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. Thanos

    You would think that God would actually show up by now and stop this madness. Can't he speak on his own behalf? As in show up and prove his existence, not read something dead men wrote thousands of years ago. If he is so powerful, he can speak for himself. Not have an entire group of people defend him. Where is he? .................... ..................... ........................ As we all suspected, nothing.

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

      Wow -you have quite the confidence to talk "tuff guy" stuff to God.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Word god is short of pagan deity goad, the belly, every one has one, pay attention to it hindu's, ignorant, followers of hindu soul, filthy desire, not truth absolute, our Lord.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Loki

      Until your force is mine to command...you have but words.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Grundigg

      God already spoke and asked us to stop doing these things, but as usual we just keep on doing it wrong. Thus why we need to keep to the rules and stop thinking we know more than God Himself...

      July 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  2. TOMG


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

      dude lay off the drugs

      July 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  3. Rodney

    CNN, stop asking stupid questions.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  4. Logic

    God Does not exist.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Your proof sir? I've been told the one who makes the claim is burdened with the proof of his assertion.

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

      god is omnipotent he knew I was going to type this billions of years ago. but god gave us free will, but if it is already predetermined that I will type this billions of years ago then it is not free will ergo god does not exist.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  5. ernesto

    if you keep waiting for god,we will have more massacres

    July 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  6. mig

    If you are an adult and still have an imaginary friend, then you NEED to go see a special kind of doctor who will admit you to a special kind of hospital. a hospital where you can get the help you need.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      And if you do go there, it will probably be staffed with Christian and established by the church.

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

      then what's the point

      July 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  7. geckopelli

    He was in your dreams, like he's always been.

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


    July 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  9. BRaob

    It's so clear in the Bible, God was in control but showing his anger against humanity – it's going to be too late when people understand the the Bible was and will always be right :
    1 Romans (ERV) v 18-24 & 28-32

    18 God shows his anger from heaven against all the evil and wrong things that people do. Their evil lives hide the truth they have. 19 This makes God angry because they have been shown what he is like. Yes, God has made it clear to them.

    20 There are things about God that people cannot see—his eternal power and all that makes him God. But since the beginning of the world, those things have been easy for people to understand. They are made clear in what God has made. So people have no excuse for the evil they do.

    21 People knew God, but they did not honor him as God, and they did not thank him. Their ideas were all useless. There was not one good thought left in their foolish minds. 22 They said they were wise, but they became fools. 23 Instead of honoring the divine greatness of God, who lives forever, they traded it for the worship of idols—things made to look like humans, who get sick and die, or like birds, animals, and snakes.

    24 People wanted only to do evil. So God left them and let them go their sinful way. And so they became completely immoral and used their bodies in shameful ways with each other. 25 They traded the truth of God for a lie. They bowed down and worshiped the things God made instead of worshiping the God who made those things. He is the one who should be praised forever. Amen.

    28 People did not think it was important to have a true knowledge of God. So God left them and allowed them to have their own worthless thinking. And so they do what they should not do. 29 They are filled with every kind of sin, evil, greed, and hatred. They are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, lying, and thinking the worst things about each other. They gossip 30 and say evil things about each other. They hate God. They are rude, proud, and brag about themselves. They invent ways of doing evil. They don’t obey their parents, 31 they are foolish, they don’t keep their promises, and they show no kindness or mercy to others. 32 They know God’s law says that anyone who lives like that should die. But they not only continue to do these things themselves, but they also encourage others who do them.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • yeahalright

      And god created us no?

      Sounds like he should be ticked at himself.

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

      the bible has never been right! not once. learn to live in the 21st century.

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

      Have you ever stopped to think that all those Bible verses are just made up stories?

      If God was in control, than nothing would ever happen that he didn't want to happen, right? But those verses talk about how God is "in control" by going postal on people who are doing things that he didn't want. If they are doing things he didn't want – than he's not in control is he???

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

      Do you suppose that the 6 year old that was killed in this shooting ever had a chance to fully understand the bible?

      Or do you suppose she was one of the "satanic ones" who was rude and proud and denied God and that was why God took her life before she was ever able to experience love, marriage, children, happiness?

      Stop judging others in order to console yourself. It's not Christ-like, it's the opposite. It's devilish and cruel.

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

      The Fred Phelps Academy of Theological BS has spoken

      July 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • fintastic

      One big load of poopy...........

      July 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • elopez

      It seems you've studied up on the bible quite a bit. Good for you. I wonder if it has allowed to read other books, more modern, fact based representations of our reality? I bet it would sound pretty silly if I started quoting the Odyssey as a moral handbook handed by the gods, instead of what it is: a cool story painting the world of it's day. I suggest you step forth into modernity, and look to solve things in a pragmatic, realistic way, not looking for holy wisdom from the Abrahamic Odyssey. And yes, this is my country also, and I can say these things.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • be_serious

      This tragedy was not part of God's plan. There is no plan and there is no God. There is nobody upstairs pulling the strings, and as difficult as that seems at times, it is the truth.

      Not only do I not believe there is a god (because there is 0 evidence to make me believe so), but I don't think anyone else *really* does either. You may say you do, but if you think hard about why you say that, your reasons will come up lacking, and definitely tied to human needs, not divine revelation.

      I give people way too much credit to think anyone really believes in an obvious fairy tale designed to control the masses. It is just more convenient to go with the flow for most.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  10. Nicole

    My heart goes out to the victims and families of this horrible incident; it also needs to be said that this is not the first tragedy to occur in history at the hands of men.
    This incident should not be looked at as "proof" of anything new, since the incident itself is not new. God is not present or absent any more than hundreds of years ago, when massacres were happening just as they happen now. Just because this one happens in your lifetime and feels more personal to you, doesn't make it special.
    People need to stop reading into things so much and deal with the cold hard facts. People should be having conversations about gun control, mental illness, violence in young men, etc.; not abstract ideas that have been around for ages through all types of tragedies. Human judgement hasn't gotten us very far, maybe we should try for openness and understanding.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  11. Ethan

    LOL, God does not exist. What a huge waste of time this whole article/discussion is.

    Stop discussing why God didn't do anything...it's foolish and ignorant. It's time this country embraces and accepts SCIENCE and leaves religion behind.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      ooh he blinded me with...SCIENCE!

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

      Right on!

      July 25, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  12. Gohek

    And just so we're all clear here, the true religoin wouldn't have priests and pastors talking about peace one day, then supporting wars and politics the next day

    July 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  13. Stacy

    David Hart's response to "Where was God in the Tsunami" is the best I've ever read.


    July 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  14. cinqo

    remember what bush said? answer: not under my watch.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  15. Theyon

    Systematically murdering African babies, where else?

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

    God is as real as Santa Claus. Religion truly is the opiate of the masses.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  17. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  18. David Crosby

    God is not real...That is why he never does anything....

    July 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  19. Drew

    I think it ridiculous to blame this tragedy on anyone or anything–be it our liberalmindedness, our lack of religion, a lack of god, an evil god, etc. Though it is difficult, impossible sometimes, to accept that evil exists in this world, I think it necessary to realize that our own imperfections and the imperfections in others are important. Imperfection, hatred, violence, evil, exist so that we might recognize goodness when it strikes us. If everything was good and perfect all the time wouldn't we be rather bored? And boredom, I think, leads to bitterness. But when we are miserable and find happiness, then we truly rejoice in that happiness–whether to a god or to an energy source or simply to creation.

    In this country we have freedom of religion–and that means freedom from religion as well. But we must not blame misfortune on an absence of religion. That gets too messy. We must accept, without question, the beliefs of all people (atheists, Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, Buddhists, Baptists, crazies) if we are to call ourselves a tolerant and free nation. This tragedy is the fault of no one but the terrorist who committed the crime, and God, who I fervently believe exists, was present, as he is omnipresent. He was present and with the victims but, so as not to disrupt our own free will, and thus disrupt the possibility of recognizing goodness, let take place what need take place. This is not a reasonable argument for the non-existence of God. "Why would a god let something like this happen?" Because we all die–somehow or other we all die, and in death we find peace, in death we find reconciliation and freedom from this life. Is not life an enormous trap? It is sad for us to see them pass, but I believe that in death we, they, find new life. I really do. And I thank God for it.

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

      Very well said. May God comfort the friends and families of these innocent souls.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • rjp34652

      DON'T BLAME THE TRAGEDY ON ANYTHING? Here is the epitomy of American moral evasion published for all to see. Is there no desire for justice here?
      Someone is to blame. Somebody is always to blame. ALWAYS.

      It is for JUSTICE to seek out the guilty and PUNISH it.

      If nobody is to blame, then open the jails and the prisons and release all who inhabit those dark halls. If there is no justice to be dished out, then mayhem and chaos will rule the streets. Those who deny justice are simply too fat and lazy and stupid to see that it is a necessary evil to civilized man.

      Somebody is always to blame. Somebody is always on the hook for evil. Somebody HAS TO PAY.

      but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft...

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

      the concept of good and evil are moral concept, yet both exist naturally within human beings, and will vary from culture to culture. Some see death as the ultimate justice for evil doers, some see death as the a release from the pain and suffering of this world. It's all very subjective, depending on one's perception, and culture.

      There is no true and definite God, God itself was said to be good but was also shown to be wrathful, and vengeful. These are human traits, not beholden to a god that gave man free will, and didn't step in when the supposed serpent was in his garden to tempt adam and eve. But God if omniscient , could warn Adam not to eat of the apple but not get the serpent out the garden of eden. You would have to ask yourself to what end is all of this? Is this all some unquestionable plan, or someone just bored wanted some form of entertainment but seeing people suffer.

      It all seems like convenient absenteeism. God is the guiding hand, the wrathful, avenger, and benevolent overseer. In the stories told it's not even possible for god to be all of these things. So we take what we like of god and throw out the stuff we don't, God is then shaped and molded into whatever images, whatever morals we like. As with his many incarnation we discard the images of God we don't. This is seen through the various religions speaking of the one true God.

      We would all like to think that Human nature is inherently good, that people will generally do good thing on instinct and not bad, but given our history, very long, and bloody we know that not to be the case at all. Man can be just as good or as evil as man needs or wants to be. So to say this is god's doing, in a sense it's true, if you believe in god, he did set all of this in motion, and knew the outcome before anyone else and did nothing to stop it. No one could understand or justify this. Because this COULD be part of some greater plan with a lesson at the end, like the many bible stories. If you don't believe in God, this is just a Human beings doing what Humans do, it has happened before and will happen again, as it has been for the past several years. Man by nature will try to understand it, not just define it, because that is also in our nature. At the end of the day, there is no real Good or Evil here, no God, no Devil to blame. It simply just is, and we have to deal with it.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  20. rjp34652

    According to the Bible, when a nation turns its back on God (as America has done), the nation or person is given over to satan for destruction of the flesh and its works. The only reversal to this process is for a nation or a person to humble themselves before God and ask forgiveness.

    But pride goes before a fall, says the Good Book, and this country WILL NOT repent of its wickedness. America has forgotten God and judgment is upon us. Evidence of arrogance and pride are all around us. Love and humility and liberty are passe. No one seeks these things any more. Instead America suffers under a growing weight of violence, arrogance and repression.

    but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft....

    July 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • just sayin

      Can you give me the date and time that we turned our back on God?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Considering that atheists make up only a very small percentage of America, how is it exactly that America has turned from God?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • elopez

      The US, by far, is the most religious developed country. It has the most churches by square mile. How can you say we have stopped following a God, when all the evidence points to the contrary? Why do less religious developed countries have much less violent crimes? Give me freedom from religion, if anything. And yes, this is also my country, so I can say that.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Theyon

      Would you mind giving an example? Are you referring to the lack of love in our refusal as a country to permit gay marriage? Because I agree, limiting the rights of loving couples is definitively wicked.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • fintastic

      How can you turn from something that doesn't exsist?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • rjp34652

      Dear Just Sayin:
      Date & time for US turning away from God is gradual, so there is no day or hour but statistics can bear out trends. According the the Gallup Poll church attendance in 201 is 43% of 1948 levels. According to Christianity Today its 25%. According to actual head counts its more like 17%.

      Date for the beginning of divine judgment is more precise; September 16, 1985. Major dates after that are 9/11/01 and the biggest one of all is October 26, 2001 (similar to 02/23/33 & 03/24/33).

      What happened on those dates? Do you homework.

      its me again, hollering from the choir loft.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Sifleut

      You lost all credibility when you said, "According to the bible".

      July 25, 2012 at 5:09 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.