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. codywlliams

    Where is God?

    God is in the rescue. God is in the healing. God is in the comfort. God is in the ourstretched arms. God is in the caring. God is in the will to survive. God is in the forgiveness. God is in the hope. God is in the love. God is in tomorrow. God is in our hearts. God is in the overcoming.

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

      God is in the rescue –– guess he sucked at it since so many were killed and injured. .

      God is in the healing. – –Oops he didn’t heal those that died.

      God is in the comfort. –No it’s not because it allowed so many to be killed, that’s not comfort that’s a monster. Let me allow you to kill yourselves so I can comfort you, that’s pathetic.

      God is in the ourstretched arms. -You’re God has no arms.

      God is in the caring. –If it really were that caring it would have stopped it in the first place and cared about the mental health of the maniac. However, since your God doesn’t exist, there was no caring.

      God is in the will to survive. – Oops again, not everyone survived who had the will too.

      God is in the forgiveness. –No there is no God for that, man can handle that one on their own.

      God is in the hope. –Try telling that to the families of the dead children, dead parents, there is not hope for them.

      God is in the love. – A real loving God wouldn’t have let it happen in the first place and since your God doesn’t exist it explains why so many were killed.

      God is in our hearts. – No it’s not because it doesn’t exist, you’re doing that all on your own, it’s all in your head.

      God is in the overcoming. – No, that has to do with how strong our species is, there is no need for a nonexistent god to do that.

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

      James: your comments are as if you are using arithmetic to solve a problem which requires complex differential equations.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  2. robinhood

    The people who are speaking for God do realize that the medium they are using would have been considered witchcraft by their brethren 200 years ago. Thats right your cellphones, computers, televisions, and the technology that comprise them are forms of sorcery.
    When it comes down to it, religion fosters hopes of an afterlife for people who hope there's more to our existence.

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

      A little bit more to it than the individual hope for an afterlife.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  3. Gary

    God doesnt exist. Religion is a scam. God doesnt give free will since He doesnt exist.

    Prayer is a waste of time because if you dont get what you pray for, religious nutcases say that what you prayed for was your will not God's

    The fact that in 2012 85% of all people in this country believe in a make believe invisible man in the sky is mind boggling to me

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

      I respect that you don't beleive in God. But there are a couple of things I don't have an answer to without God. That would be is that we had this big bang and then there was earth. Now they say this one oraganism started all of life. So how did that one organism become two. Let's put it simply here, what was first the egg or the chicken? I look every night into the heaven and watch the stars. I can't beleive that earth was formed the exact distance from the earth and the moon just by chance. If you were to grill me on God there is a lot I don't know. It is called faiith. If you love someone how do you show love. You can't you need faith. I tell people you don't beleive in God this. If you don't beleive there is a God and there is you will go to hell. If you do beleive in God and there is no God you haven't lost anything. I guess everyone needs to make that choice.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yeah, it must be ALL the rest of us who have it wrong

      July 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • dustin

      what is mind boggeling is that you have allowed yourself to fear answering to a higher power so much, that you cant even consider iany god a possibility.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • fintastic

      If 50 million people believe in something ridiculous, it's still ridiculous

      July 25, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  4. Nate

    God is all powerful, but He has given us freedom of choice. Because we are human, we make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes are as horrific as the ones committed in Aurora. Just look at the mistakes made leading to the death of God's own Son, Jesus Christ. His death was brutal and inhumane yet God used that situation to redeem the entire world. Yes, there is a lot of evil that happened from Aurora, but who knows how God will use this in thousands, even millions, of lives?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  5. just sayin

    Where was God? He was standing next to Holmes enjoying the show.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  6. Tyler

    Where does it say in the Bible that God has to save us from every evil thing that happens? Sure the Bible says that he loves us as a father loves his children but nothing about being the world's superman.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  7. Greaser

    The only rational thing about religion is that it is fake.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  8. bvilleyellowdog


    July 25, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  9. codywlliams

    Where was God?

    God is in the rescue. God is in the comfort. God is in the caring. God is in the outstretched arms. God is in the caring. God is in the love. God is in the healing. God is in the forgiveness. God is in the overcoming. God is in the will to survive. God is in the love. God is in community. God is in our compasion.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      You said "caring" twice.

      Also, giving God all the credit for everything good and absolving Him of all the bad is a pretty heavy deviation from logical thought.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      god was on the phone. God couldn't get a ride. God was in the shower. God was on break. God was answering prayers for someone else. God was busy not existing.

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

      It's a trick question, god doesn't exsist.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  10. Ned

    What is the point of this exercise by CNN? To highlight the great divide in our country between believers and atheists. What good does that achieve? And the idea of posting comments from the Twitter-elite to gauge the thoughts of the nation is equally absurd and is a symptom of modern journalism's laziness epidemic.

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

      thank you. beautiful post

      July 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • matt in nw

      its actually a pressure valve.... many people are angry... as ive said before, everyone is try to make sense of this act. we talk have a discussion.... the one common ground is everyone is in 'what the hell' mode... is reassuring in a way...

      July 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Aubrey

      Yep, pretty much. This is what happens when the mouth-breathing slope-heads in the lame-stream media don't have a clue what to write. They gotta fill up space so they do it by copying and pasting from Twitter and their own website. And then, they do it again when they continue to not have anything to write. It's really quite sad.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  11. billtomlinson

    why do these conversations always end up in name calling? Can't you disagree without the other guy being a jerk?

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

      I completely agree. I've posted on this thread several times today without ever calling names. But because I'm an atheist, every responder seems to think that it's appropriate to finish their post with a personal attack.

      That doesn't make me want to look into Christianity to see if it's for me.

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

      I think that everyone from christians to atheist to agnostics all do name calling, thats what started all of this... we are human beings we are emotional and incredably vulnerable to those emothions christian, atheist and agnostic alike

      July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  12. Um...no

    God stopped listening to all the whining eons ago. Live your life as well as you can and don't count on him still having a room for you among the clouds and you'll be alright.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  13. Michael

    BTW if you really want to go down the rabbit hole.. the guy they showed in the courtroom is NOT the same smiling man they showed a picture of in the beginning. Compare the facial features, completely different man. Weird.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  14. Gohek

    I hate when topics like this come up. On one hand, you have the atheists claiming there's no god and acting like religion is a fairy tale. On the other hand, you have the religious fools claiming there is a god, and acting as if they know it all when they don't even read the bible. Guess what, there's this thing called an opinion, as for atheists, show me where the first atom came from for the big bang. You believe in science hmm? The cause and effect law? As for religious ones, explain where god originated? You believe in the great creator, and everything has an origin, where is his? If neither can answer, atheists can not look down on religious ones and vice versa. (And the only religion I've seen that practices what they preach are those Jehovah Witnesses

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

      Cause and effect applies to things in the universe not to its formation. So there is no reason to assume the universe came from anywhere.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Well, that's pretty convenient there Gohek. You are neither a believer nor a non-believer, so you can look down your nose at everybody. I'm not quite sure how you can not believe, and not not believe, but that's a pretty cool trick.

      July 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  15. Bermille

    I am sure Zimmerman feels this is also part of God's plan.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  16. simple

    You people are nuts.

    Ok It's like this: you have a fish tank, with 3.5 billion fish in it.
    One fish eats a bunch of other fish. The other fish wonder why you didn't stop it.
    Oh and the other fish are somehow convinced that you hear their every thought.

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

      I've been told my whole life that god is all seeing, all knowing and all powerful. So your saying he doesn't notice what's happening? we're no more important to him than a pool of fish? Thought he created us in his image.. He sounds pretty worthless to me

      July 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Oberon Pan

      Heh, I don't know about that, Simple. That sounds kinda fishy to me.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  17. TruthHurts

    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?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  18. Gina

    Why does everything always have to come to God? Why can't we bring God down to Earth by enforcing stricter gun control and teaching our children empathy? Take your kids to a homeless shelter, bring them to an animal rescue to volunteer. You teach your kids to be good BY BEING GOOD NOT BY TELLING THEM FALSE TALES FROM THE BIBLE. I am an atheist an use my spare time to volunteer at a local animal shelter, I am not going to shoot 70 people.

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

      your actions and words suggest that you are the body of Christ

      July 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  19. AndriconBoy

    Why would "God" do anything to save any of us when we do nothing to save ourselves from ourselves?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  20. Lisa B.

    There is no gawd, period.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Wrong, their is gawd, the belly, every hindu ignorant prays to satisfy his hindu soul, filthy desires.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Mohammad seems pretty stuck on Hindus, even though it has nothing to do with the article.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      No hindu's ignorant s have every thing to do with it, Word hindu is driven from Latin word hindered, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Hindi is not a latin-derived language.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:46 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.