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. thetruth

    Stupid question. Even more stupid than that; those who tried to answer it with no clue of what it means to read scripture and not add to it, or take away from it. A lot of people call themselves ministers, preachers, and evangelist, and don't know, or do anything the word says. Where was God, He was where He was when everything else happened. Yet the power of darkness wants you to question and blame God for this tragedy. Was the shooter a believer, did the shooter know God, did the shooter believe in God. God is in the HOLY BIBLE, that is where he is!! If you really want to know where He was pick up a bible and read it. If a man thinks himself to be something when he is nothing , that man deceives himself . the apostle paul wrote that and many more. So study to show yourself approved!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    People are afraid of death because the original purpose of mankind was to live forever. Its shown by your genetic makeup, the way in which your body, theoretically could continously work forever, but for some reason breaks down. Not everyone is going to heaven, thats a false teaching, only 144,000 are, as shown if people read the bible.

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

      Ooh hadn't heard that one. So like .0000000000000001% of the people he created get to go to heaven?

      And the rest get to burn for eternity? Jeez (no pun intended). Lemme guess, you're one of the lucky lotto winners?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Are you God?

      AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAH!!!! I'm sorry, but my first reaction to your statement is extreme laughter. You're joking right? You can't possibly be serious? Are you typing this from a computer lab at an insane asylum? My favorite part was your exact number of 144,000. That's some of the greatest comedic material I've ever seen. I suppose you know the exact date of the apocolypse? Where have you been all my life? You know everything! This is great news! We should spread the word! This guy...wait, let me guess. You're God's new right hand man huh? You should look into working in late night or stand up. Really good stuff you got going...

      July 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Mr. Science Guy

      Okay, Mr. Science Guy. "for some reason it breaks down." Ever heard of friction? I'm assuming you're referring to Adam and Eve, at which point I suppose God invented friction and heretofore everything just clung and moved around without it? I gotta ask man, are you high?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  3. USMC Captain

    :Why does God allow suffering or evil? Simple...because as men and women we have free will to do what we please. Suffering and evil are a result of turning our backs on God. God does not create suffering...or evil...we do. We create it in our everyday reactions and interactions with one another. If we followed more closely to the tennets of Christ the would be SIGNIFICANTLY less suffering and evil in the world....you don't have to be a Christian to follow Christ's example. Just someone willing to put another's well being in front of your own...

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

      god doesn't exist, moron. You must be in charge of firing the moron machine.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  4. Yurmam_Zachont

    God wasn't in Aurora, because god doesn't exist.

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

      Where is he? Same place he was when his son was crucified–loving us beyond comprehension.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  5. Amazing Grace

    HE reins. Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

    We credit good things to HIM, but when bad things happen, we cry out: where was God?

    Ask yourself: are you sinful? Do you deserve the blessings you asked for? That is my answer to the stupid question from the liberal CNN.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3


      July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • thetruth

      very stupid from whom ever ask it!!!!!!!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  6. brucespencer

    Take a clue from the Amish in Nickel Mines, Pa. If you consider yourself a Christian, you have to forgive him – as difficult as that is. That's where God is.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  7. robinhood

    Bumped..."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 4:47 pm |
    • Jack Shown

      This quote by Epicurus makes the concept of god an impossibility but religious people refuse to accept it simply because their god is a necessity borne out of desperation. We are all desperate when we don't have control over a situation. When something serious happens to a loved one, what can we do except turn to a god who we hope and pray can do something to bring control back into our lives.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  8. Bill Deacon

    Brothers and sisters:
    We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
    that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
    We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
    perplexed, but not driven to despair;
    persecuted, but not abandoned;
    struck down, but not destroyed;
    always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
    so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
    For we who live are constantly being given up to death
    for the sake of Jesus,
    so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh

    July 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Amazing Grace

      Amen! Praise the Lord. People face the consequence of their choices.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • sam stone

      AmazingGrace: Why do you believe so?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  9. Kizidek

    To dis God because some cretin goes insane in an insane country on an insane planet (infected with mankind) is like shining a flashlight at the Sun and begging it not to go Super Nova in a few billion years...makes no sense. All those people are still alive in another plane (check the Physics of Time and the multiple Nows).

    July 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Jack Shown

      The sun won't ever go supernova. Stars that go supernova are 9-29 times the mass of the sun.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  10. dastreagus

    Sorry, buttheads, but god doesn't exist.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • ernieb28

      @ dastreagus I'm sorry for you!!!!!! Because until you sit aside your own arrogance and acknowledge Him, this nation(US) and every nation around the world that doesn't reverence Him, will see far worst than this!

      July 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  11. ernieb28

    As I write this comment, it angers me to even respond to the question: 'Where was God in Aurora massacre?" Here's a better question; Where did he say he would be? with a follow up question; What did he say was going to happen to the modern world ? According to the Bible, Psalm 9:17 "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." This country's political policies and newly adopted state laws ignores God's laws while creating it's own in which, are completely contrary to his will and yet you have the nerve to ask, where was God during this evil act. Is amazing to me how we can send a telescope trillions of miles away in space to take "pretty little pictures while we search for little green men in far away places" but we cannot believe in Almighty God that created the universe by specking it into existence, and the One that is himself, greater than man! People spend so much time denying God and his sovereignty and move too quick to blame him for the wrong in the world, as if he's sleep on the job! It is not God who is asleep...... it is those that have determined they are better off with-out him!

    July 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  12. Where was Zeus on 9/11

    I can't believe I'm reading this tripe from a CNN blog. They're really milking this event for all it's worth. Some people wonder why a lot of Americans prefer international media for news and opinion; it's postings like this that show why. If you're going to operate a religious blog, I think that's great, but give us something original. Give us something interesting. "Where was God in Aurora" followed by a bunch of Twitter postings from people ranting about liberals, Jesus, and *gasp* "Satan"? Give me a break. This is not productive or informative in ANY way.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • ObamaJoe

      “I said to you that you shall die in your sins, for unless you shall believe that I AM THE LIVING GOD, you shall die in your sins.”

      July 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Jack Shown

      "You shall die in your sins." ??? Since everybody dies and the time of the event is unpredictable to most, what sense can be made of this other than being a foolish threat?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  13. we humans are god

    its was those people time and im sorry for yall lost but ther will be more terror,pain suffering we have to come together this is not what i put man and woman here for. because of science people were able to get smarter but dumber lazy look what we do to are own people our own planet there is no way people should be starving in 2012. come together and watch all will unfold about our home called earth thats all for now rest in peace.

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

    God is light.
    (James 1:17; 1 John 1:5)

    July 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • fintastic

      2+2 = chicken, makes as much sense.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  15. Jesus

    To all you atheists...I love you anyway.

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

      Thank you,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, bro,,,,,,,,,,,

      July 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • just sayin

      To Jesus, please take your meds.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  16. Russ

    Nobody has ever seen a God but some religions claim that their holy men have heard a God's voice.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  17. ArthurP

    He was there alright. He was standing in judgment of the people of the United States giving them a sign that the ownership of firearms is a sin that will only result in the deaths of the innocent.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  18. Liz

    Where was God? Where was this man's conscience and heart? I will for my child to be good and kind and loving. That doesn't necessarily make him that way. He is free to become whatever he chooses for himself, just like this shooter chose to be evil. I don't see how God could get through to anyone in the last decade with so much freedom of will to say and sing and write and dress and behave in ways that are so low-life it's embarrassing for humans, supposedly the highest form of life on the Earth. We've given ourselves the right to buy drugs and ammunition, have countless children and ask taxpayers to pay for and raise them, the irresponsible allow boyfriends to abuse and kill their own children, we make war on others and kill our own species in the name of whatever we decide seems valid at the time. And you ask where is God? We humans made all these decisions when we could have easily chosen Good will, and love and tolerance and responsibility. We could choose to live by the Golden Rule. You don't need to worship a God to know the difference between what's right and wrong. Our country"s morals and "civilized" society is circling the drain and we have done it all ourselves. We Humans. Please let's not drag down religion or God into this mess we've made. Of course spoiled brats always do that. Blame everyone else. And that's how this headline sounds. Where was God? Oh please, what a whiney phrase. Where was personal accountability and respect for others?

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

      Well said Liz.

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

    God is love.
    (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:8)

    July 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Jack Shown

      "Don't wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day."
      (Albert Camus)

      July 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  20. ObamaJoe

    God is merciful.
    (Deuteronomy 4:31; Psalm 103:8-17; Daniel 9:9; Hebrews 2:17)

    July 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • just sayin

      Which God>?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:47 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.