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. elopez

    It's funny that we humans go over things that have been discussed ad-nauseaum for millenia. These things should be solved by now, but cultural inertia of this magnitud sure does take a while to end. Evidence of God's nonexistance?

    "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 6:14 pm |
    • Eric

      I read something once, and I apologize for not being able to directly quote. However, the verse goes "How would you expect God to appear before all mankind that would convince all mankind that the creator stands before you? Everyone has their own image of the divine and if God did not appear before them as that image then it wasn't truly God. Yet know this, God appears before you each and every day. Simply open your eyes and view all the wonders of what is before you now, then and what will come. God is all that there is. The 'something' and the 'nothing'."

      July 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  2. panda92

    It seems silly to me to blame such a tragedy on God, Satan, or any other being other than the shooter himself. Perhaps people do so because they want someone to blame other than a human being like themselves, because it hits too close to home. However, as a country we must look at the facts. The fact is, a man walked into a theater with several weapons, discharged them, and killed 12 people. Whether you believe in God or not, those are the facts that can't be denied. It also seems silly to blame the problems of society on a lack of religion. Personally, I do not believe in God or Satan or any other type of religious figure. I am a good person that knows the difference between right and wrong, because my parents brought me up that way (my parents are not religious, either). We do not need a religion or God to show us the difference between right and wrong; and those that do believe are welcome to their worship. Taking the element of religion out of the schools and government is a separation of church and state – which gives everyone (believers and non-believers) the ability to practice their beliefs safely.

    The tragedy in Colorado had nothing to do with God. It happened as a result of one man, and as a result of the decisions he made as a free human being. We don't all make good choices, and that will be the truth whether religion exists or does not.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • ensense

      Tell that to Communist News Network.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Bill

      The people of this country have asked God to stay out of our Government, our schools, and if it continues, our day to day lives. He is a loving God who does as we ask. Any time we are in deep trouble or our lives are in danger, without thinking most ask God to intervene. We seem to think he is there for our apparent disposal, then after its done, no promises to him are kept and again God is pushed aside. So if everyone is wondering why God didn't intervene, just remember we as a people have asked him not to. It isn't his choice, he gave that decision to us.

      Remember, there is no such thing as a non-believer in the fox-hole.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  3. Stig

    10,000 children will die today because they don't have clean water. 10,000 children will die tomorrow from the same thing. 10,000 more will die every day after that. Why would we expect a god to do something to save 12 people in a theater in Colorado? There is no god.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Craboo

      The sad thing is that the money we spend on military in one year could end all of that.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  4. steve

    hahahaha, the mythical believer christians, like the taliban, trying to push their mythical beliefs on the rest of us.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • ensense

      Rest easy on the bong, no body is pushing you to believe.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  5. Tony

    Noah had to build the Ark for 120 yrs before the rains. People had all of this time to repent. the world as a whole has become an evil place. not just the U.S. Although I think we lead the way. This includes atheists, Catholics (of which I am), muslums, and any other religion or group. there is not a place on this planet that people have not turned from God. all in the last 100 yrs. In ways never seen before according to history books. All religions are less religous. Less reverence to God.
    one thing the vast majority believe is an uneasiness in their being. Something is not right. something is missing.... as we have less to do with God in our every day lives.
    Also a feeling like something big is about to happen. Collapse in economy, war or natural diaster. Most feel this...
    get ready for rain, floods, quakes, volcanos, wars............. God is about to correct us all. We were given the freedom to do God s will and we decided to focus on ourselves and our happiness. Now we are stuck with leaders that focus on what's best for themselves. Don't kid yourself. Also with business leaders that are worth billions. Its not trickling down. Mega greed.

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

      @Tony – And this is how your god "corrects" things? Wait thousands of years until people really doubt his existence because he offers no proof of it and then take it out on the generation who happens to be alive at the time he decides to get really mad about it? Why take it out on just them? What about all the people before who didn't follow directions from an old book? And what's his big punishment–death? That happens to everyone anyway.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  6. TIM C

    OCCAM'S RAZOR= There is no god. A single, crazy nutcase commited an act of evil and incomprehensible violence. God was not there to prevent it because there is no god. God was not there to allow it for some higher purpose because there is no god. DOESNT GET ANY SIMPLER THAN THAT.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  7. sybaris

    Religion and belief in any god is a filthy disgusting disease of the mind

    July 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  8. Woody

    Maybe god went to China with all the athiest and your jobs because god got tired of everyone not dealing with reality in America !

    July 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  9. Ash

    If there was God, lot of people in Africa didn't have to die from hunger every day and survived ones rely eating mud while millionaires dump tons of fresh food every day from their castle.

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

      So you put the blame on God when millions of people care about what "celebs" wear and do?

      Atheists don't know much about this "reality" they boast so much about.

      Less people care.Some atheists are just to hateful and ignorant to see it.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  10. Johnny HIck Wiseau

    Why is this a news story on CNN?

    "Ermagherd, ware iz GAWD?!"

    I am so happy I am not actually paying money for this.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  11. Jenna

    Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill said on his Facebook page "The horrific mass murder in Colorado reminds us to never lose sight of biblical concepts like sin, depravity, and evil. Without them there is no way to make sense of what is senseless." I am pretty sure he has written some articles for CNN he would be a good person to answer some of these tough questions...

    July 25, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • sybaris


      If what that guy was saying is true then non-christian countries and regions should be in total chaos and that is simply not the case.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      Comments like this are why men tell women to get back in the kitchen.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  12. sunpacific

    It's interesting reading what a band of Christians think of a non-Christian: though there are millions of visionary individuals who changed the world in a positive way, they should not be praised since they didn't join your club of Christianity. Go on praising one another for buying a ticket to "heaven" by accepting JC as your Lord and Savior. Funny thing about your dogma is that even a rapist and thief, or in this case a mad man who shot innocent women and children in a movie hall, can make it to "heaven" as long as he "becomes one of you." Everyone else: millions of Chinese, millions of Indians, visionaries like Buffet, Jobs, Watson, Crick, Feynman, Sagan, etc. will all rot in hell for all eternity since they have not joined your religion. So what if Buffet gives 83% of his wealth away? He can't go to heaven but the child molester can- 'cause he 'ccepted our lourd and savior. One would be tempted to not even accept such a god in that case but, it's irrelevant anyway: there is no god, your bible was written by a bunch of people just like every other religious text was, and in the end we need to take responsibility for our morality. God was not at Aurora massacre because god is like santa claus: he doesn’t exist.

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

      anyone, even the most evil person that ever existed, can get to heaven by accepting JC as their Lord and Savior.

      That's very good news!!

      If we had to earn our way in, not one of us would make it.

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

      Which bible did you get your carp from? (looks like your own to me) Christianity professes that you love thy neighbor as thy self. If you truly believe ( Now don't go crazy with the word, I know people like you do) in Christ then you will prefer to kill your self then harm some body else. If you have commit-ed a crime and you accept Christ later in your life then you will truly repent and feel remorse for all the bad you have done. that in it self is punishment enough.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  13. goo

    Where was God? There in Aurora.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  14. Mantchi

    When something bad happens people tend to ask "Where was God?". But almost nobody asks "Where have I been?/Where have we been?".
    God never leaves anybody. But it is people who leave God.
    When people go far away from God, they become nearer to satan, consciously or not.
    God saves people many times from harm or prevents disasters or give people the chance to prevent disasters. But sometimes God has to permit suffering, because of people, who keep doing bad things without repenting them. God's mercy is bigger than his justice. But whoever refuses to go through his mercy will have to go through justice sooner or later.
    And people sometimes need a wake up call too.
    Only people who liberately and consciously decided against God go to hell. Everybody else doesn't go to hell.
    Before we ask "Where was God?" or "Where is God" we should better halt a moment and ask ourself "Where am I? Is God my father and friend? Or is God someone distant to me? Do I talk (pray) to him regularly like I would with a very good friend, or do I talk (pray) to him like he is a distant relative, or do I talk (pray) to him at all?"
    God is our father and God is good. When we really hold on to him, we are safe and always will be, one way or another. Death itself is not a tragedy, it is just a passing and a transition. But of course death is tragic for those who are left behind. I've experienced that myself. But we have to accept God's will and let the loved ones go.
    The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
    Many of the deceased protected other people and died as real martyrs. In my opinion they have a special place in heaven.
    I also think that God intervened and made the gun jam through a technical failure.
    May the deceased rest in God's peace and may God give all people who are related with this tragedy strength, consolation and hope. And may they unite their pain and suffering with the pain and suffering of Christ.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Oh Really?

      Thanks god for giving AIDS to all those children in Africa and letting all of these innocent people die. What a great god you are and you truly deserve our worship.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • JWT

      What a pile of bs.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • believer

      Oh Really – You can thank the Prince of Darkness who rules this world until Christ's return. You really should read up on what's what.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  15. austin

    To all of you people out there claiming there is no GOD, I do have a news for you. There is a GOD, alive and he is still very much interested in the affairs of men and rules it too. If you claim there is no GOD, It makes no difference at all because, you are likened to the insects out there somewhere, saying there is no president in America. Does that truly means there is no president here in America? Absolutely, there is a President out here in America and he is very much interested in the ruling affairs of the nation. Regardless of your stand, you are nothing but a PENCIL in the hand of your maker and only HIM (GOD) has the final say about the out come of the story HIS writing, and that is why it is called history which really means, HIS-STORY. Be you a believer in GOD or an atheist, you still can not change GOD. He is who He is. He alone makes kings reign and princes rule. For the fact that a maniac goes on a mass shooting spree does not warrant you questioning the existence of GOD or His where about. He gave humans free will. Just like you are licensed to drive carefully without causing accident or any bodily injury to other road users of which if you do cause any harm or damage to another, there will be consequences for it, so also it is with GOD to humans. In a situation whereby you caused an accident while driving, you will be punished for it. However, have you or anyone ever question the existence of the government in the land when an accident happens? If not, why question God's existence over a senseless act of a maniac? Instead of questioning GOD's existence, why not call on the legislative arm of your government to head back to the drawing board with their heads on their shoulders and think of a better ways of fostering good governance and healthy, maniac free society and do things differently and rightly. Just like Abraham Lincoln once said and I quote" It is not “can any of us imagine better?” but, “can we all do better?” The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. The focus should now be, how to forge the way FORWARD for the nation. Long live the U S of A.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Oh Really?

      Nice of God to come and tell you all this stuff. You should have recorded your encounter with him. Oh thats right you just made all this ridiculous and preposterous information up based of what some guy in a robe told you.

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

      Best defense of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, evar!

      July 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Obama comes on TV. There is independent, physical proof he exists. Even the insects don't deny that. Just ask the mosquito that drinks his blood.

      Arguing that God exists because He exists is neither compelling nor interesting.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Polite Atheist

      I agree with you that questioning the existence of God because of a tragic event is silly. My lack of belief in a God (and belief in a US president) has nothing to do with the existence of evil. It’s simply a belief or lack thereof. I couldn't change it if I wanted to, no more than you could begin believing in the existence of invisible elephants. If there is a god and he wants me to believe in him, then I suppose I would. I am confused on how I could be punished for something that in many ways is out of my control.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  16. Faith in God

    Is is pathethic, how this journalist could ask such a pathethic question. HAve you seen the world you live in, it is so sad, If it were for God he would have everyone beleive in him. He does give us the option to Beleive or to not Believe. To the Man or woman who asked this, Reconconsider job options, you suck.

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

      reconconsidre hihg skool inglish

      July 25, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Is our children learning?

      Is it just me or are xians all one taco shy of a combo plate? Illiteracy must be a prerequisite for heaven.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  17. Woody

    Fact is religion is for those that are too lazy to prepare for and deal with reality . Sort of like what druggies and alcoholics do . Its easy to blame it all on something that does not exist and its easy to talk to our own minds because we can always answer our questions back with what we actually want to here .

    July 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  18. 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. And when you all do rebuttal, please d so wih a clear concise answer. instead of going on to either insult me, try to impose your beliefs on me, or just use a foolish argument thatjust sums up to "it is because it is"

    July 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      How often do you break out this ridiculous excuse for a paragraph? I get the feeling today's not the first time you've copy/pasted it into a comment box and clicked the "Post" button.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Why does an athiest have to know the answer to "where did matter come from" to be not an idiot? The athiest doesn't know. There's lots of things we don't know. So? Why does that make him an idiot?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Donnie

      I don't think you know what you're talking about... Atheists don't base beliefs on things for which there is no empirical evidence. Just because we haven't figured something out, doesn't mean the default stance is god.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • 32

      To answer you question as to who created God, read Isaiah 43:10

      July 25, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • 32

      To answer your question as to who created God, read Isaiah 43:10

      July 25, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  19. cinqo

    has nothing to do with God. do your research on the history of mathematicians. the cinema hitler is the son of a mathematician. ted kaczinski, or the unabomber was a mathematician, and my own crazy brother ( my former brother) also mathematician. believe me! i know how most mathematicians think.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  20. mountainmama82

    The answer is that God is evil . He loves this stuff. He isn't going to help or prevent it. So get over it .

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

      That's just plain nonsense!!!!!

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

      The irony is almost painful

      July 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Cyle

      Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and CREATE EVIL: I the LORD do all these.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:17 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.