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. Lmw

    Question is not where was god, it is where are we.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  2. Jesus - The Blond-Haired Blue-Eyed White Hippy

    Where was god?

    Why, the same place 'he' was during the Holocaust.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Qman

      Great question! But I will start your answer with one. Do you understand the context of the relationship between the jews and our god?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  3. Qman

    Ahh... This topic will definitely brings out the sores in everybody.

    The best way to approach it is to bring an open mind from both sides. God was there that day. He's with us every day. We can all argue specifics on where we believe he is, or is not. But how do all of us whom were not there – know god wasn't? Simply because people died? Or people lived? Both good points, but do not bring in the spectrum of the situation. In that room a man had a gun. He had a concious in is head screaming at him not to do it. He also most likely had an itch to do it as well. The fact of the matter is, we all have an internal struggle for our souls. And he chose his route. We all have a choice of which god has gracefully given, and it really isnt a matter of why god didnt miraculously save everyone, or stop him. We all have had our chances to be saved, and many of us will choose to ignore it – like this man did. And because of his choice, and him ignoring what god has given us (his way of communicating–our concious) then people died–but not everyone. God saw this choice, and gave people the strength to perservier over their fear-and in some cases save lives. The automatic weapon he was is a very reliable weapon. But some how jammed and many more people were able to escape. We can all imagine on why that really happened, but only god will know the truth. So I honestly do believe he was there that day, and will always continue to walk with us through our lives. It is-and always has been up to us to get over our earthly sins and mind set to really understand the truth behind a lot of this.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      Qman you said a lot of nothing there.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Qman

      Don't read with your eyes closed.

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

      @The best way to approach it is to bring an open mind from both sides. God was there that day. He's with us every day. We can all argue specifics on where we believe he is, or is not.

      lol what a hypocritical post, like most religious people. if you had an open mind, you wouldnt believe in god, or you would say i believe god was there, not say it like it was true.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Qman


      I respect your opinion, but I do not understand what you're trying to say. To have an open mind means you cannot believe in God?

      None the less, what I meant was to understand where both sides are coming from and what they are trying to state, rather than simply just shutting it out because they feel differently than you.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • erick

      im saying if religious people had open minds they would realize the ridiculousness of it all, to follow something blindly without any evidence is insane. there are still people in america that believe in noahs ark, that man lived in a fiish, man walked on water but wait he was god, so how did god get here? science can explain everything and eventually will, they just found the higgs boson which is a huge step to figuring out how we got here instead of simplifying it by saying god created us.

      we know god didnt create us, its fact, we know earth is billions of years old, any human with any type of common sense wont buy the idea that a man grabbed 2 of each animal and put them on this ship, millions of species all crammed into one ship lol.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Qman

      Thanks for clerifying!

      And you are most certainly right in the aspect of how some of these things may seem extreme. But the point is unfortunately flawed –i'll tell you why.

      The human mind is limited. We are imperfect. The more discoveries we as humans make the more we seem to understand that. The same scientists who cannot explain the reasoning of the mayan calenders are the same ones whom cannot explain many achient civilizations–including those in the bible. So why should we go off of something of which is soley based on a theory? And, can you explain why these sceintists who perform these tasks tend to believe something more exists? Such as a god?

      Look at it in this light.

      Do you believe in darkness? Most people do. Why? Darkness is not something that can be measured. It is something with out mass, or a single atom to its being. Thus, scientifically it doesn't exist. But you believe it does! Why? Because you can see it? Darkness is only seen due to the abscense of light of which is due to the limitations of our eyes. Just because we can't explain something with our scientific reasoning doesn't mean it does not exist. I could give you many reasons why this aspect cannot be given to god, becuase like i stated above, our knowledge is limited. And there are many discoveries in our world that prove of his existance.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  4. Joya P Hasim

    he uses the Evil doing for his popularity, he's a suicide madman

    July 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Joya P Hasim

      GOD was present and the Guy don't know GOD

      July 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm |

    Their is no god but you.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the grammar gestapo's son

      "There is"

      July 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  6. Sharon

    God was there. He's always there in a tragedy. He was the three men saving their girlfriends. He was the mother who laid over her kids to protect them. Please don't blame God for this tragedy. This sick man made the choice to go and kill people. God gives everyone the choice to do good or bad. if we always did good we'd be mindless drones. The choices that we make either draw us towards God or away from him. Salvation is free. Whether you accept it is free will.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Most choices we make have nothing to do with God. I chose between Raisin Bran and Corn Flakes this morning.

      Assigning all the good stuff to God and all the bad stuff to free will is inconsistent with an omnipotent, omnipresent, perfectly benevolent being.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Cecilia

      U stated it perfectly.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Cecilia

      Sharon stated it perfectly.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • erick

      where was god during the holocaust.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  7. John

    Well, God planned on showing up to stop the whole thing, as a matter of fact, God was on the way; but then God realized how expensive gas was and decided to stop somewhere and have a beer instead.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  8. tensai13

    Wow! That first comment from Pastor Riley really floored me. I guess Pastor means dumb-ass in Latin?

    July 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  9. TNway

    God gives us free will to choose to do good or evil. He never forces us to harm anyone. Unfortunately we live in culture that is fascinated by violence. The movie and gaming industry are only to happy to oblige by supplying story lines and evil characters that influence weak-minded individuals who have been raised without a conscience. Frankly, I think Hollywood deserves some of the blame for this tragedy. But also, we need to realize how important it is to raise children to have a conscience so they can distinguish between right and wrong. A fully-formed human soul must be taught to empathize with the pain of others so hurting another person would be unthinkable.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      True, but you don't really need a God concept to do that.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  10. Sly

    It's a huge, common mistake to use science as your religion. Science changes all the time, it goes from being 100% certain of one thing to 100% certain of the exact opposite, sometimes within the same generation. There will probably come a time, if the Earth lasts long enough, that science finally becomes advanced enough to confirm the existence of God, probably a little while after it confirms 100% that God doesn't exist.

    People invent a standard of proof for a God that supercedes the physical world, then cry when He doesn't meet their standard on their terms. It's their way not of discovering truth, but of settling for a more certain, more finite reality. In rejecting God, you are creating a self fulfilling prophesy, causing your existence to be limited to your time on Earth. Because misery loves company, you present it as though you reject God because you are sure He is not real, but what's really happening is that you don't know He's not real, but resent the idea of being asked to be obedient to Him, so you kill Him from your own consciousness and choose eternal death. People should just get over themselves. Science really hasn't done all that much amazing. Granted it's pretty cool that you can get a whole tv show to show up over a wire coming into your house, but that's pretty weak compared to actually rising from the dead.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Qman


      July 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Fn0rdz

      There's no evidence for your god or gods, and your faith has accomplished nothing that scientific inquiry and rational thought could not have done. On the flip side, science has accomplished changes in human understanding, progress in life expectancy and medicine, and general improvement of the human condition on a massive scale... none of which faith has accomplished. I'll take science any day.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Science is never 100% sure of anything, hence the term "theory." If you knew anything about science at all, you would at least know that. Ignoramus.

      Also, science is the reason you're here if you were born in a hospital and never got polio. That's pretty amazing. Also, through cloning, we're already coming pretty close to "bringing people back from the dead." It turns out, it's not all that hard.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Sly

      I think it's hilarious that people claim science has done so many great things. What's really changed that much? Wow, there are some drugs and medical procedures out there that can save a life. "Science" has also learned so much that it's genetically engineering the foods we eat and we're getting cancers and heart disease at record rates. Now here comes "science" to make a few more drugs and get us sick while we stave off the effects of all the cancer it gave us. Big freaking deal, it's not like we're even living to 100 on average yet,and if we did, who cares anyway? "Science" is just another business sector trying to survive. They give a little here, they take a little there, it changes nothing in the end.

      God, on the other hand, changes everything and actually gives life. There's plenty of evidence to support this. It just seems to befuddle all those scientific geniuses when God doesn't ask "how high?" when they try to tell him to jump, lol.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • TR6

      I will believe in your god when he can pass the test of Elijah as described in the bible 1 Kings 18:1-40

      Your god does not pass his own test

      July 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  11. Lori B

    Well I don't usually post things, but it just irks me to no end when a disaster happens and everyone cries "Where was God?" Why should he be there? What do we do for him? Regardless, of your beliefs, some will get this and some won't, but that is up to you to figure out. How is your personal relationship with God? Do you devote any time to him? He will not intervene where he is not wanted. Half if not more of the world think God, Christ and the Bible are a joke anyhow, so don't dare ask that question "Where was God?" if you are one of them.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  12. Fn0rdz

    Epicurus attacked this issue over 2000 years ago and his questions still have meaning today:
    "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 5:18 pm |
    • elopez

      Careful, bro. You've read other books other than the Bible. You're a pagan elitist who is out to destroy America! 😉

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

      Would that more americans read Epicurus in place of the bible. I'm sure we'd all be better off.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  13. nancy

    The western religions are named "authoritarian" because that's what they are. So-called "holy books" were written by people, not a god, so they could have control over the masses. It's all about CONTROL and domination by a small group of people in power over the rest of us. What a bunch of hipocrites! SELL THE VATICAN, FEED THE WORLD

    July 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  14. Darryl

    Where was god that day?
    He was with each of the victims that day. He was with the people of Aurora.
    He has a plan and purpose for everything.
    You just cant see it yet because the people of Aurora are too close to the tragedy. Its too soon to understand the bigger picture.
    Need an example? April 20, 1999 Littleton Colorado – 13 victims of the Columbine high school shooting.
    That tragedy was just as senseless, tragic, and sad, but had a purpose.
    Now that time has passed since that shooting, we can look back at some of the events that followed it with a "big picture" view.
    One of the victims was told before the shooting that she would be a victim of homicide soon, but it was God's plan for her.
    She was told that her life's example would be used to touch the lives of millions of people.
    Her name was Rachel Joy Scott. An unknown teenager, from a little town in Colorado. Not a celebrity or anyone famous. Her family wrote a book called Rachel's Tears. Read it and you'll learn how God's plan was communicated to her and how his promises to her were fulfilled.
    She was killed first, and the news of her death, along with the other 12 spread quickly, just as the Aurora tragedy has.
    As the facts of her short life, and the many accounts of her kind acts of compassion to others became known to the media, so did the sense of loss and the questions of why did this have to happen.
    Four days after her death, her memorial service was broadcast worlwide without commercial interruption by CNN news. What do you suppose would influence the executives at CNN to broadcase her service, a virtual unknown teenager, to millions of people worldwide? Never in the history of CNN had this been done. Do you suppose it was a coincidence, or part of the plan to catch the attention of millions of people worldwide, and mourn the loss of such a precious life trying to live her life by Christian values. Does anyone have any idea how many lives were impacted by that moment? How many people stopped to remember how precious life is, and how important it is to treat one another with compassion. How many parents and people in the world took a new look at life, and made it a point to mend differences with family and friends. How many lives do you think might have been saved by showing the world how senseless such a tragic act can have on everyone.
    The tragedy inspired Rachel's family to create the largest school anti violence organization in the world, called Rachel's Challenge. Google it, and you'll see this organization has touched the lives of millions of people, 18 million to date, and touching more everyday. Just as God promised Rachel Joy Scott. So, when you look back at this tragedy and the Aurora tragedy, and ask why, try to look at the big picture, and have faith that God has a plan and purpose for everything. Never forget.....

    July 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      Darryl, Darryl, oh Darryl... this is not very convincing.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • donsevers

      That would all be great, except for the fact that God could have accomplished any greater good without Rachel's death. He's all-powerful and very clever. Letting people die to further his great purposes would never be necessary for him.

      God left many horrors out of creation. It seems he could have omitted one more, say pediatric cancer. When we see someone shooting people, we intervene. God famously doesn't.

      If God uses people this way when he doesn't have to, he is evil and sadistic. It seems he could accomplish is aims some other way. I, for one, am overjoyed there seems to be no God. Life is difficult enough. It would be heartbreaking to learn that it was set up this way on purpose, and that God watches us suffer when it's not necessary.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  15. Tom Cruise

    There is no god, people – only Scientology!

    July 25, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  16. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    Where was God? Only in the imaginations of believers!

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

    ass hole is tight. I love ass hole that is clean and silky.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  18. Lauryn

    People if there was a God none of the senseless crap would be going on in this world. Keep in mind Christians, that the bible states that he has planned out your life from birth to death. If thats the case then this was Gods plan for those innocent people that were killed. If you are a true believer then this is something you'll have to accept. Or... you could grow a brain and realize there is no mystical being looking after the well being the the whole world. If there is, he needs to be fired cause he seriously sucks at his job.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      "God doesn't act the way I want Him to, therefore he doesn't exist" is a logical fallacy. If you're going to be an atheist, at least learn the rules.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  19. n8r0n

    Same place God has always been ... in the imaginations of gullible people, who are more comfortable hanging on to this thousand year-old security blanket than facing the reality that this is all just mythology.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  20. dastreagus

    I love beautiful asses. Women with nice asses should be protected by better men than these gi joe ass holes.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:16 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.