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. JD

    God was there when the gun jammed! god loved us sooo much he gave us free will,but he steps in on occasion.AMEN!

    July 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  2. Jerico

    Revelation 12:12

    July 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  3. a12yearold

    god's not real

    July 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • XO

      Then you're not real.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  4. dee1

    Reality took a break that day, and with this national mass hysteria going on driving some of us to purchase bigger and bigger weapons, for fear of zombies, or other hollywood catastrophes, a lot of us are a little out of touch, and let us not deter capitalism in any way, even if limiting some things such as a worldwide ban on pseudophed, or a limit on assault type weapons in personal hands, as that would cause a loss of a sale for someone somewhere just out to make a buck, and in the hollywood movies or video games putting some realism such as real possible consequences in their content may not be so popular

    July 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  5. XO

    People are over complicating things. If God instantly put away with evil, the moment it occurred, without rhyme, reason or judgment- this... would be the highest form of evil.

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

      So getting rid of "evil" is "evil?" Then what is "good?" You make little sense.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • XO

      @t3chn0ph0b3: How does my remark imply this? Read Scripture, and you will see the project plan God has outlined to rid the Universe of evil.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @XO I wish he would hurry up and get rid of all this evil.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  6. snart

    There is no God. God is a crutch for weak minded people that can't accept reality...

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

      Scripture clearly repeat that many will use religion to manipulate the masses. This should not weaken your faith, but affirm it.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • elopez

      Nietzsche also states the same. Should I deepen my belief in his writings, or take it as what it is: another book?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • XO

      @elopez: Many religions plagiarize off each other. Many people who read the Bible are are just as off the mark (if not more) than those who read other religious texts. Simply reading and believing in something is pointless- if it is wrong. So what you believe means nothing as far as truth is concerned. Science and Psalm 51 5,6 indicates communication starts in the womb. God initiated this communication with us. Without God speaking to you, your faith is wrong and dead.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  7. RANDY

    Lenny and Jesse r said it all..Well done guys..

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

      Except they didn't. A quick Google search will show that mass killings were happening long before this. They happened in the 1920's, 1940's and even 1800's. These happened a long time before the so-called "war on religion" that is supposedly happening.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  8. jeremy

    This is ANTI GOD CNN AT WORK anyone whom is a Christian Muslim or any God beliving human should de activate there account in protest......

    July 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • elopez

      I'm pretty dure this is still for-profit-CNN trying to report news in a for-profit-manner. Relax, you're gonna have a heart attack.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  9. S. Johnson

    In my religious view, there are only two things that can happen: things that God makes happen (miracles) and things that God allows to happen. We are sent to earth as a test to prove whether or not we are good people while not in the direct presence of God. We have complete and total free agency. This man acted as a free agent. My religion believes there is a life after this one. One in which these people will be able to continue living....that sweet little girl will be able to grow up there. God will compensate those people for the life they lost here on earth. God loves us all, he wants nothing but the best for us. But if only good things happened to us we would become complacent and ungrateful. We would take everything for granted. It's only when we are reminded how fragile we are and how important those we love are that we are truly alive. God wants us to become like his Son. If nothing bad happened to anyone, how could we show love to others? How could we reach out? Look at all the love that people are showing for each other because of these events. I know I have been hugging my kids a little closer lately. God loves us, those that suffer in this life find peace in the next.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • waterman

      Okay, so we have free will . Answer this: When a baby is born, do you think God knows that he/she will become? What s/he will do in life? Every detail? Only some details? And if God knows, does the baby/person have a chance to alter that, based on their free will? And if they do alter it, then God didn't really know what was going to happen, did he? And if we can't alter it, then where is free will?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • donsevers

      > God will compensate those people for the life they lost here on earth.

      Does infinite bliss after death cancel it earthly pain? This seems callous. What do we tell kids in agony? All's well that ends well? Anyone knows that a comfortable, full life followed by heaven is better than a desperate, painful life followed by heaven. At minimum, life isn't fair. Should it be? Only if we say there is a loving God presiding over it all.

      We can imagine a terrible disease that God didn't put in the world. Say, spontaneous eye bursting. It follows, then, that something like Stevens-Johnson syndrome could have been left out. It's hard to imagine that God couldn't create a world without this disease, since he has already created a world without many horrible, but possible, conditions.

      So what do we tell an 8 year old boy with this condition?

      You: "God has chosen you for a great purpose. And when it's over you'll have infinite bliss in heaven forever."

      Child: "Do all the kids get chosen this way?"

      "No, most of them grow up, go to prom, have vacations and weddings and potlucks and football games. Most live until they're 70 or so and die of something far less difficult."

      "Do they go to heaven, too?"

      "Not all of them, but some of them."

      "So my skin blisters, turns black, falls off and I die 8 weeks later of runaway infections and then go to heaven. They live full lives and go to heaven. Is it necessary that I get sick and die when I'm 8?"

      "No. God had to allow people to choose evil to allow freely chosen good, but your suffering has nothing to do with free will, so it's not necessary. But you and your parents will learn deep lessons about the world God chose to create. Of course, other people learn those lessons via less harsh methods and end up in heaven anyway. How about this, your soul will be built by this suffering?"

      "Do the lucky people build their souls, too, without their skin falling off?"


      "Could I be like them instead of like me?"

      "Yes, but you aren't."

      July 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  10. LOL

    @t3chn0ph0b3 you are too. LOL

    July 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  11. georgex

    The Internet allows many doubters to express their views here as we become a more open society. There are organizations for non-believers such as http://www.secular.org that have meetings and projects.
    Personally, I don't think we can blame God for these killings anymore than we should give him credit for the survivors.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  12. Bambi

    God gives us ALL free will. ALL of us. He is there to pick up the pieces after our decisions are made. Good and bad. Satan runs a pretty large streak through this world. Some people are God's soldiers and some are Satan's soldiers. God wins some and Satan wins some. I still think God is winning the Big Game and I think I will stick with him.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • plaster city

      Is that your real name, cause it fits.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      Ok Bambi, answer this...

      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 5:27 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      Nevermind – i just read your post again. You can't answer it, because you won't be able to understand it.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Jack Shown

      If god brings home Bambi from his Big Game hunt, I'm not partaking in any of the venison.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • WhereWasGod?TacoBell

      Your god thingie created your satan thingie. In fact, your god creates evil – isaiah 45:7 – how does that make you feel? Another monumental FAIL you xians can't explain away about your cult is, how a supposed all-loving (benevolent) deity actually allows this satan thingie to exist when it is supposedly all-powerful (omnipotent) and could destroy it at will if it wanted to do so. You xians say it doesn't intervene on earth and that's why it doesn't stop bad things from happening like earthquakes, tsunamis, 911, this shooting, yet you swear by prayer? Another contradiction and major FAIL your cult can't ever explain away. To show how lost you are, this article has 180 pages of comments, yet you are so blinded by fear and ego you FAIL to even grasp how important the question this article poses is.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • XO

      @ HappyMadison: You're over simplifying things with faulty logic. Man has a will. God has a will. God is graceful and long suffering and will only tolerate so much. When the 2 come into conflict- hence the flood. I parent my kids in the same manner.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Bambi

      Nice to see I got some people thinking. And yes, that is my real name. And yes it does fit but not for reasons you might be thinking. Wow. People really can't stand people having their own opinions when it differs from their own. Quite sad really.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      XO – if you think my logic is faulty, than you find yourself agreeing with me. 🙂

      You said God's will ultimately wins out. In my original question that was answer #2. Thanks for playing.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • What IF


      Wow! You toss your kids into the barbecue pit for eternity when your "grace" is over-taxed?

      Those ancient dinosaurs must have REALLY sinned, eh? Totally wiped out... the coc.kroaches and bacteria, however, were/are quite saintly and remain today!

      July 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • XO

      @HappyMadison: Your logic is faulty. You can both have free will and be taken down by the creator. There are no conflicts here. Even when God rids the Universe of sin, He will not override your free will by dragging you into His Heaven kicking and screaming. Heaven would be hell in this case. In His mercy, He will second your free will and give you what you want (separation from Him). A father once told a kid, sit down. Kid said no. Father physically forced him sit down. Kid said I'm still standing up in my mind. No mental take over to control wills here.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • XO

      @What IF: Where do you get the idea that God tosses anyone into hell for eternity? From the Baptist? Or from reading Scripture. Not following the dinosaur and roach remark.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      XO: I don't know what you are calling "logic" but it's clearly not the standard definition.

      If God's will and man's will conflict – one must be true and the other must be false. They cannot both happen at the same exact moment.

      Since logic and math coincide, and in math you do proofs, I'll give you a proof about God's free will:

      Assume that person X has free will (assumption).
      By the definition of free will, at any point in time, X can choose to do any action A, where A belongs to A(T), the set of all actions that X is physically capable of at time T (definition of free will).
      At time T, person X will choose to do action A (i.e. a person cannot logically choose to do both A and not A) (Law of the Excluded Middle).
      Assume that an omniscient God exists (assumption).
      By the definition of omniscience, God knows everything that will happen at any point in time (definition of omniscience).
      From 3. and 5., God knows that at time T, person X will choose to do action A (logical conclusion).
      Therefore, person X must do action A at time T.

      Now, why don't you do the same and show me a proof that God's will and man's will can coexist at the same moment?

      Unless, of course, you don't really understand what logic is and you cannot backup your claim.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      XO: Here's another proof for you as well:

      Yesterday God infallibly believed T. (Supposition of infallible foreknowledge as a subset of omniscience)
      If E occurred in the past, it is now-necessary that E occurred then. (Principle of the Necessity of the Past)
      It is now-necessary that yesterday God believed T. (1, 2)
      Necessarily, if yesterday God believed T, then T. (Definition of “infallibility”)
      If p is now-necessary, and necessarily (p → q), then q is now-necessary. (Transfer of Necessity Principle)
      So it is now-necessary that T. (3, 4, 5)
      If it is now-necessary that T, then God cannot do otherwise. (Definition of “necessary”)
      Therefore, God cannot do otherwise. (6, 7)
      If God cannot do otherwise when God does an act, God does not act freely. (Principle of Alternate Possibilities)
      Therefore, when God does an act, God will not do it freely. (8, 9)
      Therefore, an omniscient god cannot have free will. (1, 10)

      July 25, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  13. azlib

    When a crazed man builds a bomb out of fertilizer and hits a building killing hundreds the gov puts out new restrictions on whom can purchase and how much nitrates to keep it happening again. But when nut cases shoot at presidents (Regan), congress people (Gaby), children (Columbine), college students (Va Tech) and massacre innocent people... well they all seem to whistle and do NOTHING. Why in the world do we allow 100 round clips on military assault rifles to be sold over the counter here. Pandering to the hill billy right wing whacko's...

    July 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  14. fay

    And people say "Government is Broken"????


    Every supposed "Christian" is schooling and creating mass suicides and murders of their own by the ignorance of judgement given everyday of our young people because of how they look, think, feel, Love...etc

    July 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  15. JT

    We want to know why, but perhaps the secret to life is to be content not knowing. Life is short and our distinctively human response to tragedy should be to simply love. Blessings and love to all affected by this tragedy.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  16. Chad

    So many comments to the effect "Well, if God is real, this wouldnt have happened"

    dont understand that.. none of those people have read the bible to know that God IS real, and God DOES allow tragedy because that's what WE choose?

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

      Did god write the bible?

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

      god is real to you – not to me.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  17. Craboo

    You do understand if the bible was first revealed today the library would put it in the fiction section.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  18. TR6

    "The Lord has made all for Himself, yes even the wicked for the day of doom." Proverbs 16:4 (Romans 9:6-24, Psalms 92:5-7)

    "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7)

    And the LORD said unto him, "Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the LORD?" Exodus 4:11 (KJV),

    July 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Randy S

      There is no god. The universe unfolds just as it would if there were no god. Everything is material. Why make up excuses for your invisible god? The simplest explination is usually the correct one. The answer to why would an all good all powerful god allow this to happen– is that god is a figment of your imagination. Let's get away from ancient supersition and try to focus on living in the here and now. Let's just help our fellow human beings and to be kind to one another.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  19. Everyone here is an idiot

    For all you atheist fools, and for all you religiously affiliated fools, answer me this. For the atheists, you believe in science no? The cause and effect law sound familiar? Well then, who or what created the first atom in order for the big bang to begin? Can't answer hmm. For the religious affiliated ones, you all believe in science as well? If not, that your creator created everything, it wasn't by chance? Then who or what created Jehovah/Allah/Yaheweh/God? If neither of you can answer, then both parties have no merit over the other. Atheist can't tell me the bible is a book of fairy tales when they themselves cannot answer a fundemental question of their own, neither can they view themselves as better then religious ones. Religious ones cannot tell me the bible is real when they cannot answer there own fundemental questions, neither can they claim atheists are foolish or ignorant as well. Good day fools.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      An athiests response to
      "The cause and effect law sound familiar? Well then, who or what created the first atom in order for the big bang to begin? Can't answer hmm"

      I don't know. But if you claim god did it, you then have to answer who created god.

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

      "It is better to be thought a fool, then to open ones mouth and remove all doubt." You, sir, have epically failed in this respect, as you have clearly just achieved both.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • elopez

      Actually, the Big Bang is not theorized to have begun with an atom, but with a singularity. And there are many contending theories as to what could have caused this, like meeting branes or the contraction of another universe. You see, if you're gonna try to make a smart ass comment, you should at least know what you're talking about.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Craboo

      You idiot!!! We know the atom is made up of smaller partials and are currently using a collider to learn what the building blocks are. So we do know what created the atom. PS: Not god.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Bambi

      Why you have to be so angry? Call people names just because you can't figure it out either. What's YOUR big answer to it all? Where you think we all came from?

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

      Man is currently working on the whole first particle thing. Ever hear of the Higgs Boson? Well we've come a long way and at least we can work towards proving how things ACTUALLY happened, not listen to the same fables and stories from a book written almost 2000 years ago by a bunch of uneducated gullible men.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Don

      So why did someone/something have to "create" God. Isn't it possible that God has always existed and our minds simply cannot comprehend "infinity". (i.e., something/someone that neither has a beginning or ending?)

      July 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Dean

      Lack of knowledge on your part does not equate to a lack of knowledge on our part. I could explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you. A word to the wise (and you)....."It is better to be quiet and be thought a fool that to open your mouth and remove all doubt".

      July 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  20. Steven

    I am disgusted with CNN for even posing a question like that. Who are you to ask where he was? Man has the right to their own free will and his plan for his people is higher than anyone can ever understand. Faith. I am disgusted with what has happened, but this is not a question of religion.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      A question in hinduism, ignorance regarding hinduism, fabrication called religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:29 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.