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. Jordan

    Ok, so after reading a few comment I thought I would share my opinion. God is real. But when it comes to the shooting, how many people who where shot at prayed for a safe time at the movies? Or was it and everyday thing that we just go on about our day without giving one thought to God? The media never brings God up for when something good happens but always when something bad happens. I hate it, yes hate, i hate it when i look on the news and see God getting blamed for all the bad stuff in this world but yet when something good happens let's give all the credit to anything else but him. We are constantly turning our backs on god in everything that the media does. Honestly, I don't blame God for letting it happen (the shooting). People don't want to give him a chance anymore because they believe that he is a myth. Like a video i once saw for a church invite, A guy was at the dentists and said "thank god". So the dentist gets into a debate saying how he isn't real. The patient then says i don't believe in dentists. Why would so many people have problems with their teeth if dentists were real? Well because people don't listen to the dentists and do what they want. That is the same with God. He wont turn his back on you, but he wont grant you saftey or blessings if you turn your back on him and live the worlds way.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • RW

      I see. So these people got shot because they didn't ask God that they not get shot before they went into the movies. More nonsense.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  2. ObamaJoe

    God is wise.
    (Proverbs 3:19; Romans 16:26-27; 1 Timothy 1:17)

    July 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Craboo

      You do know that man wrote that, even the church admits it was written by man. So why is it more believable then Lord of the Rings?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  3. Samkon Gado

    Christians believe that Jesus, the completely innocent Son of God, willingly took the evil of mankind on Himself so that man would not have to face the punishment of their evil. I argue that there is no greater evil than a truly innocent suffering the punishment of truly evil. If God can bring the good of redemption from that evil, He surely can bring good from this.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  4. Gohek

    If you all don't believe in the bible, let me give you a little science then. The dead sea scrolls, founded by, obviously, the dead sea, contained a prophecy regarding roman times. This dead sea scroll was part of the bible. No you may think its fairy tales, but when you look to carbon dating, you see that that scroll was written at least 400 years before the event it described. Now you tell me if thats fairy tales, considering the one's who carbon dated it were atheists, intent on proving it false, which i was all ears for

    July 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • fintastic

      When you make vauge predictions, (lets call them guesses) there's always a chance they may come true. The more vauge they are, the greater the chance they will come true. For example, If I predicted that in the future, there would be a war, a flood, tsunami, earthquake, etc, that's a pretty safe bet that one of these will happen. Has absolutely nothing to do with "god"

      There is not one shred of evidence of the exsistance of god..... including the dead sea scrolls.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  5. Rebecca

    Everyone always asks 'Where was God' after tragedies like this. Nobody wants anything to do with Him until something bad happens. You can't just push him away and keep him in the corner, and pull him out just when you need or want his help. Of course he doesn't want to see people killed- look at Syria, Afghanistan, all the children dying from starvation-, but people are causing these problems. Not God.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • RW

      Nice try Rebecca but that's an argument that will never win non-believers like me over to your side. If God is all powerful then he should act like it. I don't accept this "free will" or whatever other nonsense you can come up with.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  6. ObamaJoe

    God is triune or trinity.
    (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14)

    July 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  7. Woody

    Christians love to tell everyone how great heaven is but very few if any that I know of would be willing to take a chance on heaven actually being there today ! If people really believe in a heaven than why are they so scared of dying ? Why do people cry when someone dies rather then celebrating where they might be going ? That shows me people really arent sure if their is a god or heaven !God and religion is all talk to hide who you really are ! Ministers and priest get paid for what they do in man made money . No god feeds or houses religious people and no god made your furnace ,car or A.C.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  8. ObamaJoe

    God is omnipresent (present everywhere).
    (Psalm 139:7-12)

    July 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • patrick harris

      I saw God, Jeses and mary and joseph at Denny's in Dallas having a grand slam breakfest... so there is no way they could have been anywhere near Colorado that night... just sayin

      July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  9. chris f

    What happened in Aurora is the fault of a Godless socirty. We have removed religion from all walk of society and replaced it with violent movis and video games. With no disipline at home or in schools what do you expext: Misbehaving children turn into misbehaving adults. Some kids today have no morality.

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

      If God is that vengeful and full of hate why would I want to believe in him.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  10. ObamaJoe

    God is unchanging or immutable.
    (Psalm 102:25-27; Hebrews 1:10-12; 13:8)

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

      It's talking, Merry. The tree is talking.
      (Pippen: Loard of the Rings)

      July 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • fintastic

      "Luke, I am your father"

      July 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  11. Andre

    God is Imaginary.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  12. halfbakedlunatic

    'god' is an idiotic idea promoted by immoral people to control and pacify the weak minded. If you're concerned about the shooting, you might as well ask where was Ronald McDonald – the answer will probably be more relavant than asking about some 'god'.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I think you are fully baked now

      July 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • fintastic

      Where is Waldo?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  13. JW

    Accutaly the Bible gives a completely statisfing explination of God’s permission of evil. It shows that in the Garden of Eden Satan challenged God’s rulership over humans claiming they would be better off without having to obey God. When the first human coulpe Adam and Eve willing choose to disobey God they put themselves and all their desendents under Satan’s rule. God has allowed this for a time to demonstrate that humans can not succesuly rule themselves without him. And that has been proved true no one can claim human rulership has been a sucsess. But the Bible also shows that soon God will step into mans affairs to correct the situation. You should talk to Jehovah’s Witnesses if you would like to learn more.

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

      Well, you might find it satisfying, but in reality those are the writings of men. So, nothing is really truly satisfied, they've just given their opinions and you agree.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  14. ObamaJoe

    God is infinite.
    (1 Kings 8:22-27; Jeremiah 23:24; Psalm 102:25-27; Revelation 22:13)

    July 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  15. ObamaJoe

    God is eternal.
    (Deuteronomy 33:27; Jeremiah 10:10; Psalm 90:2)

    July 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  16. Greaser

    Why is everyone so monotheistic? Maybe there are 2.6 million gods. No one knows.

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

      More likely there are none, zip, nada, zero.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  17. MrHanson

    First of all the true history of death is rooted in human rebellion, as explained by the Bible.
    Second, atheists need to STFU. Your words provide no comfort whatsoever. In fact the only comfort you provide (to yourselves) is ridicule. It provides to you a sense of empowerment and the false sense of superiority. The more you try and convince the world that mankind is a meaningless accident and there is no such thing as accountability and judgment, don't be surprised when things like this happen. What you believe is the same thing that Jeffery Dahmer, Eric Harris, and Dylan Klebold believe. Survival of the fittest.
    Third, don't try and bring up the "religion has killed more" argument. Christianity was never about killing to spread religion like (conservative) Islam is.

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

      You should STFU. Why do religious people always hijack everything? Mind your own business, delusional sheep.

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

      as explained by the Bible.
      The bible doesn't really "explain" anything. It offers the beliefs, convictions, and opinions of the individuals who wrote the words included in it. It's not a work of factual history, it's a work of literature.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Ryan

      Seriously – you need to read a non-religious book, because whether it was the crusades or missionaries, plenty of Christians have killed to spread Christianity, from King David-pre Christ to crusaders, inquisition, and conquistadors, Christianity has shed plenty of blood.

      As for no comfort being provided, if the entire idea of religion is to provide comfort, then the point is missed. I would find comfort in not worrying about eternal damnation but rather going back to what and where my consciousness was before I was born – what will be the difference for me from 1884 to 2084?

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

      It is not a history book but it contains a great deal of factual history that can be traced.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • matt in nw

      Translation: I find Atheists make me think, and that thinking is made me realize something i dont want to face....this has made me very very angry... i could stop...take a minute and walk around the room and get a cup of coffee...or i could type out a rage post.... rage post it is...:))

      July 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  18. .

    33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, Chapter 26)

    July 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  19. Onslow

    There is no god, so 'he' isn't anywhere! I for one don't need an invisible deity to know that this killer was a crazy d-bag.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  20. Greaser

    Which god? Thousands have "existed" throughout the history of civilization.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Onslow

      Great point!!

      July 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      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.just pay attention.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • just sayin

      Mohammad A Dar shouldnt you be in flight class right now?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:48 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.