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. Wayfaring Stranger

    Same place he is while we choose to abort our innocent children. Watching.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  2. DalcassianKnight

    I don't believe in Dentists. How could Dentists be real when there's so much tooth decay and gum disease in the world. If Dentists were real, they surely wouldn't permit all those horrific mouth diseases.

    So, let's blame God on every evil act that we humans do. It's much easier and more convenient to blame Him rather than point the finger at those who are really responsible. So many Aethiests like to ridicule Christians for their beliefs..It somehow makes them feel better about themselves. They seem to get very defensive and angry when talking about God or Christianity. ANd when crises happen, they see them as a reason to hate or dismiss God's existence or His power.

    Where were all of YOU when this tragedy took place. Should we blame all of YOU for this too?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      explain why when things are all GRAVY that god gets the credit, but when things go bad he is exonerated?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      The problem with your analogy is that no one is saying that there is one true Dentist who claims to be perfectly benevolent and all-knowing and watches over all the teeth in every mouth. If there was, than rampant tooth decay would certainly be a great reason to doubt this deified Dentist.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  3. Redeye Dog

    Geez.... The media has run out of people to blame!! Blame God for another story, another reaction... The media is out of control!!

    July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  4. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  5. Albie

    God was EVERYWHERE. "He" was in the shooter, in the victims, in the survivors, in the weaponry, .... in everything! Isn't that what omnipresence really means? I look at good and evil as flip-sides of "the same coin". Why did it happen? Who knows! It's just how the Universe is. I see no favorites in "God's Plan".... it just is what it is!!! We all have the potential to express good or evil. This shooter chose the latter.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  6. Liv

    There’s a story about a Christian man who went to the barber to get his hair cut and his beard shaved. The barber was an unbeliever and was voicing his opinions on God. “Why would God let so many people die every day?” The Christian man said nothing. The barber continued on to say, “It’s evident that God doesn’t care about the world and that He probably doesn’t even exist. He doesn’t help the ones who are suffering or hurting so how can He exist?”

    Outside, a man walked by with straggly hair and a dirty unkempt beard.

    The Christian man spoke for the first time. “Well, based on your theory, then barbers don’t exist either.” The barber stared at him, confused. The Christian gestured to the man outside and turned to the barber, “Look at that man out there, why don’t you call him in? He’s in dire need of a shave and a haircut and you claim to be a barber. If there’s really such thing as a barber then there wouldn’t be people with long hair and beards like that.” The barber snorted, “Well the problem is, is that they don’t come to me to trim their beards and cut their hair.” The Christian man turned to him, nodding. “Right. Well it’s the same thing with God. If the people of this world don’t come to Him for help, how can He help them?”

    America was founded on Christian principles and morals. It once was a nation that turned to God in the good times and the bad. Now, America has forsaken Him. They turn to Him when terrible things happen, blaming Him, asking Him why. What about the good times? Did they get down on their knees to thank Him? Thank Him for life, for health, for waking up each morning? These trials only come to make us stronger. They come to make our faith stronger and our trust in Him stronger.

    Don’t forsake Him America. He feels what the mourners are feeling, He's hurting just like them. He loves us, even when we don’t love Him.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • DalcassianKnight

      Amen sister. You're 100% right.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Alia

      Nations don't get saved, they can't go to Hell or Heaven, people do.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Oops


      Ok, here's the deal. Your analogy along with the whole "there can't be dentists if there's gum disease" is just foolish. Barbers and Dentists don't claim to be perfect, nor do they claim to be all powerful. All they have is their skill in doing a service. God on the other hand is supposed to be omnipotent, he's supposed to have love for every creature.

      Your post basically said, there's evil in the world because people need to ask to stop evil, but have people not done that before? Has evil happened to you since you started believing in god?

      Instead of making stupid, asinine metaphors that don't make sense nor do they apply, try thinking about what it actually means to have a tragedy like this occur (or any tragedy really) and honestly ask why an omnipotent being was not powerful enough to stop it?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • JT

      Really? That's the best you can do? Trite stories of how idiotic atheists can be next to your godly "wisdom." Your comparing apples to oranges and the analogy is stupid.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Liv

      @alia you've obviously missed the whole point of the story. I'm not talking about nations as a whole. I'm talking about people.
      @oops and @JT Really? You guys don't like my analogy? Did you guys get the moral of the story? Did you understand what it was trying to portray? How can you expect God to help you, if you don't care about him? He's not apart of your everyday life, he's nothing to you. God loves us. A lot of us don't care about him AT ALL. But we want Him to cater to us in everything we do. God wasn't the one that shot those people in Aurora. The devil did that. How can you blame God for the bad things that happened in this world when He was the one who created you?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  7. Wyatt

    In the debate about God which occurs on CNN Belief Blog it’s always a mystery to me as to why so many say there is no God and everything is morally relative then when something that does not fit the moral relativist view happens, (like the shooting in Aurora,) we look at God for answers. Either there is right and wrong, good or evil based on the moral code of the Word of God or there is not. Otherwise the whole discussion is irrelevant. There would be no right or wrong except that in my own eyes.

    The fact is that all people are born with a conscience, and we all instinctively know when we have been wronged or when we have wronged others. We act as though we expect others to recognize this as well. However if God is not you moral compass don’t make him you punching bag when the world does not act in the way you think is fair. Moral relativism does not provide us with a standard to judge the actions of others or other cultures, leaving us with no intelligible difference between the good or evil actions of other cultures or individuals.

    If moral relativism is true, we cannot judge another’s actions as morally wrong. However if the standard is “Thou shall not kill” then the Aurora shooter truly has a divine judgment against his ungodly deeds coming.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  8. Observer

    Infinitely wise and just, God has decided that this cold-blooded murderer of adults and children should suffer the IDENTICAL PUNISHMENT as consenting adults for what they do alone in the privacy of their bedroom.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Rob

      What the HELL are you talking about?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • JWT

      Noone ever said that god was moral.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Albie


      July 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  9. Ruben Vega

    i am a Christian and God gave humans free will to do good or evil. if you believe in God, Earth is the closest you'll get to hell and if you dont believe in God, Earth is the closest you'll get to Heaven.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      scary....i want what youre smokin.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  10. Rob

    Let the religious cowards fight amongst themselves. Those of us with brains, in 2012, believe in reality. God doesn't exist, as the religious claim "it" does. Get a clue already.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  11. Dan

    God gave us freewill.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Notahuman

      If he gave humans freewill, why were Adam and Eve forced to have children without the concept of falling in love? If they were married in the eyes of god, without a priest, why do we need priests now?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  12. robinhood

    Religion is for the weak minded who wish to approach every issue with the mindset of a child basically saying..."I can not comprehend it so an imaginary being did it." Science for instance...the same stuff their religious forefathers deemed as witchcraft or sorcery has been the catalyst to the technology they use today. Spoken across microphones or sent as data across the Internet, their message continues on while morphing. I feel that if people need something unseen to believe in, let me be science. While religion has yet to prove itself, science has been consistently proven.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  13. cinqo

    cinema killer occured "under obama watch". never under george w bush watch. never.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Notahuman

      Nope, but those school kids sure had a good book read to them while planes were flying into buildings.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  14. Leo

    Matthew 24

    6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.

    7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.

    8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

    9 “ Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

    10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.

    11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

    12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

    13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

    14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Liv


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


      Name a point in time that these things weren't happening. Nice vague statements are the reason prophesies are said to be fullfilled. The more open to interpretation of time, places, and people, the easier it is to claim the fullfillment of a prophesy.

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

      People who don't believe in God think they rule the world. They refuse to worship the GOOD God who made them in favor of worshipping themselves.
      Everything you said is true. And since we are now in the End Times and the GREAT CHASTISEMENT is almost here I think the NON-believers are in for a real shake-up.

      Forget Global Warming – the world including America – has snubbed it's collective nose at God and said quite clearly, WE DON'T NEED YOU! So God will reduce more and more control of the things He has controlled for so long to keep the earth in check.
      DON'T whine about "The worst flooding" "The biggest giant hailstones" " The earliest and most violent Tornados and Hurricanes – the landslips, Earthquakes, Droughts, Tsunamis etc etc........Expect more and WORSE – After all you ASKED for it. YOU told God He wasn't needed, you'll be sorry! All you have to do is follow the RULES in the 10 Commandments; Obey Jesus when He said "I have a new commandment for you; Love one another as I have loved you."

      If you want peace, clement weather and health – TELL GOD YOU LOVE HIM AND NEED HIM. You'll see the difference.

      I wish all here Peace, Love and God's Blessing on you and yours.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      All I could do was laugh at your post. Thank you for the entertainment.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Leo

      Hawaii, The Gospel of the Kingdom is nearly completed!! Hang on baby!!

      July 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Leo

      Hawaii, The Gospel of the Kingdom is nearly completed!! Hang on baby!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Typical. Ignore the question and continue making assertions like that will magically make you right. Leo it seems like you haven't changed at all.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  15. Alia

    Why thank Him when good things happen when a more human source is likely responsible but place blame elsewhere when bad things do? It has to be one or the other, you can't have it both ways, where only God is responsible when awesome things happen but only humans are responsible when terrible things do. That's lunacy.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      no - thats Christianity

      July 25, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  16. austin

    Weeeeeell.....Man wants to make sense of certain events,and give meaning to his life so he creates religion. Religion-especially Christianity- is a logically paradoxical/fallacious, philosophically pitiful attempt at explaining metaphysical phenomena..Rather than make up stories like children to explain events outside of our spiritual/intellectual capacity to understand, why can't we collectively take the mature adult stance and just say "WE DONT KNOW"

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


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

    I find it incredible that the very people that shout all about letting people be who they are, marry who they want, believe what they want, celebrate our diversity, etc., are the very same people that curse and ridicule a person for his belief in God. In America, we show tolerance for other peoples' customs and traditions and treat our "different" neighbors with respect, but if someone believes in God, these "tolerant" people rage, hiss, and curse.

    Fortunately, Christians, when you get attacked it is a sign that you are doing something right. Jesus said if you lived as he did you would suffer as he did.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Veritas

      That's absolutely TRUE, Julie. Well said and God Bless you

      July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Madtown

      Easy there Julie. You were doing fine until you mentioned Jesus. It's fine to believe what you want to believe, but when you start talking about specific flavors of religion, that's where we start to get into trouble. Because, the assertion is always something like "my religion is the truth......yours is false". Why not just believe in God? You don't need religion to do so. Many, many people in this world will never ever hear of Jesus, so how could christianity be the only way? Or, do you really believe that people born into a place in the world where christianity is practiced are just that much more special?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      Jesus didnt write those words...MEN did. read up on the history of your religion please.

      And before you go there, no...they weren't inspired by god. They only said they were.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Notahuman

      That is because you shove it down peoples throat! You worship God! We are a country that doesn't recognize one god over another. When you claim God in this nations god, you go against the very rules this country was founded on. Praise all you want, don't expect everyone else to call it by the same name or to believe the same things. This country is suppose to be about acceptance; but it is the religious people that push their agendas on everyone, mainly Christians! If that isn't the case, then give up on the abortion battles, give up on putting your God's name on currency each American uses, give up on putting up christian scriptures up on government buildings or erecting statues with biblical meanings in government facilities. Separation of church and state was to make sure that we honor our Fore-Fathers wishes, freedom of religion!

      July 25, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • JT

      No it's not true. We don't care about your beliefs, really, honestly. But don't make me abide by your insanity just because you feel it should be done that way. For all the talk of god on this post, I have yet to see anyone say something of real substance as to what we can do as a society that is actionable and has real world consequences (such as changing laws perhaps?). I'll be right there with you if you want to actually do something about it other than complain about how this world is going to hell in a handbasket with your god.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  19. Travis Turnage

    He was right there keeping the people that made it out safe from the evil that is inevitably present in this world!

    July 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  20. Jennifer

    Where was God?

    I believe that God was in the theater protecting and comforting the innocent. Hold the hands and comforting those injured and dying and leading others to safety.
    I believe God made the gun jam so that evil couldn't continue to harm others.
    I believe God was with the police officers at evil's apt. Helping them disarm the bombs without anyone there being injured.
    He was in that theater, even though a terrible thing took place.
    Job, (see the Bible) suffered major losses people, his entire family, farm, livestock and eventually his own person was attacked by Satan himself, and yet he didn't whine and complain. Instead he sang of God's praises and prayed. He was faithful.
    If anyone ever asks why me, they need a reality check. God doesn't promise a happy go lucky life, full of wealth and health. Instead he promises everlasting life in Heaven IF you accept him as your Savior.
    Instead of asking where was God, try asking where have I been? Have I been serving him as I should be?
    This horrible act wasn't a punishment by God in any way shape or form. It was an evil act by an evil person. Simply that.
    Stop blaming God.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Veritas

      People who blame God for the actions of a man who spent months planning this horror, are letting HOLMES OFF THE HOOK.
      If you truly think no-one is to blame for any vicious act – why have Prisons; why have Judges and Juries? why TRY A CRIMINAL if it's not his choice / not his fault / not his responsiblity.................You make me sick with your evil stupidity. YOU are doing Satan's work with these comments – and all HE wants is more company in HELL!

      July 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • alsha


      July 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214
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.