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. rwroten

    Free Will! As incredible as it seems God gave man Free Will to choose his path in life knowing that man would choose the wrong one and do terrible things to one another. God did not want to create robots to honor him so he gave mankind this awesome quality. But when the first man went his way he introduced what Christians and the Bible calls sin. Thereafter man's decisions to choose how he treats others, how he treats the earth and her resources, have lead to events like today of killings, global warming, depletion of natural resources, etc. But God made another awesome intro into the equation. A chance to come back and be restored to a right kind of living and making good choices. But not to elaborate on theology, the consequences of man's actions are to blame and God is not standing by ignoring what's happening. Hecould step in but maybe hewants man to do something about their choices and the use of their Free Will. The pain and suffering of the world is crying out to mankind to do something about it. God is pleading to us throug the suffering and pain of our own doing.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • One one

      God lets bad people kill at will.
      The devoted say it’s because of “free will”.
      Then why do they pray, and pray, and pray?
      For god to help them, day after day?
      They pray to god to improve their fate
      Their own free will they ask god to negate
      “Free will” for us all…, from the god of peace!
      Who sends us to hell for a wrong belief.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Observer

      Get serious. So God wanted many innocent people to be injured or die just to make his point? So he supported the murders?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • OrthoPA

      Why do we ask GOD to fix things when we all possess what it takes to do this anyway? WE can stop war, WE can change things...but it's soo hard, having HIM/HER come down from the heavens would certainly make it easy for us, wouldn't it? How about starting a massive blog about Random Acts of Kindness and Paying it Forward etc? I would think everyone, believers and non-believers, could rally around that...

      July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  2. Luvvy Duvvy

    God let's the planet and those on board have free will. Angels are sent to intervene now and then if need be, but life and death must go on.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  3. marianne

    There is no god!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • OrthoPA

      Once again...prove it...

      July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  4. FL

    God gave man free will. With the amount of effort and time spent pushing Him out of this country how can you ask this question?

    July 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  5. Chucky Upchuck

    God is where he's always been: in the middle ages–and the catholic church. Which are pretty much the same thing...

    July 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  6. Sam Yaza

    Yahweh like death
    he was probably eating popcorn and laughing his ass off

    July 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  7. Luis

    There is no God. God is just a fiction.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • OrthoPA

      prove it...

      July 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Tasso

      OrthaPA you must prove it.... if you think there is a god then prove it.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • OrthoPA

      Tasso. I don't have to prove anything. You said it...I believe there is a GOD. Whether you do or not, but you insist HE doesn't so the burden of proof is on you my friend. If you don't want to believe or acknowledge a GOD ok then but until you can prove there isn't a GOD, you have no basis on which to tell me he doesn't...

      July 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  8. Megan

    God was right where he was supposed to be. Everything does happen for a reason–We have to trust that His plan is the right plan.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  9. independentlyowned

    As Augustine stated in ‘Confessions,’: “Either God is not able to abolish evil or not willing; if he is not able then he is not all-powerful; if he is not willing then he is not all-good.”

    July 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  10. Marc Leger

    Which god was it?


    July 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      She had to take refuge in a cave following a bit of domestic violence. This caused a stoppage of sunlight and she had to be lured outside the barricaded entrance which involved a jewelled necklace and her reflection in a mirror.

      What Goddess can resist a little flattery? And she does have a sunny personality."

      i'm rather insulted it was actually Uzume getting naked and dancing and the joyful laughter of the other gods all through she does shine beautifully so bright intelligent and cheerfully you cant look directly at her without going blind but yet your drone to gaze at her beauty,,.... f4ck i'm flattering her again

      Amaterasu daisuki

      July 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  11. QS

    "Where was god in Aurora?"

    Same place it's been since it was created....in the minds and imaginations of men.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • svchost


      July 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • BucketDrop


      July 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Satan

      You are doing well. Come home soon my child.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Tasso

      There is no satan either....lol!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • JC

      How can you not see God ? The operative was armed to the teeth with hundreds of rounds of ammo and only 12 dead ? Shotgun, .223 armor piercing bullets, 40 cal and only a dozen dead..? . Now I mourn the loss of 12 innocents, but what if this was Norway with 70 or 100 dead ? Then you could ask the question where was GOD...... How else could you explain it ???

      July 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  12. Kelly

    Whether or not you believe that god exists, you have to admit that declaring that these people's deaths were god's judgement is extremely harsh and insensitive to the victims and their families. They have no reason to believe that the people who died were bad people, and I don't think they were. When I hear Christians saying this, it makes me lose faith in faith. For people who are supposed to "love one another" they find it very easy to ignore the ordeal that these people are going through.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  13. TooClose2DC

    Why the H$*L is this even on CNN except to create hate and discontent? CNN is making money off of a tragedy and ensuring they keep viewers/readers by these non-newsworthy events.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  14. Justin Ammerman

    You are wasting your time trying to understand God. If you have no personal relationship with the one you seek answers from you will waste your life with empty questions. These types of things happen simply because either someone or several people chose to look past the warning signs and wait until it is too late to act. If you believe this person woke up one morning and decided to pull off a tragedy of this magnitude, you are simply fooling yourself. There had to be someone or several people within the community that knew this person and should have been actively engaged in his life enough to see the warning signs. This was undoubtedly conspired and premeditated which simply results in a failure of the community to love one another. If we as Americans were not so caught up in our selfish daily routines we would stop to get involved in peoples lives around us, so that we can help those in need. This person showed a clear need of attention and a cry for help. I do not discount what he did and he should not be let free of the responsibility of his actions. However, I believe the blood is on all of our hands for not taking action earlier and waiting for another tragedy to strike Colorado before we start asking questions. It is easy to blame this on God and the funny thing is, I believe He does accept ultimate responsibility. It is sickening that everytime a tragedy strikes our nation we try to hide behind God or satan, but we never blame the fathers and mothers of these children or the community members that should be actively involved in the lives of would be serial killers.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  15. A Free Thinker

    We invented God and all of the other concepts such as Heaven and Hell that are associated with the Bible. Since "God" is all powerful and has free reign, He could certainly create a website and/or He could simply reveal Himself to the world to demonstrate His existence. I read a post in which the author wrote that he felt that God would have shown Himself by now if He exists. I agree with this and wonder why such a powerful and omnipotent figure remains invisible especially when there is so much doubt regarding His existence? Obviously, He has the power to prove Himself to the world. Also, since there are thousands of Gods, which one(s) does one choose to believe in? If only one or some of them are chosen, then all others are rejected. If one believes in one or some Gods, what does it mean to them not to believe in and worship the others? Why is one or some of them worthy of belief, but the others are not? How is this determination made? When questions such as these are pondered, it becomes obvious that God and other Biblical notions are nonsense!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Satan

      Keep up the good work. See you again soon.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Dave

      You're ramblings are not of a logical mind. You've got the right seeds, but need years of study to find that many of your questions are actually factually able to be answered... your heart in my opinion is in the right place. Remember, nothing is obvious, however, as nothing is absolute... which is the only absolute thing.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Dave

      Lol, just noticed the 'Satan' post... hilarious 🙂

      July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • A Free Thinker

      What is illogical about these thoughts and questions?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Dave

      I don't have time to nor care to explain too far, as self realization is more important. As in Art of War studying one you agree with or disagree with will allow you to better understand them. Many aspects of your comments you'd have answers to if you read the bible or other religious book corresponding. Faith based religions don't need a ton of what you've described, so they incorporate safety nets for such attempts at logical conjecture. To ask about them would therefore be illogical. It's not a jab at you... but you did name yourself Free Thinker, so I figured I'd provide a slight push in a particular direction. Have a nice day man.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  16. william

    when did this turn into god and away from this sick person that took all those lifes and hurt so many others?

    July 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  17. CNNuthin

    God had a front row seat to the whole thing, and he was probably laughing his divine off at how stupid and helpless we have become. We allow sick people to go unchecked and armed around this world. He is watching the funniest comedy he has ever seen.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  18. matt

    This has nothing to do with "god". Some crazy dude did something crazy. that's all that happened. theres no need to discuss why a fictional man in the sky allowed this to happen. There is no person in the sky telling humans what to do. People are crazy and that's why people believe in this fairy tale stuff and do crazy things cause "god" told them to do it. This is ridiculous, who decided this would be a good headline on CNN????

    July 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  19. what

    This is why I can't stand media when things happen.. Seriously have nothing else to talk about so had to bring religion into this? If it isn't race it's religion. The media causes more problems in society then anyone else.. If we didn't have them pushing the blame on everything possible maybe we would be a friendlier world..

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

      Please tell us that if the shooter had been a Muslim, that Christians would not have mentioned religion.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  20. Osro

    Since God is a fictional character, that day he/she/it was with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Superman- existing only in imagination.

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

      Well done young underling.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:31 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.