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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:

Lenny
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.

Kyle
"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:

Harleyxx
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. Mike

    God does not exist. Get over it you fools.

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

      It's pretty interesting to see someone posting "Smarter-than-thou" as opposed to "holier-than-thou". They both are the desire of the poster to feel superior to others – even though they are anonymous.

      Frankly, I don't get the difference between the two.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  2. Mike, Albany

    If this is God's will, then there is no need for anyone to accept responsibility for anything. Climate change? God's will! 9/11? God's will. Columbine and Aurora? God's will! Thinking like this is merely a way to recuse ourselves of the inherent responsibility. We should perform good acts and serve others because it's the right thing to do and not because there is some promise of reward at the end of our lives. Ultimately, WE are responsible for all of our decisions and all of our actions. If we choose to live like barbarians and kill each other, steal from each other, deprive each other of precious resources, and mistreat the planet, then we are sowing the seeds of our own destruction, and you can bet that it will be on us and not "God's will".

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

      I've often said the same thing – that people use the phrase "God's Will" to blame god for either problems caused by themselves, others, or nature.

      I always tell the "God's will" types:

      It's not "God's" will. It's yours. Take responsibility for it.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  3. read the posts and it easy to see

    WOW we tell God in every way to stay out and when He does what do we do? We cry out where are you? What foolish people we are.

    For those who would like to claim there is no God, I hope things change for you but if they do not good luck with that thought when you stand in front of Him. My question is do you think you will have the guts to stick to your no God concept then?

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

      You're insane.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • JWT

      No god now or ever – I will never have to stand before it,.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Oops

      Simple answer: Yes

      If god wanted to be known, there are better ways than a game of 5,000 year telephone through a book and creepy people hassling me at the door. One way comes to mind immediately, saying something from the sky, or say.... doing something scientifically impossible (like making it rain frogs, that seems like part of his MO).

      The real question is, how red are you going to be if a) I make it into heaven alongside with you even though I lived life as an atheist or b) the god we both stand before is allah, or brahaman?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Donnie

      Tell you what, as soon as you can supply me with empirical evidence as to the existence of this god you speak of, I will change my position.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • my question to you

      @oops
      Why would I be red faced when I would say I lived a great and blessed life, full of joy and blessings. Do some tought things happen to me? Sure, but they all seem to work out for God's glory. If you where able to get into Heaven then I would be happy for you, not red faced

      July 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • my question to you

      @mike no just blessed

      July 25, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Oops

      @Question

      It was just an observation. A lot of christians, well believers in general, out there take pride in being better than the heretics and they'll go to heaven when everyone else won't. They do exercise after exercise in futility, wasting valuable moments of life in church, or praying and yet we both end up in the same place.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • my question to you

      @oops
      If we do end up in the same place then I would be very happy for us both, but what if the Bible is right and we don't is it worth it?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Oops

      @Question

      Sure, I'm having a great life so far. As far as it being right, considering you and I have the same chance of being right or wrong, the same question applies to you.

      If the one that is right means I go to eternal damnation and burn, well, I'm not terribly sure I would want to be with a god who allows that to happen, that's just me though. To live a life "just in case" is a horrible way to live AND I don't think god would be thrown anyways.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  4. Everyone is an idiot

    Oh really? you just proved my point once again of how humanity is divided over things that are foolish.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  5. Your Friend

    Father forgive Dan Gilgoff, for he knows not what he does.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  6. Kyle

    I'm not the Kyle from the article, but we obviously think alike.

    God isn't part of the equation. Stop with the generalizations and your personal interpretations of what your imaginary ruler is thinking.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • read the posts and it easy to see

      my you try to sound brave and big for such a little person, if He is imaginary as you claim why do you get so upset?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  7. Tommyr

    There are no Gods. When you can prove it to me with viable, tangible evidence I'll listen. Good luck with that.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Everyone is an idiot

      When you can prove to me with undeniable un alienable proofthat a god does not exist, we'll talk. I don't go either way, but now you're just imposing your beliefs on others like the other religious fools

      July 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Bobby

      Amen to that!! HAHA

      July 25, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • easy enough

      Tommy this is easy, take your question and ask God every day to prove himself to you. See how that works out for you

      July 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Donnie

      Everyone is an idiot: It is up to the person making the claim to provide proof to the existence of god. Or would you like to prove to me that unicorns or lepricauns aren't real?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Donnie

      @easy enough: Is that like the whole 'tell a lie so many times that you start to believe it' concept?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • my question to you

      @Donnie
      No it is not convincing yourself, it asking God to prove himself to you? If you have the guts do it for a month see what happens

      July 25, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  8. sunpacific

    "The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife
    that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."
    – James Madison

    "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.
    This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well
    as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose."
    – Thomas Jefferson

    "Christianity neither is, nor ever
    was, a part of the Common Law."
    – Thomas Jefferson

    July 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • TomPaine

      Thanks for the rebuttal to all those who keep insisting that America was founded as a Christian nation. There are lots of other similar quotes from those and other founders.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  9. CalypsoAmnell

    If your god is to be praised and thanked for protecting the survivors of this massacre, then your god can also be blamed for failing to protect the others. On one hand you will say that "God" does not intervene in these tragedies, and on the other hand you will thank "Him" for saving the survivors. You cannot have it both ways.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • IvanLibya

      Exactly! Thank you for being one of the few to make that connection also!

      July 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • solex

      Sure they can – they call it "God's Will"

      It is the escape clause that all religous people use when something bad happens:

      "God works in mysterious ways"
      "God's Will"

      It is simply their way of blaming God without actually blaming God.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • my question to you

      Let us say for argument sake that I am correct there is a God and He does have a place that we call Heaven. So if God calls people of His to Heaven how is this a bad thing? Would you be mad at someone who won the lottery, then why be mad when they go to some place a million times better?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  10. solex

    One of my favorite comics is "The far side". I was gifted with a desktop calendar where you tear away each day as the year progresses. One of the comics was so funny I kept it.

    It shows a car that has been wrecked into a telephone pole with the obviosuly dead occupant hanging half out of the car. In the clouds above there is a drawing of god holding a video game controller and the caption simply read:

    "Sh1t".

    July 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  11. Woody

    Nowhere to be found never was and never will be, but we have a man written book with a lot of fiction and people having dreams and putting those dreams in a book . Religion is about as 2000 years ago as you can get when people did not know what an earthquake or a shooting star was !

    July 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • my question to you

      So what do you do with the books other then the Bible that prove Jesus did these things. All of these writers are lying also?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  12. solex

    One of my favorite comics is "The far side". I was gifted with a desktop calendar where you tear away each day as the year progresses. One of the comics was so funny I kept it.

    It shows a car that has been wrecked into a telephone pole with the obviosuly dead occupant hanging half out of the car. In the clouds aboce there is a drawing of god holding a video game controller and the caption simply read:

    "Sh1t".

    July 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  13. wow

    another great topic on something CNN doesnt believe in.......but hey its liberal atheist cnn...what do u expect?

    July 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  14. Lydia de la garza

    read the bible your will find the answer to your questions.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • CKW1221

      amen.

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

      @Lydia de la garza

      You said, "read the bible your will find the answer to your questions."
      I did. I'm an atheist because of it. So, I guess you are correct, it did answer my question.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      You obviously have poor reading comprehension if you believe that...

      July 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • my question to you

      @LinCa
      read again and when you finish check out the other writings that back it up. From non-Christians, then finally ask yourself why?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • LinCA

      @my question to you

      You said, "read again and when you finish check out the other writings that back it up. From non-Christians, then finally ask yourself why?"
      I reviewed various writings and find the support for any god unconvincing. The christian god is downright ridiculous. Even if it existed, it wouldn't be a creature that I'd worship.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  15. Justin

    For all those who claim that a lack of faith in our schools, or government ect. caused this...shame on u. It was the act of a single individual being random...that randomness is what makes our species great and what makes it terrible at the same time...For those who believe god had anything to do with this-lets be real, if god did than god is not fit for our faith.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  16. spaz

    God is where he/she always is – in the minds of the the feeble.

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

      Actually, he was in the same place He was when His Son was nailed to a cross, when 9/11 happened, Columbine...He was there. It might not feel like it, but He was there. Hey, He didn't give SOME of us a free will, he gave ALL of us one. What we do with it is another story. Don't blame God. Blame a godless individual who made terrible choices.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  17. God

    Opps.... I was in the next theater over.... my bad.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  18. J.T. Marsh

    Where is he when every bad happends. Or every good.. I always thought that god set things in motion from day seven. Turned the switch on. He knew when the one brother killed the other, Knew what his son would face, the cancer in the little girl, but not just the bad also knew when a baby was born or that first laugh. Where was he? Where he always is with the angels greeting the people at the gates. No more pain.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  19. Everyone 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. Please, someone, answer this instead of going on with your foolish beliefs. Edit: I don't want all your idiotic insults when you all cannot reasonably answer my questions without going off into, "herp a derp, doesn't know what he's talking about" or "religion is stupid" or "atheism is for those in hell". Give a straightforward answer, or you just look the fool. Meaningless chatter in 3 2 1

    July 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Oh Really?

      So what are you then big shot? We don't have to answer any of these absurd unanswerable questions.

      July 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      I've never bumped into a militant agnostic before. You're one crazy dude.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • jcabre5560

      http://xkcd.com/774/
      You sir ( or madam) have asked a great question on the origin of life, however, that question does not pertain to atheism perse. Atheism is the denial of supernatural claims. Atheists do not claim to have the answer to the origin of life, however all the evidence points to the big bang. The reason science exists is to try and find the answer, and the reason religion exists is to give you an answer, that may or may not be correct.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • No, you are an idiot

      Just because we don't have all the scientific answers to our origins doesn't automatically default into some cloud faerie "poofed" us into existence. Nor does it mean athiests are at some disadvantage regarding defending their lack of belief. That you misunderstand the definition of atheism is your problem, not ours (atheists). Atheists, when asked if they believe in god(s) would say no, denoting a lack of belief, no belief, nada, zip, zilch, a void of belief, ZERO belief. That is not a belief. If you multiply their belief by ZERO, what do you get? ZERO. Nothingness... Invest in a dictionary. It might make you look like less of an idiot.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • My phone can beat up your phone

      God can too make a rock so big he can't pick it up. And then he will proceed to lift it anyway.

      And, it's "'...THEIR own fundamental quest...", Einstein.

      (Don't grammar Bolsheviks just annoy the hell out of you? Especially when they're right.)

      July 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • TomPaine

      @jcabre5560 – Well said.
      @Everyone is an idiot – Atheists don't claim to know how everything started, they just (by definition) don't find any reason to believe a god was involved.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Excuse me, but speak for yourself

      I happen to be an imbecile, thank you. Idiot, indeed! Hummmph!

      July 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  20. God

    Oh I was in the next theater over... my bad.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • TomPaine

      @jcabre5560 – Well said.
      @Everyone is an idiot – Atheists don't claim to know how everything started, they just (by definition) don't find any reason to believe a god was involved.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
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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.