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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. Jon

    It's funny how people say we removed God from schools and currency and that's not what the founding fathers wanted. Do they not know history and that the God part of the pledge of allegience and the motto "In God We Trust" on money didn't come about until the 50's? Arguments of "It was God's will" are insensitive to victims and remove accountability for peoples actions.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Foolish Mortal

      You cannot expect irrational people to think logically.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Jon

      You're right, but it still bugs me because facts like these aren't up for discussion. All the God language was put into our country as a response to Soviet Communism. It's funny because I'd be the majority of Americans think "In God We Trust" is our national motto when it's actually "E Pluribus Unum."

      Based on your comment though, I'm the illogical one for expecting idiots to be rational.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Thomas Jefferson

      Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.

      – Me

      July 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • EclecticMuse

      Better yet, the Founding Fathers were mostly Deists.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  2. This message is not 4U ...its AboutU

    I'm completely aware that I'm "just" a being forever learning to control the body I'm currently occupying, how could I ever pretend to know what a god is ...and isn't? If I was not fully aware of the statement I just made ....then I'd be living in a false state of reality and judging everyone based on my false sense of self. I would've created a god from looking in the mirror to uphold my false sense of complete and perfect being on this physical plane and believe myself to be immortal, while denying others the same right. People say they want to find themselves, they should get some "Basic Self Knowledge". everything else is useless without it.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  3. cinqo

    believe me!!! i know about mathematicians. my own crazy (former) brother is mathematician. the cinema kiler of denver is son of a mathematician. when the son of mathematician discovered he wasn't cut out for neuroscience, he turned into a killer. very reminicent of my own crazy brother: when my brother discovered he wasn't cut out to become an engineer, he switched major in the 1980's and at the same time did all sorts of crazy things, such as prevent me from getting an engineering degree, at any cost, because he was ashamed or fearful of what friends and families would say if his younget brother succeeded in engineering and he didn't.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  4. Stephanie C

    Some of us have to believe that there is a divine force out there – that there is some hope. Without it, without that belief then we would feel so lost – empty – hopeless. We need that crutch, that faith. I do not know if God is real for there is no real evidence of it.. but I do know that I love something larger then myself and my world. I love something that I feel brings me comfort in my time of need. I do not know if there is a divine being listening to me everytime I speak to Him but I do know that believing in Him brings me comfort. So regardless of being able to see or touch the evidence of God I believe in the theory of God for it brings my soul peace when I need it the most.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Ottercat

      that is called delusion my friend.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Jon

      Flying Spaghetti Monster!

      July 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • This message is not 4U ...its AboutU

      Yes Stephanie there is a universal power source that you have tapped that others block by ignoring, denying or they are lower beings that do not have desire to evolve (this time). You can call it anything you want, just remember to love everything and you will be OK ...its a higher vibration that is transmitting cosmos-wide and I assume from reading your comment that you have seen it action before .... if so ...good on you.
      Ta Eso'

      July 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  5. Brendan

    Doesn't surprise me that some people like this Pastor Riley believe that a heinous act to be God's will ... the Abrahamic God of the Old Testament thoroughly enjoys murdering it's creations, either by it's own hand, or through the hands of men ... anyone who disagrees with this statement hasn't read Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Exodus or Numbers. Which, is why I a refuse to believe in, and like Christopher Hitchens, moral oppose that God ... you know, the one that dictates the direction of our modern society. Furthermore, I find it quite funny that some Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Immortal Being that supposedly created everything needs to be defended by it's own creations.. ha! Sheeple... it's sad when you realize that most of the people walking around really believe in an invisible man in the sky who's watching your every move... and while some say you have free will, if that's the case, where you will be judged later by a God that not only allows suffering, but inflicts it upon it's creations (again, read the OT, especially the part where he destroys all mankind in a flood), to then send you to eternal torture and punishment if you didn't praise it... hmm.. that's doesn't seem like free will to me.. and I do not want anything to do with that God. If I really stand before that God when I die (which I am not worried about happening), I will ask that narcissistic, vengeful, "loving" God, to apologize to me, and all it's creations, for subjecting us to such atrocities... "But it's not God, it's the Devil." Give me a break. You are all brainwashed. Let's try logic and reason. If your God created EVERYTHING, then it created Lucifer, the Angel that betrayed God, who ultimately became the Devil. God created the Devil. God created everything. God created the concept of evil. Use your brain. Then realize it's all made up stories by man. Then you'll truly have free will. I was a born-again Christian for 20 years. I live a more moral life now than I ever did then, knowing that there's most likely nothing after this, no one to forgive your sins.. so if you do something wrong to your fellow Human, apologize to them. Treat others with kindness. It's the best way for Humanity to advance and fulfill our potential. Work together. Stop trying to explain the actions of God, and some fame lust, greedy, selfish, narcissistic psycho that decided to shoot innocent people. He isn't worth the time.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  6. Fr33d0mhawk

    God does not micromanage the universe and though this tragedy makes for a really sad story, in the big scheme of things, the number of deaths pales in comparison to real disasters. Just last week a TX pickup crash killed 14 people, and before that, the tsunami in Indonesia killed hundreds of thousands of people.

    The other fact about God, if He exists, is that in order for advancement to occur in a system, there must be destruction and creation. The only reason life evolved beyond a single celled organism is through the deaths, and successes of all the lifeforms that came before man. We owe our existence to a star that went supernova about 8 billion years ago and seeded our local solar system with the elements that make complex life possible, so even in spite of the unfathomable devastation of an exploding star, that act of destruction created the opportunity for life. Every animal alive today is here because of the cycles of destruction and creation, through the failure and successes of our forefathers back to the original lifeform.

    If God wanted to punish there would be ways to get the job done much more efficiently that allow an insane person access to assault rifles, like an asteroid or comet impact, super volacanoe eruption. Blaming God, or whatever diety, for what happened in Colorado represents some of the most ignorant conjectures humans are capable of. The mass murder in Colorado is being shamefully as a meal ticket for radicals of every flavor, gun control and anti-gun control advocates, religious radicals, politicians, position stakers of every variety trying to use an extremely rare event as a narrative applicable to all. Its time to get a grip and pay attention to scale and ignore the fallacy spewing radicals abusing the situation for their own pet cause.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  7. Topdecker

    God is where he always has been, in peoples imagination.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • LOL

      You need a hug to, huh?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Foolish Mortal

      Perhaps TopDecker should pray for a hug. Cause that sure works...

      July 25, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Ryan

      Short and true. Thanks

      July 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • This message is not 4U ...its AboutU

      they had to create a God to explain the power of the cosmos and the affect it has on them ...and they needed someone to blame.
      A god can be very handy and quite profitable!

      July 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  8. Kellie

    Well, if you believe what you've always been taught, then you know that God was right there, watching a madman exercise his "free will" and doing nothing.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • 70s Girl

      That's a very curious response; you don't at all get what I said. No, "He" wasn't there watching; He's not a guy watching insanity occur. What I was taught is that we are all called to live the way Jesus lived. Regardless of a belief in God or not; Jesus lived and gave us all a message. What we choose to do with that message is up to all of us and yes sometimes at the hand of a lunatic or just an evil person trajedy occurs and takes the life of the innocent. It would be nice if we could all just live to a ripe old age wouldn't it?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  9. 70s Girl

    God is not some guy up in a physical "heaven" making decisions about who lives and dies. I believe that there is a higher power; God yes I believe in God but not as a physical being. The law of the Universe has always mirrored what I learned from God/Jesus. Free will is a gift of a double edged sword. What we choose to do with it directly impacts the course of events in our lives as well as others. Also if we really believe as Christians; what the message has always been to us, its that what is important is how we live our lives here in the physical world; finding our purpose; living as Jesus lived and believing unconditionally in Him. We will all die at some point but how we live our lives is what's important. No, I in no way belittle the trajedy which occurred at the hands of this person, nor do I devalue the lives of those lost. Human life is so precious. But do I think there is a guy up there dealing the hands of who lives and dies no I don't. In many cases; such as this, it is the humans who decide who lives and who dies. We created the technology that gives us images of death in such a way that we detach from it; in video games, movies, tv. We created the weapons that kill and give license to use them. We were given so many gifts in our physical world; food enough for all to eat, water enough for all, wealth enough for all and peace enough for all. We've squandered many of them and have diminished to the point where it takes a tragic event such as this to even begin to change. In order for the world to change each of us must live the way we were intended to live. Free Will? I wonder if it is such a good thing.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Foolish Mortal

      A fairy tale is a fairy tale, no matter what version you happen to "believe" in.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  10. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    This article is head on. Ignoramuses. Two bit idiots. Fools. Anyone who believes in a sky daddy should be castrated.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Unknown

      "Sky fairy"?

      You show how stupid atheists are troll tom tom.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      WOW are you a beacon of tolerance or what? You are violent.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Foolish Mortal

      Call it what you want to, your beliefs are nothing more than a puff of smoke.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Unknown: TT is right and your ignorance once again shines through. The following link is to the story of one of the girls who survived that night and to prove previous points, this girl was not a believer. http://sinisterdreams.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/carli-and-chriss-story-continued/#comment-297

      July 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Nice

      I guess you'll be the first in line right? Don't take to much off the top! LOL

      July 25, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Jon

      You're all idiots. Anyone with any sense knows we are ruled by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Duh!

      July 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  11. MIRIAN

    God is right where we left him.. .. WE AS SOCIETY HAS REMOVED HIM FROM OUR LAWS, SCHOOL SYSTEM, ETC.... BUT WE SO READY TO BLAME HIM WHEN THEIRS A TRADEGY.....

    I ASK GOD TO CONSOLE AND GIVE STRENGTH TO THE VICTIMS AND THIER FAMILY GOD BLESS THEM.....

    July 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Foolish Mortal

      All of your prayers plus $2 are not quite enough to buy a cup of coffee.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Sally

      True Mirian...Noone wants God in their lives and when there is a suffering....all the blame goes to Him. And some take this opportunity to prove that the truth never existed!! What a shame!!

      July 25, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Mike

      Obviously, God wasn't helping you with your grammar.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Mirian: Use a little sense...your imaginary friend is not shared by everyone...thus the reason it is not allowed in the schools or public square. Now given your obvious lack of education (THEIRS proves the point...try using the correct term), not one of us would expect you to comprehend what the consti.tution states.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Foolish Mortal

      I will pray for your grammar, Sally.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  12. Bruce

    I'm amazed when people start to blame God but not thank Him for his blessings. God gives us a choice saying you don't believe in Him doesn't change God. He doesn't need our belief to exist. He is not dependent on us for his existence. He doesn't need our approval or permission. As scripture says who ever became God's counselor. When Job presented his case God didn't say oh your right I made a mistake instead He said where we're you when I created the earth. Those who say there isn't a God need to pull up their big boy pants and be grateful they exist. As far as the suffering question God has already saved mankind from themselves some have not accepted this that isn't Gods fault it's ours.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • TomPaine

      Perhaps God is not dependent on anything, but for many people belief in him is dependent on conclusive evidence, which he is so stingy with for some reason.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  13. Ricky Lovejoy

    God was too busy giving African babies malaria to save these people.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  14. Gustave Dekking

    Were was the Spaghetti Monster, Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Get a grip America. A crazy man went into a theater and killed 12 people for no damn reason what-so-ever. Thats what crazy people do when they can obtain that kind of fire power in the name of your brand of freedom. 12 innocent people died as a result and your asking where is god? What is the matter with you all. Freedom as you define it did not save anybody at the theater that night. If you had any sense you would all be telling yourself there can not possibly be an all knowing god in the sky inflicting his will on innocent people. To believe that makes you as sick and demented as the crazy nut shooter.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • matt in nw

      this

      July 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  15. GSK

    People constantly ask why would GOD allow this massacre, that massacre, and this one and that one and another one... without realizing that there is NO GOD and that is why we observe all this happening. There is no sky daddy overlooking and helping us out... the sooner people realize that the fasted we can move on and start realizing that we humans are in control and we should be the ones who care for others and this ONE PRECIOUS LIFE we all had a chance to live.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  16. disismdns

    well in a world like this and with people who constantly deny God and His people why should he? In all honesty God was there. We should feel blessed that there were survivors at all. Yes, the massacre was a terrible moment in our history but it could have been much, much worse. No one or just a few could have survived but only a few died and for that we should be thankful. Trust there is coming a day where God will return and save His people but if you constantly deny Him into your heart, you will not be one of those who are saved.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • JazzDawg

      You are sick religious nut case. How can you possibly say "we should be blessed" Really .. Blessed? What is the matter with you! There is no consolation to innocent people be murdered by a crazy man. Its sheer luck that no more died that night. god had nothing to do with it!

      July 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  17. Tim

    There is no god, so why would he be there?

    July 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  18. Unknown

    Look at all these delusional atheists saying "There is no God".That's an opinion not fact.THAT'S your own religion.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Foolish Mortal

      Hahahaha...your logic is impeccable.

      Actually it's not. It's up to the claimant to justify the extraordinary claim, not the other way around, DB.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • matt in nw

      you can correct my think with a single shred of proof. jesus healed , fed, raised.... get some food to a famine striken area ..hoorn of africa..straight away and you ll have a new Zealot...just gotta point me to the correct denomination should God manage the proof.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • matt in nw

      you can correct my thinking with a single shred of proof. jesus healed , fed, raised.... get some food to a famine striken area ..hoorn of africa..straight away and you ll have a new Zealot...just gotta point me to the correct denomination should God manage the proof.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Nick

      NONE OF THIS IS FACT, that's why it's called faith, belief...

      July 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • matt in nw

      sorry about double post – thought i could correct an error real fast

      July 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Unknown: Your belief in god is also only an opinion. There is no evidence to support your imaginary friends existence. Until you provide that we see no reason to believe. You take this belief of yours on faith (belief without evidence). You do not care that what you believe is true and thus you are a gullible sheep.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  19. jo

    after a personal tragedy as a crime victim i faced, I was being comforted by a close friend who also happened to be an Episcopalian priest; His response, that I found quite comforting (and I'm buddhist) was that God neither creates nor interferes with evil....He is there to support with love when we are faced with it.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  20. Paul

    In the pages of a book, same place he's always been.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:38 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.