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. ArthurP

    The Bible is the work of the Devil. Which actually explains a lot.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  2. dgl

    God has given each of us free will. Not many of us would wish to have that gift taken away. But with that gift comes the power to do both good and bad. Much is done on this earth that is specifically NOT God's will, but he can work with us, in whatever situations we put ourselves, toward his final plan for us – happiness in heaven.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      free will:The term used by religious affiliated people to explain the total absence of god when someone does something bad.

      Free willy. a movie about a whale

      July 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • just askin

      glad to see that the copy/paste is working

      July 25, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      See the only problem with the concept of 'free will' is that this means that god is not all knowing.
      God give me free will I can choose 'A' or 'B'. God does not know WHAT I'm going to choose ... therefore he is not omniscient.
      God DOES know what I'm going to choose ... which makes him great if I save the life of a shooting victim in a movie theater. Or an accomplice to murder if I walk into a movie theater with four guns and kill 12 people.
      Free will is a myth

      July 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • gregg

      What? Religious people always have an excuse and an answer for all things....

      And it usually involves some mumbo jumbo like this.

      Religion is the crutch of the ignorant, used by the powerful for centuries to control mankind through fear of retribution.

      And even in this modern age it has not changed, how any thinking person can..... I cannot even finish it.

      You all hide behind "God" no matter the religion to justify anything that happens and to justify bigotry, hate, abuse, wars, conquering of people.... and the only people "gaining" from all this are the Church and their leaders.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  3. Marc

    God lives in a high and holy place, but also with the helpless, the hopeless, and the hurting. Why doesn't God stop atrocities like this from happening? Sometimes He does. Sometimes He doesn't. Holding on to faith in a fallen world is tough, but I guess I have faith

    July 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • atheistictruth

      That's because your gullibility outweighs your rational judgement.

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

      I believe in God because of creation, conscience, the cross, changed lives, and confirmations of His presence. That's not gullibility, that's an informed decision

      July 25, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Marc

      God was in Aurora comforting the afflicted, receiving new arrivals into His kingdom, preserving those whose time had not yet come, and reminding us all of the fleeting nature of existence

      July 25, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  4. Brother Maynard

    177 pages and counting over 8000 responses and counting.
    ALL this input and although I have not read every single post ... I have not found ONE that answer to the question. Which tells me that nobody knows "Where god was in the Aurora massacre?" If you do not know where god was ... you don't know god. Welcome to the world of agnosticism.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  5. dastreagus

    you aren't in kansas anymore. the lollipop guild are history. Have fun over the rainbow. The orange brick road must lead straight to the Colluseum.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  6. Vern Sawyer

    Real answer: He was in Hell, high-fiving Satan while they tortured aborted fetuses for all eternity.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  7. Richard

    Only in America would someone write a stupid article like this.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  8. Evian Bidet

    which "god" are we talking about? I assume there were atheists, christians, jews, muslims in the theater that night. If that madman killed a muslim, the christian doesn't believe the muslim knows god or makes it to heaven, regardless of the level of morality of the muslim.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  9. Richard

    Only in America would someone write a stupid article like this. I guess it appeals to the right wing base

    July 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  10. Ryan

    God doesnt meddle in mans actions. Thats why he gave us choice. Not for us to make a choice and him take it away. Theres ALWAYS a choice to be made. Whether it be shoot someone or simply help another human being. As people we have a choice to do what we want to do. God will not intervene in our choices and i agree with him.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      "God doesnt meddle in mans actions."
      Yes he does. My church says so.

      " Thats why he gave us choice. Not for us to make a choice and him take it away. Theres ALWAYS a choice to be made."
      He doesn't give us choice. My church says so.

      "Whether it be shoot someone or simply help another human being. As people we have a choice to do what we want to do. God will not intervene in our choices and i agree with him."
      Yes, he does intervene. My church says so.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • WhereWasGod?TacoBell

      If this god thingie can't and/or won't intervene, then why do you believe in prayer? You xians are so confused, and, well, not so bright. And that's just one mind-blowing FAIL you can't seem to admit about your cult.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  11. just sayin

    Safe to say the victims were not in God's favor that night. Betty at the casino apparently was when she gave credit to him for winning. God was at a sporting event helping an athlete. God helps those who are deserving. Simple...stay in God's favor or face what they did. This will be a good Christian learnign opportunity for your little ones......them how some of the children were blown to bits because they were not "good" or in God's favor.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • gregg

      Your kidding right? A good Christian learning opportunity? More like a good indoctrination opportunity. 'If you are not good someone will shoot you cause you are not in God's good grace"

      PLEASE!! Again, just religion trying to control man through fear of some divine event.......

      So the Muslims, Jews, Hindu's, and Atheists also use this as a teaching moment.
      The arrogance of religious people of any denomination astounds me

      Religion is a crutch for the ignorant

      July 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  12. dastreagus

    picture tag* Are the Romans crucifying midgets again?

    July 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • just sayin

      Now that is funny. Midgets walking by his crosses were uneasy. lol

      July 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  13. Frank IV

    How self-important are we to assume any god(s) would even care about this incident? Any extant god would have the whole universe to look/preside over, and we are but an insignificant, one-infinityith portion of that creation. I would think a tragedy like this would leave any god largely unconcerned.

    I am always amazed by all the fervent responses to questions (such as this) which cannot be answered using rational, evidence-based arguments. Who cares why, or if, some god allowed it? Let us understand why we allowed it, or what drives an otherwise intelligent being to do this, or how we can minimize these events from occuring quite so often rather than worrying about petty argumentative questions such as this.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Howie

      Exactly--great post

      July 25, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  14. James

    God was always there...But when people turn from God they do worldly things...If you follow just basic rules, do not lie, do not cheat, do not steal, do not covet, love your neighbor as you love yourself...These are deffinetly not things you hear taught anymore...So people are searching...Say for example there isn't a God...And you have no good guidelines to guide your life...Stealing is still wrong, so is killing, and lying, and cheating...Man has gone back a long ways...So don't blame God....Blame the people who were supposed to teach this guy what is right and wrong...From his neighbors, his friends, his family, his teachers....But as long as man thinks he is his own god, then don't get surprised when things like this happen...And the ones who believe there is a God, don't be surprised when things like this happen...We have a free will, but God believing people need to understand, we have sat around and kept silient...Our kids are not being taught, our government is corrupt....We have to take ourselves out of the picture and put other people first...

    July 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • OOO

      What are worldly things?

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

      Are you serious?? Even my five year old who has not ben exposed to much religion knows it is wrong to harm or steal etc!!! She does not need religion to tell her that, it is call COMMON SENSE!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  15. Storey

    This reminds me of the biblical story of Elijah when he was being chased by Jezebel who was trying to kill him. He ran and hid in a cave but then came further tragedy and chaos – the earthquake, wind, and fire. But the Bible mentions that God isn't in any of these things, but in the "still, small voice." I think, like this story, that God was there, but He wasn't in the anger, the madness, the death. That still, small voice of good was there and is still here today in the care shown in friends protecting friends, in the reason that broke through fear, and in the triumph of love that is bringing comfort and togetherness to those even in the face of destruction. Are we all listening 100% of the time? Maybe not, but that still, small voice of Love is there for each of us and we can trust it to help us especially in times of trouble. It is the only true voice and the one that wins in the end.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Truth is relative. Also, giving God all the credit for the good stuff and absolving him of all the bad is a pretty severe deviation from logical thought.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  16. Wayfaring Stranger

    The power of the cross puts all the atheists in a tizzy. Unwad your panties!

    July 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • matt in nw

      guess you could use one to fight undead creatures... other than that i fail to what power you are referring to.

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

      It is pretty powerful, I can kill vampires with it!

      July 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  17. Salero21

    The CULT, Enamoring and Fascination with guns is pretty well illustrated by the choice of Entertainment the Populace makes. Add to that the nonsense of taking babies at midnight, to an enviroment like a movie where noisy violence is the standard and presto, there you have it! Just one more in a Billionth of pieces of daily Evidence of what I just said.

    Who in the world does that? Fanatics is the answer.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  18. Kevin L.

    If God has ever or will ever intervene in the affairs of men, he probably only did it at the beginning of time and will only do it again at the end, if there even is one. I'm certain there is no force that intervenes on a daily basis. In that sense, God was not there. He's not here to save us and he's not here to kill us. If he did anything, he set the universe in motion, and what we do after that is all up to us.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  19. Daniel Denney

    Not being a mystic of any sort, I don't know where God was, but I know what he was doing–weeping along with the rest of us. God had nothing to do with this–just one very sick young man. His family, the families of those killed, and those who survived, need our continued prayers.

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

      You mean the national security agency? Yeah where was "god"?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  20. dastreagus

    Aliens or Lightening bolts? The Aliens answer in reverse rhymes and riddles, and lightening bolts will burn your house down. I'll just go to the beach and look at mother earthlings.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:03 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.