" didn't let that happen, we did, we make the weapons, we fill the air ways with extreme violence and colorful crime. we, we as a society pollute this world with deranged fantasy. "GOD" permitted it because of the free will "HE" gave us. "HE" gave us a gift above all life on earth and this is how we as a race say thank you. once again we failed.............

    July 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Perhaps he has given us over to the desires of our flesh

      July 25, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • jamy

      Amen Philip..

      July 25, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • philip

      bill we have given ourselves over to the evil desires of the flesh.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  10. TC

    161 pages of comments and they all sum up to these few :
    1. God doesn't exist
    2. God allows freewill
    3. God allowed it as punishment or the devil did it.

    I beleive in #2 and you have the righ tand freewill to believe in whatever one you want.

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

      you are an idot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • K-switch

      Laura Koran needs to watch out, potential speed read author right here.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      I believe in whatever the preponderance of evidence indicates. "God" is not in any of the options.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • philip

      sorry "IDIOT"

      July 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  11. ANITA

    God was there beacause if the neighbour would have opened the door the explosion would have caused chaos and all emergency personnel would be busy trying to ha ndle the fire caused by explosion and the maniac would have killed hundreds of people instead of 12.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  12. Kizidek

    God gave the freedom to choose and a Universe to do it in. God made the weapon jam. God made people protect others. God caught the murderer and delivered him to justice. God foiled the booby trap. God is the Mercy on the the souls. God is the consolation of healing in the community and the strength to not be defeated by ignorance and hatred. God is the forgiveness.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      LOL I was at the gun range last night and my .45 jammed twice, Failure to Eject brass. Did god do this to me? Why????

      July 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      So, you're saying "God" made twelve people die and others be crippled for life. "God" sucks.

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

    This pastor has his motives and survival instincts of promoting the 'Lord's message. So, it is just a commercial plug for the religion by one of its endorsers. Very much like Bob Dole for Viagara. Nothing more ... nothing less.

    Guns kill people. People with guns kill people. But for the military (which is another debate in itself), no one else should have such weapons. Christianity, Jesus etc trivialize this issue and focus attention elsewhere.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So Syrian civilians shouldn't have guns? What about American revolutionaries? French Freedom fighters?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  14. Marissa1980

    God doesn't exist so he wasn't there!
    wake up call for all of You! church wants your money plain and simple!
    there is not a magic person out there or anywhere,
    I'm an atheist and I'm a good person and so You all know I haven't heard of an atheist that
    go insane and kill people! we all need to leave that God that doesn't exist to the side and live this life happy
    and do our best to do good to others becouse is the only life we are going to have! peace 🙂 and excuse my english spelling by english by the way ,

    July 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Here a Little, There a Little

      Why is it more noble or enlightened to believe in a magical, unproven, and unprovable primordial pool than a supreme being?

      Prove me where and when and how your magical pool where inanimate rocks humped with carbon matter to created the first DNA on earth, which then took in elements matter and material from would would have been the harshest and most extreme environment known to any life on the history of the planet and somehow, magically, created the frist cell...which survived and, in turn, became the progenitor of every animal and plant lifeform on this rock.

      Your belief systems are no less fantastical than those of others. You are, indeed, in the same boat as theists with your worldview. Prove to me that this magical pool not only did at one time or even if could in all likelihood have existed. What that? It is never been proven? Then I wouldn't believe it either.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  15. artistgus

    Where was God:

    God was in the firing mechanism of that rifle that jammed. He was on the shoulder of each person who dove in front of someone to protect them. He was holding the little girl, whose hand, went in Jesus, to Heaven. He was in the squad cars of the men who drove breakneck speed to get there, and protect them. God has given us free will, and we as a nation, have taken him away, from our schools, our homes, our lives. Instead we scream about our rights being taken away, if we make it illegal to own these devices that will forever cause these problems. God was there. And I am sure, he wept, along with the rest of our nation, over the senselessness of it all. The senselessness of a young man who, for whatever reason, found himself loaded with enough artillary to KILL many more in a movie theater. America is reaping what they sow. our rights have become our bible. To borrow the words of Michael Moore, we have become a country of, "It wasn't me". God Bless.

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

      God On their shoulders, huh? Not for long, since they got shot. God must have bailed as soon as he saw the extent of ammunition.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "God was in the firing mechanism of that rifle that jammed."

      LOL are people this r3tard3d? My gun jammed on me last night at the range, twice, failure to eject brass. Why did god do this to me? Why did i deserve to have to clear my jams instead of having a failure-free shooting session? WHY?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • lee

      If your god was on peoples shoulders in the very room, yet let a 6 year-old, among others, die then your god sucks.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Madtown

      God has given us free will, and we as a nation, have taken him away, from our schools.......
      Yes, as the founders of this nation designed.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Adam

      hmm. i see. and to the 12 people that were killed, just a big **** YOU from god?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " Instead we scream about our rights being taken away, if we make it illegal to own these devices that will forever cause these problems." What devices? Movie projectors? Popcorn poppers? Fingernail clippers?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • jamy

      Way to say truth.. aristgus.. God Bless:)

      July 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  16. lewis

    More like were was the devil ?

    July 25, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  17. atello

    Firstly, I would like to give my deepest condolences to those lost on 7/20/12...

    I think religion has misconstrued who God really is. For instance: The Old Testament God is completely different than the New Testament God. All of a sudden, 2000 plus years ago, God changes his mind on how he treats man and sends his son to save their sins?! Are we saying our all knowing God, who knows everything, changed his mind? I think not.

    I believe God knows good and evil, but doesn't abide by those constraints. He created both good and evil, creation and destruction, life and death, etc. It is our duty to choose which of these laws to abide by. What fundamental beliefs man kind adopts either assures peace, prosperity, and life for man or war, destruction and death (and ultimately our extinction)

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

      Actually, He didn't change his mind at all. If you read the Bible, the coming of the Messiah was prophesied from the beginning. So if he hadn't sent his Son to save us from our sins, that would've been changing his mind!

      July 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "Actually, He didn't change his mind at all. If you read the Bible, the coming of the Messiah was prophesied from the beginning. So if he hadn't sent his Son to save us from our sins, that would've been changing his mind!"

      all according to what man wrote. God had no hand in writing those pages. Men did. Men edited that book to fit their agenda. remember that the next time you read a passage.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  18. IslandAtheist

    The same place as Batman.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      In the Batcave?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  19. pooryorick23

    I mean this is the biggest question of life – why is there suffering and evil? As a Christian, I believe that God allows these tragedies. He does not wish them to occur. They're a consequence of human freedom.

    But Jesus used an opportunity like this to make the questions personal (Luke 13). Have you repented of your sins? What is your manner of life? Are you loving and serving others?

    We can't answer the biggest questions, so we have to make do with trying to live a life to answer the personal ones.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  20. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 3:55 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.