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. Scott M

    No one knows the answer to any of this. Just try to do good.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • sam stone

      i agree

      July 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • ml

      Smarter words never spoken..

      July 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • J.W

      I think I agree with this as well. We should all just agree to this.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  2. Lycidas

    Unlike you, I have always openly admit to the different names I have used. Most come from literature I like. Unlike most, I do not hide from the fact that I use different usernames I like.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Oops...forgot to hit the reply button. Oh well.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  3. ZEBA

    Several of the most prosperous countries (Qatar and Saudi Arabia come to mind) are predominantly Muslim. Maybe we are worshipping the wrong God and / or religion? How do we know? Many people are satisfied in the existence of God when they pray and then are able to find their keys... But when something horrific happens, God was not available, and instead we are told it was the devil. Religion has made many mindless drones. When I've needed God the most, he was no where to be found.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • JB

      From my understanding of Islam and Christianity, we pray to the same God. The old estimate is in the Quran. The only difference is the prophets. Even Islam itself has two prophets, which is the reason they have fought each other for hundreds or years (Sunnis and Shiites). I am a history major and in this world, we have fought each other more than not, so the basis of this act being caused by us disobeying is crazy!! Humans have disobeyed God, even before our God. Muslims have fought on the side of Christians on many occasions. People need to pick up a history book sometimes. (Not directed towards you Zeba)

      July 25, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  4. God

    Sorry guys.

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


      July 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • God


      July 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • God


      July 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  5. 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 5:01 pm |
  6. Jason K

    Why do people think that God is some fairy who waives a magic wand and makes all the bad things go away, or that He's some sort of go to guy that you ask for things to get better. I can't think of ANY religion where this is the case. An infinite being either is passive in the affairs of men and doesn't really care about individual incidents like this, or He's completely sovereign and has controlled every minute action, and molecule in history for His end purpose. That or you believe there is no God, but if you're from the first group, stop asking about 'why would God allow such a thing to happen'. Think about this for a minute...maybe God doesn't love you. Just a thought.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • just sayin

      I think God not loving the victims was a given when their chests and heads were exploding.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Will

      I think people may think that because apparently God created the entire universe in 6 days. So if he can do that, I feel like he could stop one guy from pulling a trigger. But maybe he isn't that great with persuasion.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  7. Pearl

    If God is willing to pevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    If he both able and willing? Then why does evil exist?
    Is he neither able, nor willing? Then why call him God?

    July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • ml

      Well put. There are so many ways to shoot holes in all these "God" theories.. its like shooting fish in a barrel.. And again, , I think most who actually think and require some sort of evidence rather than blind belief, have no interest in suggesting they know the real meaning of life, or origin of the universe, etc etc.. We just don;t know.. What the hell is wrong with "We don't know"??? Thats what I've never understood.. why is that so bad????

      July 25, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  8. ted

    if GOD ALMIGHTY does not exist why we have to worry, just live and die like the animals, but i know and i believe that GOD is in control, what HE want to do HE would do it. HE created us and own everything. Whether we believe Him or not He is still God and He is not asking for our approval. READ HIS WORD THE BIBLE SO WE KNOW WHO IS AND WHO WE ARE. THE LORD HAVE MERCY ON ALL OF US

    July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  9. anon

    WHY should God have been in Aurora? Provided that you believe in him, then what does he even owe to us? Gay rights, abortion rights, and various other acts of immorality committed on a regular basis, and the editor or ANYONE has the nerve to claim God was not around to help when he SHOULD HAVE BEEN?!?!?

    July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  10. Craboo

    My problem is the loads of evidence that the theory of science is correct. We know the bible was invented and written by man, the church admits that. We have never had any real evidence that god exists or did exist. Someone here please tell me the hard fast evidence of god?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • ANON

      Hmmm, well, the closest thing I can think of as far as evidence, and this is pretty weak, is the solar eclipse. The way the moon covers the sun is absolutely PERFECT. It does not go one single inch over what is necessary, and does not lack one inch from actually "covering" the sun. A variance of just a few feet or inches would have effected life on this planet in no way shape or form, like other measurements concerning the earth. The odds of such an unnecessary, yet exact thing happening are astronomical, and it's almost as though we were being played with and given only these subtle hints. I believe in God, and why he would do such things is beyond me. Good news is is that someday we will all know for sure the god question, or, then again, maybe we won't.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Craboo

      SEE!!! Anyone can quote a book but their is no evidence.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Craboo

      ANON: Give me a break even religions gave up on god creating an eclipse 300 years ago. They gave up on that theory when we still believed the world was flat.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • just sayin

      Anon, what time do you live in?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • OTOH


      When you stand with the sun behind you, you can see a figure on the ground (or wall, etc.) that looks just like you - you can sometimes even see the unruly hairs on your head in it. Fascinating... but no god necessary.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  11. PrimeNumber

    The people who died in Aurora are not lost to God whether on this side or the other side of the veil.

    A suggestion for the atheists: When you die, will the universe still exist? If you can't prove your case, you're not ready for the "God" question.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • just sayin

      Talk to God much? Doe she "talk" back to you?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Another silly premise. Ask an unprovable question then demand a proof, otherwise you judge them to be unworthy.
      What A maroon.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Joseph

      Yep. Have you even seen a scale of the KNOWN universe when compared to us as an individual? We are but an atom on a piece of sand that is among trillions and trillions of other grains of sand. We are insignificant when compared to the scale of the universe.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Dan

      That's so stupid. When my dad, brother, uncle, etc. died did the universe still exist? Uhmmm, yeah.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  12. Viznix

    If you believe in god, then Free Will is an illusion. If god knows everything that will happen before it happens, then it is not free will, it is his will. If I know my son was going to kill 12 people beforehand, and did absolutely nothing to stop it then I would be held responsible. So why isn't god? Not only did he know the plan, he created the plan. You believe that he created everything with a plan. Meaning, he did this. If you believe in god, then nothing you say or do hasn't already been planned out by your creator. So that makes you a robot, an empty shell of a person just going through the motions. I find that quite sad. God did nothing to stop the shooting because of 2 reasons. 1) He didn't care. 2) He doesn't exist. I choose to say he doesn't exist, therefore he did nothing wrong.

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

      Amen to that ! Oh.. wait. 🙂
      I will choose a path thats clear.
      I will choose freewill

      And honestly, if I croak and there really is some psycho being that decide he/she/it should torture me cause I chose Free Will.. SCREW him.. I'd still choose free will every time and live (or be dead?) under some sadist Freakshow. Makes you "gods" look more like Hitler and Saddam.. Absolute joke really.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • ml

      that is.. I'd still choose free will every time *rather than* live (or be dead) under some sadist freakshow..

      July 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  13. AndriconBoy

    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?

    – Epicurus [341–270 B.C.]

    Replace the word "God" with "Magic Flying Talking Purple Cactus" in any argument in favor of God's existence, and you get the same result. Pray to the same Cactus, and you still get the same results.

    "Let's stop praying for someone to save us and start saving ourselves."

    – Nicole Blackman

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

      Sir, please consult the bible, dead sea scrolls, carbon dating, and prophecy and come back to me claiming Jehovah/god is not real.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • John

      Carbon dating? ..nobody doubts the Bible is old. We doubt the ridiculous claims inside of it

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

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

    July 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  15. Gohek

    Lets put it like this. Being of the true religion is better then not being of any at all. Lets say you die, and there was no god, if you were atheist, you were right, congrats. If you were religious, you were wrong, but you had a happy life serving a nonexistant thing. Now lets say god is real, if you were atheist, you're in trouble. If you were of the true religion, you were right, and get to live in paradise forever. In either option, the true religion has a 100% success rate, while one of false religion, or atheism, has a 50% success rate. Now for all the fellow scientist, you answer which is more viable.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • dastreagus

      I am from someplace better than God. I am from reality. Get the hemlock, because Dastreagus knows the truth. Socrates said it best, "Jesus stole everything I ever did, but lied like an indian"

      July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • AndriconBoy

      Out of the thousands and thousands of religions that do and have existed, and out of the thousands and thousands that have commanded that they are the only one, with the only true God(s), and that all others are false, and that it must be true because someone wrote about it, please do tell us which one is the one true religion.

      Once you have been able to convey that, please exlpain to us how you can take thousands of equal claims and demonstrate how the others are false.

      Or maybe you can grow up a bit and start using that lump 3 feet above your rear end.

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

      Why am I in trouble I live a more honest, ethical, caring and fair life then any religious person I know. Would god not forget my misstep and honor that I made the world a better place?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • LinCA


      Pascal's Wager fail.

      Pascal's Wager:
      In effect, Pascal's wager states that while we can't know with absolute certainty whether the christian god exists, a rational evaluation should lead to a belief. If having to choose between believing (in the christian god), or not believing, the reward for being correct, and the price for being wrong, tips the balance in favor of believing.

      It says, if you believe and are correct, you will gain heaven, while the price for being wrong is nothing. On the other hand, if you don't believe, it says you will gain nothing for being right, yet lose everything if you are wrong. So, belief results in a win/neutral, and non-belief in a neutral/lose position, tipping the balance clearly in favor of the "belief" position.

      Why Pascal's Wager is a fallacy:
      a) Pascal's Wager assumes that there are only two options.
      b) Pascal's Wager assumes the christian god doesn't care whether someone actually believes, or simply goes through the motions.
      c) Pascal's Wager discounts the price paid for belief before death.
      d) Pascal's Wager vastly overestimates the odds for the reward and the risk of punishment.

      Positing only two options is ridiculous. There are, of course, thousands of possibilities when it comes to gods. Based on the evidence available for these gods, it is not reasonable to assume one is more likely than any of the others. To increase the odds of a positive outcome of this wager, the believer would have to believe in, and worship, every possible god. Including the ones that haven't been invented yet. Aside from the drain on the available time, it presents the problem that quite a few of these gods are pretty selfish. They frown upon believers believing in other gods. In some religions that is enough to not be eligible for the reward (making the belief position a lose/neutral one).

      Also, just going through the motions and pretending to believe may fool your community, but it can't fool an all-knowing god. It is very unlikely that anyone would gain the ultimate reward for simply faking belief (making the belief position a lose/neutral one).

      The price paid for the belief position isn't nothing. It involves going through the rituals, day after day, week after week. It may have severe side effects on physical and mental health. Sex life suffers, too.

      In estimating whether the cost of any given action is worth it, an evaluation of risk versus reward is in order.

      Risk is (simplistically) the chance that a negative event occurs, multiplied by the cost of that event. As an example, being hit by a meteorite carries a very high cost (probably death), but since the odds are extremely low, the risk associated with it is low. Similarly, the chance of getting rained on is pretty high, but the cost is very low, representing also a low risk. On the other hand the cost and chances of, and therefore the risk associated with, a traffic accident are high.

      The choice whether to mitigate a risk depends on, among other things, the severity of the risk, the cost of the mitigation and the tolerance of that risk. In the above examples, the cost to mitigate each risk are; exorbitant, low and high, respectively. Methods to reduce or eliminate the risk of meteorite impacts are cost prohibitive and far exceed the risk. An umbrella and a check of the weather forecast effectively mitigate the risk of getting rained on, and is easily worth the cost. Car crashes, and their after-effects are mitigated to various degrees by expensive technology (from street surface technology to driver training, airbags and traction control). People bear those costs to their financial ability and tolerance for the risk.

      A similar reasoning applies to reward. The choice whether to pursue a reward is guided by the perception value of the reward, the perception of the odds of gaining the reward and the cost to pursue it.

      In the belief versus non-belief question, believers tend to irrationally overestimate both the reward for belief, and the risk associated with non-belief.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Viznix

      There have been thousands of so called "one true religions". In actuality, my choice of atheism is statistically just as valid as your choice of religion. What if you are wrong about the god you have chosen to worship? I live a very happy, successful, and humble life as an atheist. I don't feel that if there is a god, any god, he would punish me for simply not believing in him. If you believe that I should suffer an eternity in hell, same as people like Hitler that killed and tortured people, for simply not believing, then that is a very sad religion indeed.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Rick

      And what exactly is the true religion? Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Islam, Scientology? There is no true religion. Religion is nothing but a false reality. You worship "God", but not Allah, or Zeus, or Aphrodite, or Venus, or Mars? How can you prove to me your God was watching over all the violence that took place that day, but Zeus wasn't.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • John

      This is wrong on a number of levels. First, you're referring to Pascals Wager and that's already been proven to be a terribly poor reason to believe in something. Also, those percentages are meaningless. You are making a rather huge assumption that this "paradise" exists. There is not a single shred of evidence in any religious claims.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      If you're going to invoke probability of time investment paying off, then you must accept the modern concept of portfolio theory. Invest as much time in each religion that has a probability of being the one true religion according to the success or failure rate of the associated payoffs. If you invest 0.2% of your life on Islam and 15% on Methodism and it turns out that Islam was correct, you're covered for 0.2% of your immortal soul. The rest of your soul is, unfortunately, screwed.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      You assign a probability of 50% and have the gall to call yourself a scientist? Puhleeeze

      July 25, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  16. LorenB

    We don't know why God allowed the evil that happened in Colorado. We don't know why innocent people died there. One problem is that nobody's innocent; we are all sinners. A better question is: why does God allow good? In our culture of freedom and prosperity, we see evil as an aberration that interrupts the flow of good. But look at the rest of the world, where it's the other way around: good is an aberration that interrupts the flow of evil.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Scott M


      "...But look at the rest of the world, where it's the other way around: good is an aberration that interrupts the flow of evil...."

      I don't even know where to begin with that.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      We are all sinners? According to what, a book written, translated and edited by men with agendas?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  17. ml

    Do people really in this day and age still truly believe is some omnipotent being in the sky ( god, or allah, or whatever else).?? Really??? Really?!?!? I' mean honestly.. Its *un-be-lieve-able*... Astounding and amazing.. Wow... I think I'll decide to believe in Superman. And then I'll ask where he was every time a horrible tragedy happens that he could have prevented.. I mean. honestly.. do these people hear how ridiculous they sound?

    July 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Gohek

      People these days still believe that the universe came about by chance? Really? Considering the cause and effect law states otherwise, and if the atom that created the big bang is the exception to the rule, that means Jehovah/god can be too. Hmm I wonder who's looking the fool.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • ml

      The difference of course,Gohek, is that I didn't purport to have some knowledge of the origin of everything. I have no idea.. But I'm pretty freakin sure its most likely not some old guy with a white beard. I mean, really. gimmee a break.. BUt if you want to go with that , feel free. I'll stick with superman then...

      July 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • marinela

      I agree with you 100 per cent!! There is not God! I'm sick of people saying everytime there is a bad thing " there is a reason for this, it was god plans!! give a break! what good reason could be for all this innocent people to die?
      to me people try to explain somebody else mistake that lead to tragedy, in this case, missing that this guy was crazy, letting him buy all this ammunition, guns. is always a human fault, there is nothing about god!

      July 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  18. ObamaJoe

    Have a good night 🙂

    July 25, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  19. swohio

    THIS is why I don't like to engage in theological debates. Too many contentious comments that only serve to divide people.

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

      Thats exactly why Religion itself is the scourge of the world.. By its very definition it promotes intolerance.. And it plays on peoples fear. Scary stuff..

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

    MadTown, well then if they are the writings of men you have got quite a job on your hands trying to explain away the Bibles ability to foretell the future like it did with the destruction Babylon in 607 over 200 years in advance even naming the conqueror Cyrus by name. Or the fact that the earth was round long before men knew it or the exact sequence of the creative periods on the earth. For example that the whole world was first under water then dry land appeared, plants next, then fish, then birds then mammals. Probably all just a lucky guesses. If that’s so then I wish the Bible writer was around now to pick me some lottery numbers!

    July 25, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Bible is nothing more than hinduism, absurdity of hindu Jew's, filthy self centered to promote hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism.

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

      You are either high or have an extremely active imagination. Care to point to your sources of info there? Oh, and birds evolved – dinosaurs existed before any of those other animals you mentioned.

      And if the Bible is so great at prediction – give me a verse that predicts a specific event that will happen in the next 10 years. That's 10 whole years – sure you have something to work with there right? Or do you have to wait till it happens first – then go back to the text and try to read into it what you want?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214
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.