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. JMRJ

    An average of 93 people die every day in auto accidents in the US. Where is God then?

    Think about the question. What is God supposed to do? Suspend the laws of physics or gravity every time that might foil an evil result? Then there would be no laws of physics or gravity. For the believer, God will make it all right in the end. In the meantime, we are subject to the hazards the world presents, unless there is some miracle. God leaves volcanoes free to erupt just as men are free to destroy and do evil, because that is the way the world is. Even an omnipotent God cannot square a circle.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Kenneth Paul

      And who's to say it wasn't time? Funny how people who don't believe in God ..wanna know
      where he was during this? Maybe he made the killers semi auto jam, sparing the lives of even more?
      Maybe some people where called to heaven, and the others were just not cuttin it in Gods plan and
      were recycled.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  2. Umfoofoo

    He was watching TED because it's awesome

    July 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  3. ObamaJoe

    ========Do you not know that you are the Temple of God, and that The Spirit of God dwells within you?=======

    July 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  4. BaJEzuS

    All the suffering, all the killers, rapists, molesters walking the planet unheeded.... A six year old takes a bullet at a theatre – if there is a god, he's an a***ole.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Yurmam_Zachont

      The short answer is: there isn't a god.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  5. Stephen

    Job was one of the good people in the Bible who had a lot of bad things happen to him. In Job’s story, Satan told God that humans only worshiped Him when it was easy. God disagreed and told Satan to test Job, allowing him to take from Job everything he owned and everyone he loved. But Job was not to be told that he was being tested. Throughout his trial, Job asked the same question to his friends that we are asking now, he wanted to know why God had allowed such horrible things to happen to him, a good and faithful man who loved God. His friends said he must have done something to deserve it. Job not only disagreed, but he demanded that God explain why He allowed these things to happen to him. Despite his suffering, Job managed to keep his faith and refused to curse God.

    In the end, God won the bet and returned to Job double everything that had been taken from him, but God never told Job why He had allowed him to suffer. God then went on to rebuke Job’s friends, telling them that everything Job had said about Him was true, and everything they had said, that God punishes bad people, was wrong. As for Satan, God had demonstrated to him that despite his power over man, goodness can prevail over evil. Only in our darkest hours can the true nature of humanity be revealed and the purpose of our existence explained.

    “And the light shines in darkness, and the darkness could not overcome it.” John 1:5

    July 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • elopez

      It sounds like you're really touched by the Job story, which is fine, because it does has a lesson in it. But I hope it isn't the only text you get wisdom out of, since good fiction is aplenty.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • yeahalright

      It's amazing to me that anyone can see the story of Job in a positive light.
      It just shows what a petty, vain and plain old needy guy your god is.
      Love me love me me mememememememememe tell me how much you love memememememe

      He's like a creepy clingy girlfriend.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  6. James D.

    read ecclesiastes Chapter 3 in the Bible.. to find an answer... I am not a bible thumper in fact just started reading the bible recently and today opened the book to that page and i was like wow..... I feel for the victims ( actual and their families, friends and the town of Aurora), Ther is no way to justify this, but if you believe in GOD why would you ask such a question and if you dont why would you even think of him at this sad and chaotic time..... Just Look to LOVE and good thoughts to all those who suffered, are suffering and will suffer... I love you all and Wish you well.....

    July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • 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 6:03 pm |
  7. geenabeana

    Whatever happened to the Greek Gods and Goddesses? Aren't they considered to be mythological now?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  8. Peter Pearson

    Really? Where was God? Where were we when we allowed people to own assault weapons? Where were we when this man was sinking into his dark illness and psychosis? Where were we when adults would stand up and take responsibility? Why do we always want God to clean up after the messes we create? What a stupid and irresponsible question.

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

    Same place God has always been....no where.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  10. Jerry

    Where was God? He was crying over His creation's evil choices.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Peter Pearson

      Quite right Jerry.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Dabney

      Amen to that Jerry

      July 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • James

      "His creation's evil choices."

      So the people who chose to go to the movies were evil and deserve to die. What an idiot.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • someone

      God gave us free will. If He didn't then He would dictate our every move. Free will means that everyone has the freedom to choose their own actions but they also must be held accountable for those actions whether good or bad. Satan rules this world which is why it's so messed up. God created Satan but Satan is a fallen angel no longer worthy of God.

      And for those that don't believe in God where does your spirit that makes your body alive come from?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  11. Jon

    the idea of god is merely a reflection of human qualities. god is us. It is not external. Only organized religion teaches us that god is separate from ourselves. It speaks to our desire not to be alone. Organized religion sets themselves up as the gatekeeper for accessing god. God was there in Aurora as horrible as it was. God was there in all the human traits shown. From the worst to the best.

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

      And humans are intelligence in action. Sarcasm intended.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  12. ObamaJoe

    But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • sam stone

      Free people do not need to be saved

      July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  13. Dabney

    Where was God in this situation??? God is everywhere and knows of everything. God gave man love and free will and Adam and Eve betrayed Him. When man disobeyed Him, He let them aquire all the knowledge that they want even sin. God didnt cause this humans' flesh did this. God has had mercy and grace on us since even in the midst of all of our sin now, He could be giving us all the punishment that we deserve but He loves us still. Stuff happens everyone dies, but this is indeed a terrible situation.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  14. Stephen

    God was there when those selfless heroes shielded their friends and loved ones bodies from the bullets. God was there when dozens of first responders rushed to the scene to do anything they could to help. God was there when a nation wept and prayed for all those hurt by this evil.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Adam

      soooooooooo God gets credit for anything noble that happened in that theatre and afterwards yet escapes blame for the death and destruction. pretty good racket he's got. no wonder some of you worship his ass.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • just sayin

      Did you see him there? Do you hear his voice?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Yurmam_Zachont

      Wow. The sheep find it so easily comforting to mold answers that fit their belief system. People do bad things because they are bad people. People do good things because they are good people. An imaginary deity (God, Allah, Zeus, Thor, Vishnu) has nothing to do with it.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  15. Stephen


    July 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • ObamaJoe

      God is everywhere,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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

      Thor is everywhere....

      July 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • ObamaJoe

      Thenwhat 🙂

      July 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  16. dastreagus

    You must mean the laws of physics or the aliens. Well the Aliens don't mind violence unless it hurts their extraction of oil and coal from the earth, and the laws of physics were right there popping people. Ban guns.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  17. Bob

    I think God was in Washington protecting the rights of the weapons manufacturers and dealers to peddle their wares without government interference.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  18. John G.

    Anyone who believes in God must either believe that God could have intervened and chose to allow the massacre instead, that God was powerless to save the people in that theater, or that God wasn't paying attention at the time due to being distracted, indifferent, or nonexistent.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Yurmam_Zachont

      I choose non-existent.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  19. Maria

    Everytime I hear someone say "where was God when this or that hapenned?" people forget that humanity is not under God's will... humans have free will and most of what they choose to do has nothing to do with God. Evil is easier than good.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • just sayin

      God created evil, therefore evil is of God.

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

      Again with the free will...

      Let's assume there is a God and he does have a will. If man has free will he can do whatever he wants without intervention from God, right? What if man's will conflicts with Gods? 1) Does God step aside and change his will depending on what man does? 2) Or does God overpower man's will? If the answer is 1 than God is not in control – man is. If the answer is 2 than man does not have free will.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  20. The Hand and the AXE

    Nothing, and I mean nothing goes by YHWH's eyes without HIS approval first. Just as the AXE cannot splice the wood without the hand, he is in this. Now, His reasoning is His own, After this trajedy, millions of people will reprioritize their lives. Churches will have the opportunity to pray, to witness and to comfort many in need. God has a way of taking a trajedy and turning it into something good! He sees the Big Picture, while we focus on the smaller picture. Trust! He knows what He's doing and He's still on the Throne! I'm a witness to what He's done in my Life, I survived death!!! Yeshua Ha'Mashiach

    July 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      Good for you, now why don't you tell all those families in Colorado how special you are.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Are you one of those Jews for Jesus people? If so, what is self-loathing like?

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

      Our Priorities are not right! YHWH (God) is trying to tell YOU something! It was God that causes that magazine to jam! This is a wake up call, get it?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:45 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.