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. Emilio Dumphuque

    He was at home, washing his tights!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Enrique

      Or fapping!!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  2. Tikadu

    The question is moot - there is no god.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  3. John

    What I find most ironic is that people of a religious persuasion are always able to come out on top by simply taking the upside of a religious argument. It it works out on their behalf it is proof that God exists. If not, well you know, it was all part of God's plan.

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


    July 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Q

      Ignored, obviously.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  5. Alan

    If god was there and allowed this to happen then he is evil.

    More likely, imho, he was not there, he was not anywhere. He doesn't exist except in the minds of some people.

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

      WOW, wake up

      July 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  6. pastornc

    First let us as Christians express our sympathy and compassion at this time for those affected by this tragedy, second let us offer up our prayers that they may be comforted and consoled. We all know that the rain falls on the good and the bad, there is nothing new in that. The answer as to where was God, He was in that movie theater, helping His children deal with the tragedy. too many people want it both ways the right to deny that God exists and to do as they please, then when tragedy comes they expect a God that they deny to be in control and take everybody and control them like puppets on a string. We all have free will and how I act on my behalf with my free will affects everyone around me, either to the good or to the bad. This shooter acted on his free will and lashed out against the innocent killing and injuring, he chose to not to recognize a higher authority and he will face his judgement, for vengence is mine sayeth the Lord. yet, where was God for those who were his children and those too young to know better He was right there with them, helping them deal with the crisis coming at them. While the shooter sits behind bars, God is still at that theater, in the homes, in the hospitals, giving comfort, consoling, loving and guiding the physicians in their care for the injured. When a person chooses to sin, both he and the people around him have to face the consequences of that sin. Their relationship with God determines how they face it, watch and you will see the goodness of God show in His true children. you will see the hate, judgement and lashing out by those who are not. Where will God be tomorrow, right there in Aurora, Co. and the next day, and the next. God loves His creation and hates to see it suffer, yet we as sinful people make each other suffer everyday. We live in a free country, with that freedom comes responsibility for our actions, not the right to do as we please, for in our responsibility we must make sure we do not infringe upon the rights of others. Let's stop arguing, quit whining, and self justifying. Let's just love the people that are hurting at this time and take care of them. That is the Christian and responsible thing to do at this time.

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

      Well written. Thank you for your sound thoughts. Only if men would come and sit down and ponder even think wisely of the LOVE OF GOD in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus the Christ said "AND YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE" and He is that Truth that opens the blind eyes of men to see clearly the AMAZING LOVE OF GOD even Christ to men.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  7. MARK


    July 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      How utterly stupid. And typing in all caps just make you look like an imbecile. It all just sounds like blah blah blah to me anyway. Ignorant superst!tious nonsense.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  8. Josef Bleaux

    I'm an agnostic. But I see absolutely no evidence whatever of any supernatural being in the sky. (I don't count the bible, it's just ancient mythology like all other religious texts). I've been told it's a matter of faith. Well, I do have faith that if such a being does exist, call it god, supreme being, intelligent creator or what have you, Ithat he/she/it is nothing like the horrible god depicted in the bible, sending billions of people to be tortured forever, simply for being raised in a different faith, or having enough intelligence to not blindly accept ancient mythology. Nothing like the god of the bible that orders the murder and enslavement of thousands of women and children (Numbers: 31). How anyone in their right mind could believe that kind of nonsense is beyond me.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  9. Hbs

    Guru Granth Sahib says "Eh bhana vartya hai ! Eh bhana mano!"
    This is the verdict of God, accept it! No option!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  10. Jay Stevens

    God was wherever you imagined god to have been. If you imagine there is no god, then god wasn't there at all. It you imagine there is god, then why god does what god does is probably beyond the knowledge of morals.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  11. Ally

    Our God is a merciful God. To say he isnt just because of a shooting is ridiculous. He allowed his own son to be killed for the betterment of the world. There is nothing that says we should understand these things, but our Godly bodies are just a small part of this journey to our eternal home in heaven. The pain and suffering felt by us here on earth after the disaster is not being felt by those that were lost, they are in their forever home – heaven. Of course we feel like their lives have been cut short, but the truth is that God never said that life would be easy. But questioning him and what happened in Aurora is just a part of the grieving process and as time passes so will this. Make every effort you can to live a life so that one day you can join the victims in Heaven. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

    July 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Ignorant superst!tious nonsense.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  12. Enrique

    There is no loving god who will help us, grow up people. Those lost sheep hearers sure have you all fooled!!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Kevin Alexander

      Consider this: Wouldn't it be better to seem crazy by believing in God than to not believe in Him ? If I'm wrong, no harm no foul, however, if you're wrong, spending an eternity in Hell is no laughing matter. God loves all of man-kind, however, he will not mingle with sin; he became sin for us once and for all and that one time was the only time he will die for our sins. Believe in him. He loves you. Sin is what causes all of us to suffer the effects of it while living here on this earth.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  13. Alan

    Would I worship a God who would say 'Worship me or die!" I don't think so. That same tyranical God may also say "Worship me and everything will be all right!" They are both comments designed to control and are contrary to the notion of free will.

    The Father does not dictate our actions. We make our own decisions and create our own culture.

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

      We do have free will- because God let it be done- a comparison or in your case a contradiction of the two ideals as two extremely opposing views, just looks like ignorance to me.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  14. Bob R

    God was in the man who threw himself in front of a friend, sacrificing his life for the sake of another's.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  15. Marc Brandon Ayers

    Where was God?....... I would believe he was welcoming them home...with a big..big embrace.

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

      Then I guess we should be happy for the victims, right?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  16. InfiniteTruth

    Interesting, here is my take:

    "God" is supposed to be all knowing, all good, the side you should strive to be, correct?

    He is of course not responsible for the atrocities that mankind inflicts upon himself, as he will be the one to judge us in the after life. Okay, so why does man do evil?

    Free will, is the most common answer. Well why do we have free will? The most popular answer I find is, "God does not want us to be robots\puppets. That we should strive to be as good as "God".

    But what bothers me is, if "God" is inherently good and thus can not do evil, for he is the embodiment of good, how could he give us something of which he lacks?
    If "God is good, and can only do good, we have more power than good, because we can do evil.

    Better yet, why did "God create a world in which there is evil? The most popular answer is, it's mankind that does evil for exercising his "God" given right of free will.

    But Free will is just the ability to do choice, why couldn't "God" create a world in which the only choices were good. If i'm hungry and I wanted something to eat, I can choose a burger or pizza... both are good choices. That is a better world then having to choose burger or a 45 revolver... that to me doesn't make sense.

    Just my 2 cents, maybe not worth your time, but it is what I got

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

      Good and evil are man made words for light and less light. The human soul was given the faculties of body and mind to see this show of life.The uncontrolled mind is a world of darkness. This is a world of action and reaction and the soul bears the consequence for forgetting where it came from and allowing the faculties of the mind to take control. Our experience with other human souls is a consequence of many life times of interaction – good and bad. Our ancestors figured this out many thousands of years ago and it is only the present organized religions that keep it secret. Modern scientists are now finding that this world is just an illusion. There would be no purpose to seperate from the creator if everything were good. The challenge is to remember where we came from and purify the mind and soul and go back to the source in spiritual love. Union – Soul and Creator of the soul.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  17. cab

    It is givien man once to die then the judgment, we all must die some how, but to die without a relationship with the lord is the worst desth of all.

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

      "to die without a relationship with the lord is the worst desth of all."

      Says the guy who was indoctrinated to believe this very thing.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  18. QS

    Completely off-topic, but is it generally a religious thing to constantly mix up "choose" and "chose"? I just wonder since the topic is about free will and the ability to CHOOSE, yet the comments from believers can never seem to get it right.

    I actually saw one that said "man had choosen"!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • fred

      Well as a Christian I will admit that I mix those up all the time and it has nothing do with free choose.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  19. cinghoa

    I think it is absolutely ridiculous that we have to hear that 'god works in mysterious ways' an unpleasant event occurs, or 'it was just god's will for him to go' when a person dies, or my personal favorite 'god has a plan for us all". So my question is-After having to hear each of these statements- How do you justify saying that this wasn't 'god acting in his mysterious ways' and how do you know this wasn't in 'his plans'? Wasn't his play written out 6000 years ago? Did he forget to include this event and the many, many more like it in his final draft? If your phrases about his plan are correct, there is no such thing as 'free will'. He has dictated every move every person has made since 'creation' in order to make his play follow his script.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Tasso

      well said. makes me laugh how it's his plan all along but he gave us free will. This is the biggest CONTRADICTION ever yet it is used by religious people everyday when trying to explain events like these. In fact down deep inside they can't even explain it to themselves.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  20. Tasso

    god has nothing to do with this because he does not exist. Period. Humanity will be better served when we accept the fact that there is no heaven or hell and that what we make of our time is precious. This was an act of a deranged individual. I my opinion guns and especially ammunitions are too easily accessible and in fact are the cause of such horific violence. Instead of praying to an invisible man, let's get together and fix the issue instead of giving in to the gun lobbyist who by the way praise the lord. WAKE UP PEOPLE -- My heart goes out to the families of the ones that were killed. They have suffured an unfair loss...

    July 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • QS

      Well said, and agreed.

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

      So if there is no God, what do we have to look forward to, in this life? Birth, School, Work, Death? Sounds pretty bland if you ask me. If there is no God and no heaven, what do you live for and what do you have to look forward to?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:50 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.