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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:

Lenny
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.

Kyle
"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:

Harleyxx
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. ObamaJoe

    have fun,,,,silly boys and girls,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    July 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  2. Karl F

    Weapons are here because we need them. Some people like to protect their kin and their opponents do the same. During the Cold War there was no doubt in a citizen of Eastern Europe that Americans liked to eat fresh flesh from killed babies. It was only natural that they began stockpiling defensive weapons ranging from rocks to nuclear warheads. Everybody in the USA, by the way, knew that Russians enjoyed babies' bowels for breakfast and thus it was also natural that in order to save our lives, we stockpiled everything from rocks to nuclear warheads.

    When you lack guns, you kill your opponents with clubs and knives, same as in the good old days of the Medieval Age. That is reality. When you lack knives you might strangle your enemy and choke him to death. You might break his skull with a heavy rock or you might poison him or lead him into a deep trap where he will die from hunger and thirst. In summary, you kill because you feel you need to. If your intention is to kill a fellow human being to defend yourself or out of hatred, it is blatantly obvious that you do not need guns to do so.

    Removing legal guns from rightful owners will not serve the purpose of granting peace in the streets. Did you know that gangs do not buy their guns at authorized dealers or register their weapons? They buy their weaponry in a black market from people who could not care the least whether they are selling assault rifles or self-propelled rocketry to the bad guys. How do gun-haters plan to control that market?

    Regarding sports in the USA, yes, it is becoming a horrible reality that more people, fueled by news media eager to sell their stories, massacre others. Football and Baseball could some day become relegated by mass-murdering. In group sports, it is the team that receives the honors; in individual mass-killing, it is the numb nuts who receives all credit and hatred, but also admiration and lots of attention. Mr. Holmes, as an example, has become a celebrity and has stayed his ground for many days. He has been prized with far more than 5 minutes of fame and glory. In a country with 300 million people in which a sensible part of that population feel relegated from happiness and fortune, 'gaining' glory like this is a way of leaving a mark, even when that mark is a stain.

    Like it or not, this whole topic goes far beyond the use of guns. We have gained immense sensibility over tough matters, yet we have failed to address them properly. We have allowed our spoiled kids to believe they have a certain right to misbehave as they see fit and if someone calls their attention we run to face those yelling about (misunderstood) human rights and the like. This has become a hippie world of confused social rights. What did you expect?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  3. augustghost

    THERE IS NO GOD......WHEN WILL YOU LOSERS EVER LEARN...ITS ALL FANTASY

    July 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  4. Kerry

    I think it's important to remember that Jesus never made any promises that life here on Earth would be free from bad things. Look at the original disciples – most died a violent death at the hands of others. Why should we expect our lives to be free from bad things?

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

      Jesus was nailed, but these gun laws are screwing us.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Jim R

      and why should we believe in delusional wish thinking?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  5. ObamaJoe

    Corinthians 4:18

    As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

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

      “Do not pity the dead Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.” – Dumbledore, Harry Potter.... difference?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  6. Salero21

    Where was God in Aurora massacre?

    Well, that's the wrong question to ask! Only fools, simpletons, uninformed and Ig-nora-muses would ask such a thing!

    God is where HE has always been and where HE will always be for all of Eternity, in HEAVEN. Only fools would believe that everyone who dies tragically goes to Heaven. It is NOT SO!

    Almost everyone knows when and where we were born. But NO Man (women included here), knows how, when and where he will die. Life is but a speck compared with Eternity. The final destination of our soul is what makes the DIFFERENCE. NOT how, when and where we were born or die.

    We live in a world that is NOT going to last forever, we see proof of that everyday. Worst of all, we're in the middle of one nation under God's judgment. Not one generation of men have lived in this country, without seen it in one war or another.

    A CULT, Enamoring and Fascination to guns and weapons, drugs Violence and whatever have you, are providing enough FUEL to perpetuate the violence till the end.

    ONE NATION UNDER GOD'S JUDGEMENT.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      How Puritan of you.

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

    Zeus was there, just check the weather reports, the act of fire through combustion, and the sky chart. You all are half way between stupid and drooling. Form two lines. The stupid people can work, and the drooling people can go to happy camp.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Toggi3

      He was out saving the hungry children in afric.. oh wait no he wasnt.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  8. Sly

    My understanding as a Catholic is that God's agreement with Satan allows Satan control over sin and death, although God reserves the right to intervene at his own discretion, presumably for purposes of inspiring people to have faith or worship God.more. So, when tragedy, death, illness, or other negativity impacts someone, it is from the Devil, since the Devil chose to embrace and inspire people to live in a flawed, purely physical finite world and forsake eternity with God. So God does not make bad things happen, but if He does assume the power to stop or fix bad things to suit his own purpose, the natural question that comes next is, why does He ever allow this sort of thing to happen? The answer is the same as why He does anything, to inspire love and worship in people. Hard times often bring people closer to God and bring people together in general, and at the very least, they present people with an opportunity to evaluate and make a conscious choice for or against faith and God. People get upset and think God is super mean for letting them suffer, for letting children suffer, for letting anything go wrong, but they look at it from an unreal context. To God, life on Earth is like the blink of an eye, and just a proving ground for eternity. For us, 80 years is a lifetime, so a life cut short by some years or any period of time suffering is a huge deal, but God know it's nothing and that as bad as it may seem, someday our entire existence on Earth will seem like a short nightmare.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      or, the concepts of god and satan are man made

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

      Where in the world did this idea of God's agreement with Satan come from? Why would a God create such a system anyway, and how in the world would we even know that he created it. Sorry, but that seems like such an obviously made up story to try to explain why there is evil in the world. Look we are the only creatures that are conscious enough to care about these questions. So naturally we look for answers, but isn't it obvious that Man is just making all this stuff up in his mind to try to explain things??

      July 25, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  9. Jim R

    Same place he is in all human tragedy, nowhere. The difference between science and religion is that science doesn’t mandate the universe to be what a person wants it to be – rather it forces our beliefs to conform to the evidence of reality. The core concept of all religions is the human fear of death, our finality and our reality.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  10. ObamaJoe

    Philippians 1:21

    For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • sam stone

      then what is keeping you here?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • ObamaJoe

      Philippians,,,,,dude,,,,not me:)

      July 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  11. kris

    why is this even a question? Why are there wars where people die? Why are there car accidents? Why does anything bad happen? BECAUSE life would be pointless without it! Imagine a life with no problems. What would you do all day? Teach children? Oh, they already know everything, problem solved. Cleanup the highway? Oh, no trash gets thrown on it, no problem there. Be a doctor? Oh, no one gets illnesses because that'd be bad! IF there were no problems in the world, we would not have life. Our "life" would be sitting on the couch eating twinkies, watching crap tv, drunk and bored. What would the purpose of that be? God gives us our own will so we can deal in our own way with challenges in life.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  12. solex

    It seems to me that when something good happens, the religious crow about how god made it happen and when bad things happen, the religious say it was because we go against some dogmatic rule that causes God to turn a blind eye.

    Convenient.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  13. Will

    God is said to be omnipresent, omnipotent, and all-loving. However, if He is everywhere at once and sees all then He was in the movie theater in Colorado and saw what was happening. That means He allowed the shootings to happen which would definitely not make Him all-loving.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:53 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 5:00 pm |
    • tj

      hard to say that HE is not "all-loving" when He allowed His only son Jesus Christ to be murdered by the very people He created to live on earth. Wonder why he did not step in with that? He gave us an answer: He loved the world so much that He gave his only son as a sacrifice to rectify a mistake made by a previous creation, Adam ... but if you don't believe there is a God, Jehovah (is his name) although His invisible qualities (earth/space) are visible all around us, then these words are as empty as the oxygen you breathe, but benefit from greatly, but do not see.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  14. Janet

    We were sent here to earth to gain a body and be tested. We were sent here with free agency. Men have free agency. Some use it better than others. A man used his agency to take the lives of others. God knows each of us and loves us.Those who mourn have the opportunity to come to know the Plan of Salvation and about the life hereafter, if they so choose. The test now is to those famlies and friends of those that died. Will they turn to God for comfort or take the course of bitterness. Free agency again. God is our loving Father in Heaven. May we all come to know this and comfort will be there for all.

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

      Ahh, 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 4:54 pm |
  15. jjz

    God is watching and he is grieving...Grieving for the innocent lives lost, for a generation growing into totally self-centered, with absolutely no real sense of right and wrong and no fear of authorities...Have we as a society not attributed to the growing of such generation?!

    July 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  16. ObamaJoe

    Genesis 6:3

    Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

    July 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Bernie

    What we can say for certain, when horrible like this happens, is that something is wrong. Something is broken and isn't right. That feeling that something is not right with the world indicates to me that there must be something else that is right, not wrong, not broken. What is that something? Where is ant any given time?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  18. edmundburkeson

    A more fitting question is: Where were you when God was tweaking at your conscience? Did you ignore? rationalize? and then before long, almost without notice God goes away and takes some of his goodness with him. A little of God's goodness equals a huge opportunity for evil and for people to declare independence from God and his goodness. And then suddenly it happens. Disaster! Where were you when God was available to you? Tweaking your conscience? And before you know it ... you too are having difficulty telling the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. Once you ignore, reason away, seering your conscience with a hot iron, imagining yourself to be a bilogical organism arising from chance. You imagine that your conscience is merely your inhibitions and fear bubling to the suface. Your thoughts? Just biological markers in a network of neural transmitters. The question is not: where is God? But: where are humans?

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

      Why do all these comments imply that God is only present if we believe in it and allow it into our lives?
      Isn't god omnipotent, existing regardless of whether we want it there or not?
      Why can't god be indifferent? An earthquake, tsunami, or other natural disaster does more damage, yet who is responsible?
      Hubris makes us think we're so special that God needs something from us, but we're not even on a measureable scale compared to the universe that god controls

      July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  19. Joe

    Why do the innocent suffer? We don't know. To say God did not will it, is to put their suffering beyond God's reach, to risk saying it's meaningless. To say God willed it, is too hard to bear and still believe in a loving God. What a Christian knows – by faith – and nothing more – is that God in the person of Jesus submitted himself to the very worst in the human capacity to i inflict pain and suffering on others.. Why? We do not know; witnesses, theologians, etc. have theories – but they do not know. Evil is, by definition, that which ought not be, which is utterly absurd. Jesus prayed spare us from the test, deliver us from evil. Frightening things. But he was not spared. Again, in faith, an innocent, presumably the most loving and perfect human being ever to live, was crucified, among the most grotesque forms of human torture and killing ever conceived. No answer, just a terrifying paradox. If God does not spare himself – we are left to wonder and hope that our suffering too will be redeemed. No one gets out alive, no one. It's just a matter of when and how we meet our end. As Christians we have hope. There are other faiths that also offer hope, but for me the mystery of Jesus brings this question into focus like no other.

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

      Hmm So a guy named jesus was crucified on a cross to rid us of our sins...uh, it didn't work....why not open up a history book and tally up the millions of innocent people who have died in the name of christianity. And you worship this self proclaimed "carpenter" as a god? I feel sorry for you and those like you

      July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  20. dastreagus

    Atheism is the only religion we should allow. Enough enough is enough already already.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Atheism, self center ism is the way of hindu's, ignorant s, like animals, human have nothing to do with it.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • just sayin

      Mohammad A Dar how are those flight lessons going?

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

      I wish there was the option to report domestic abuse, mohammed.

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

      Atheism is not a religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Good.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • matt in nw

      This guy and Hindus.... humorous what he comes up with... severe trauma involving Hindus perhaps?

      July 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Christians are weak and cry over every death. They are weak ignorant animals. Praise Allah

      July 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      A Hindu once insulted his "manhood."

      July 25, 2012 at 5:01 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 5:02 pm |
    • Baa Weet

      If God is real then what did these people do to deserve to die this way? The invisible deity that lives in the sky would have stopped this if it existed.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:09 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.