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. JoJo

    Jesse R
    Liberals have made it impossible for God to be anywhere during the upbringing of a child

    This is one of the most disturbing comments made. Blaming liberals for not having God in their child's life. Buddy, you can be a parent and take your child to church and you can be a parent and have God important in your home.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  2. steve

    Where was God?
    He was like everyone else. Fighting the crowds and the lines to get a ticket for the movie!

    July 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  3. PAUL



    July 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  4. Crystal

    At times like this we need to lean on God for support. God watched his own son die on the cross. Evil = sin and its all around, the world has turned into that, and its God who is crying.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • erick

      you're delusional to say the least.

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

      The thing he allegedly created doesn't work right, in other words. It's his own fault.

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

      While this is still fresh, Paris Continues To Burn!!


      July 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • sybaris

      Oh stop. Your god didn't watch his own son die on a cross. If this Jesus fellow was who he said he was then he never died. Flesh and blood never meant anything to him and this "sacrifice" is just a human concept. if your heaven is so important then your body shouldn't matter to you either.

      Christianity, such a hypocrisy

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

      If you believe in the holy trinity then it wasnt god who watched his son (btw I like how a supposed all powerful being has a gender) die it was god who watched a copy of himself die, which is really weird.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  5. Sandra

    . People never bother to ask where was God when something marvelous happens.Why is God suddenly the scapegoat?
    I resent that this question is asked only when something horrific happens.
    I would suggest God was with the young man who jumped in front of his girlfriend and her brother and prompted him to do so. God was there when the gun jammed and 24 were not found dead .
    God was there when the murderer warned the police about his booby trapped apartment. God was there when his parents said they supported him , in spite of what he did.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • yeahalright

      "People never bother to ask where was God when something marvelous happens."

      Are you kidding me? You have to be joking. Every freakin politician has to mention god in every speech ("god bless america"), "miracles" are constantly being praised on the news, like when some improbably pregnancy happens, and I can't even watch a game without some athlete has to "give all the praise to jesus" when he hits a homerun or scores a touchdown. Christians are ALWAYS giving god all the credit and NEVER give him the blame. He must have the most fragile sense of self-confidence imaginable. He's like the kid who needs a trophy just for showing up.

      As for the rest of your post, it sounds like god was late. Imagine if he showed up to the tragedy on time or early. Well, gosh, he could've prevented it!

      But he wasn't late. He doesn't exist.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • sybaris

      "God was with the young man who jumped in front of his girlfriend"

      So for some reason your god wasn't there to make everybody jump in front of everybody else

      "God was there when the gun jammed and 24 were not found dead"

      So your god didn't jam the other gun

      "God was there when the murderer warned the police about his booby trapped apartment. "

      So your god wasn't there when the murderer could have said, "Everybody leave the theater or I'm gonna kill you!"

      "God was there when his parents said they supported him , in spite of what he did."

      No, that's just good parenting

      YOU really need to take some sort of course on critical thinking. All you have done is make up fantastical excuses that are void of any truth.

      What you need to ask yourself is how you would phrase you answers if the same incident had happened in say India and you were born and raised there following the Hindu religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  6. sangerdude

    As much as it pains me to say it, compared to what is happening every second of every day all over the globe with horrific death, murder, torture, starvation etc .... this was a mercy killing.

    There is no GOD that would claim total love us and still allow such carnage to happen to our innocents. Take ownership of your actions and avoid making excuses for these monsters.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  7. PAUL



    July 25, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  8. Mari

    It is a good question because when tragedy strikes you begin to deeply question what you believe. I can understand easily this kind of evil. It is very obvious evil works in this case. An evil man doing evil things. But what is even harder is to understand evil coming from mother nature itself. Tragedies due to natural disasters and to the fragile nature of the human being. I lost a daughter in my womb and I asked myself how God allowed my daughter to die like that when she was about to be born. The more I have searched for an answer I can't find it. Then this is what Faith is about. I don't know why and will never know but I choose to believe. I believe that God has a higher plan and we will know about it when we get there.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • yeahalright

      I'm sorry for your loss.

      His plan doesn't make sense because there is no plan. There is no god.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  9. Wesley

    God was in the same place He was when they were unjustly crucifying His Son, Jesus, for humanity's sins.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  10. cinqo

    all the comments invoking God: you are barking at the wrong tree ( for the lack of a better phrase). if you approach this criminal act with a knowledge of history, specifically the history of mathematicians, i'm sure you'll find the answer. if you recall, the cinema killer is the son of a mathematician. and i immediately knew why. if you remember ted kaczinski, the mathematician better known as the unabomber. if you do your research and read about the history of mathematicians, you'll conclude that there is "a criminal element" to mathematicians. in addition, my own brother ( my former brother) is a mathematician. my brother was enrolled in the engineering program in the 1980's, but he couldn't finish the program and switched to something easier:mathematics. i was living with my brother in the 1980's and he was going crazy when he discovered he wasn't cut out to be an engineer, and a later did something stupid and got a felony on his record and tried to keep it a secret from aquaintances and friends. having lived with a mathematician, i can attest to what math can do to a person if they are not equipped to handle it. in the 1990's i.enrolled in an engineering school, and i was one semestet away from graduation, and my crazy mathematician brother meddled in my personal affairs with the school officials to prevent me from getting an engineering degree, just because he was a failure when he tried to get an engineering degree. i can tell you many crazy things my mathematician brorher did, but this is not the arena to do it. trust me, i know how many of these mathematicians think. note: i said "most".

    July 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  11. H. Singh

    Hmmmm........Well, discussing falsehood one will gain falsehood. Concept of God has been understated in Western world....that's why people quarell a lot about CONFUSION on God. Yes it is God's will(One of the reason).....But how can we sum up the scenario with one reason? Let's see the following example:

    Take two torches....One is brighter than the other and it's light travel further. Following would be the reasons :
    1. It has more power(Voltage) or new batteries
    2. It's mirror is more concave
    3. It got clean and brand-new reflecting mirror
    4. It's brand is good
    5. The bulb being used is advanced tech. May be gas-discharge bulb

    Did I sum up this small event in one reason? Then how could we sum up the big events in one or two reason that are out our understanding. The shooter was crazy, out of his own control. The sufferers couldn't predict it. I stand by those sufferes and criticize this event. All we can do is react, defend or attack. Or make laws and build more protection. This reminds us how delicate and uncertain is human life. We are born without our permission and die without our consent. Who is the manager of this process.

    We know the fault of the Crazy Shooter, but what was the fault of sufferes?? . Atheists have already given up, they say it is not the God's work. If the ground water level is 100ft you will have to dig 100ft. Atheist have dug upto 4ft and declared no water. Religious people are trying and saying 'will of god' but can't elaborate or explain it. For the true reason one will need to have more than human understanding. Human are fighting without understanding. I'm not offending anybody...I'm part of human life & I'll also die someday or other. Great philosphers like Socrates researched their life and came up with answer "I know nothing". & I see many philospher out here claiming that they know every thing just with ONE REASON!!

    July 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  12. Ol' Yeller

    What is all this stuff about taking God off the money (I see 'In God We Trust' on this one dollar bill here- My grandpappy didn't because that just started happening in 1952), and God out of our schools, and courthouses, etc...
    Americans have the freedom to go to the Church of their choice. They have the right to drop down and Tebow anytime they wish. No body kills people in America because of the Church they attend. You people have freedom of religion and to worship like no other country in the world.
    The real issue is that you are not content with that. You want each and every one of us to go to Church... and not just any Church, but your Church, because yours, of course is better, or more right, or the path to Heaven or whatever else your faith leads you to believe. And the people saying if this shooter had God or religion in his life he could have worked through this...
    Really? No.... Really!?!? How soon we like to forget the murders and crimes committed in the name of the Church (pick one)... I guess the lady who drowned her 5 kids in TX because God told her to just wasn't going to the right Church. Get real... worship where you wish, when you wish, however you wish... but stop with the Holier than thou crap... it is so old and I believe a big part of the reason people turn away from religion.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • LT

      People just need to learn to accept each other for the way they are and what he or she believes. I have religious tolerance but find it's never reciprocated for me. I an a nonbeliever and everytime someone asks me about my beliefs, I tell them the truth and they get mad at me for not believing in their 'god' and not going to church on a regular basis. I think what this young man did was snap and he needs to be punished for his crimes. Snapping does not give someone a reason to kill, if in fact that's what happened. He will undergo a series of psychiatric tests to determine his mental status and if he is indeed crazy. I think god had nothing to do with it because in my mind, he doesn't exist. BUT, I respect the ones who do believe in god or other deities because this is how it should be. Not about condemnation of how ones beliefs are regardless of they are aligned with others or not.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  13. Fatima Ronquillo

    fuk off

    July 25, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • H. Singh


      July 25, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  14. Everyone is an idiot

    t3chn0ph0b3 and Reality, I don't want bs excuses or avoiding the question, yes atheism dos require belief, belief your way is right, belief that science is the way, saying it requires a lack of belief would be a lie. Calling my paragraph silly undermines your entire rebuttal t3chn, and reality, give a straightforward answer, I know of the theories surrounding the events after the big bang, but unless you can give me a straightforward answer of how it began, and who or what created it, your point is no more better then if a religious one were to say "it is because it is". Thats bsically your argument,unless I'm mistaken?

    July 25, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • plaster city

      athiesm does not require a belief in science. Athiesm is a lack of belief in god.

      Rational people, however, can be convinced of things through the scientific method, which takes a hypothesis and tests it to the point where, if it stands up, it becomes a respected theory. However, as soon a someone proves it wrong, we're off looking for a better hypothesis.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Atheism is defined by a LACK of belief. Get a dictionary.

      Understanding scientific principles does not require belief. Read a physics book.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Lydia de la garza

      I totally agree with Harleyxx/ Read 2 of timothy 3:1-5. Bible has the answer of all your questions

      July 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  15. Joan Benton

    CNN asks..."Do you feel such tragedies are evidence of a godless universe?" As others have so eloquently stated...
    "tragedies" could not exist in a "godless universe", because in a "godless universe" nothing has meaning or significance. We wouldn't be asking this question because we wouldn't comprehend that this was a tragedy. The fact that EVERY human being grieves at the thought of what happened is evidence alone that we recognize something as broken and not as it was intended to be. This is the scripture's entire message. The redemption of a broken and fallen world.

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

      Well said!

      July 25, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  16. Bugger

    What would our world be like if there were no suffering, people were born but never died, no one ever argued or held ill will, the sacrafice of hard work was unnecessary to acheive life's goals and desires, charity and sharing were unknown concepts as no one would ever be in need, all actions were good and kind and peaceful, the concepts of evil, death, suffering, hatred, greed, and pain were never invented. As I see it, life in such a place would be empty and pointless. Our very existence would hold no meaning as we would strive for nothing. I thank God for the world he has given us and all its flaws.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Understanding a flawed universe doesn't require a God concept.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  17. Dark

    The Aurora shooting could have been a great deal worse than what it was.

    1. Instead of an AR-15 he could have gotten an AK-47 which would have punched through people making the casualty count much higher.

    2. The shooter is very intelligent, if deranged. He knows how to make sophisticated improvised explosive devises. He could have made a version of a Claymore Mine and set it off before shooting instead of smoke/tear gas. In the close confines of the theater virtually all would have been killed.

    These are just two examples of the 'mistakes' the shooter made. Mistakes that saved lives.

    When those mistakes are made by an intelligent person who conducts a well planned out raid I can't help but think there was some form of divine intervention at work.

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

      you're fuken nuts.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      This has got to be the dumbest thing I've heard on here today – and that's saying a LOT.

      So God is all powerful, but all he could do is toss a couple of monkey wrenches into the plans of the shooter? God really wanted to stop it, but he just wasn't quite up to the task? Couldn't have just struck the guy dead the moment he entered the theater door?

      Funny how Gods wrath is no different from random chance.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • jcabre5560

      Huh, I wonder why the "divine intervention" didn't make the shooter sick the night of his planned attacks, made his car break down on the way there, or something that would hav prevented this from happening altogether. I once read somewhere that Christians consider it a sin to not help someone in need, or stop the murder of someone. However, God does this several thousand times a day. Sure some may argue that maybe God has stopped many murders from happening, but I say this to them. If God is all good and all powerful why does he stop people like the shooter?

      July 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  18. Witness

    Jesse R's comment re liberals and God illustrates how "out there" Social Conservatives are. Americans have LOTS of opportunity to worship.

    The shooting is problematic for believers. But so much is. Why does God play hide and seek like He's in witness protection? If He existed He would not have use for so much ambiguity. Why does God vainly demand worship?

    Verily, I tell you this, if God does exist, you don't need your neighbor to dress in robes and wave incense or juggle rattlesnakes to get in touch w/ Him!

    July 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  19. Michael

    Can the President stop bringing up god every time something bad happens? Keep that to yourself, your a public official and I don't want to hear about it. I don't care if you call your deity Zeus, Odin, Aman-Ra, Set-An, or the Flying Unicorn with Spaghetti in Her Hair, I don't want to hear about it.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  20. Usman

    WHERE WAS GOD?!? Having a beer with Santa, Superman, Vishnu, Eagle Spirit, and Thor.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Gozer sends his apologies for missing happy hour.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:47 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.