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. Cip

    God was in Syria watching children being killed.

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


      July 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  2. Deborah, Seattle

    WHERE WAS GOD IN AURORA?? Are you kidding? Where was God in Columbine, the concentration camps in WW2, Rwanda and other countries where massacres are taking place every day. I am by no means minimizing the tragedy in Aurora but God was in none of those places. When are we going to stop trying to make sense of evil people who commit evil acts? Most of them are mentally ill. This country has yet to own the staggering numbers of the mentally ill just walking the streets.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Unknown

      Where was humanity?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Schlomo Goldschitz

      The Nazis didn't gas any Jews, the holocau$t is a giant fraud. Please visit Nazigassings.com

      July 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • haddrew

      Free will is a stupid argument. If you think that humans are the only animals with free will, you've never owned a cat. So if a burgler breaks into my house and I shoot him, it's my will that he dies? Vice versa if my dog mauls an intruder it's actually god's will at work? It's all dumb.

      At the end of the day we're all just animals.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  3. Stefanie

    It's obvious that we are all given free will. We do what we want when we want, its foolish to think that we are all puppets on strings. I don't think anyone means for ANYTHING to happen, it just does. Bad things and good things happen in this world and there is nothing to be done about it. The important thing is to stay true to yourself, to choose to do good things and treat people with kindness. This can be difficult in world full of greed and hatred, the choices we make are the ultimate "test". Look at what some of the victims of the theater shooting did for the ones that they loved. The ones who were killed serve as a lesson to the rest of us, the ones who live serve as a reminder.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  4. cinqo

    read the history and biographies of mathematicians. maybe you won't be shocked anymore of why this student who discovered he wasn't cut out to be a neuroscientist, turned to crime. very reminiscent of my own crazy brother, wasn't cutout for engineering, and thus decided to bring down his own younger brother, by any means.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  5. Schlomo Goldschitz

    I'll tell you lemmings where God WASN'T– in the heart of that Jewish devil James Holmes........

    July 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  6. Gabriel

    -God is real.

    -God is currently on Earth RIGHT now.

    -God himself, has personally posted several original comments in this EXACT forum right here.

    -God himself has personally replied to several of your comments in this forum as well.

    -Yet, about 90% of you commenters voice your opinion that there is no God.

    -The 10% of you who have voiced your faith in God are not enlightened enough to recognize that ONE of the posters in this forum is speaking directly on behalf of God via a mortal form.

    -God is forced to select a mortal form to communicate with you all because his primary form exists in Dark Matter that science barely understands at all. God's primary form cannot physically step outside of the Dark Matter without shattering the physics that God has carefully constructed to serve as a well planned baby cribgate for your young souls, which are still infantile in development, compared to the concept of infinite time in which the "Universe" prolongs itself, and other concepts that your comparitively young souls are still too immature too understand.

    -God is reading many of your comments and gauging your ability to believe in more than what your constructed egos and physical eyes are capable of interpreting.

    -Despite God's 110% best efforts, humankind is not ready to even listen to God's personal mortal representative at this time... or at least via this written venue. I'll have to get more creative, I guess. If I spell it out in lightening in the sky I might accidentally break some stuff.

    -Do you understand? No, 99% of you still do not.

    Anybody taking any interest in this post whatsover, I have recommendations for you to help understand the significance of thos post better: Copy and paste this post into word format, and hang onto it for a few hours. Immediately go committ a random act of kindness to a stranger, tell someone you love them, forgive someone, or run out real quick and give some money to charity. Then come right back AND READ THIS POST A SECOND TIME.

    I love you all, and forgive those of you who are non-believers for your ignorance. Seriously, this is the best I can do. It's even a little bit frustrating at times because I am trying to elevate humankind to a higher state of consciousness but I am forced to make the analogy that attempting to explain this to you all is like trying to explain the Kreb Cycle to a 2 and a half year old.

    If a single person "gets" this post, then at least I will feel better that I have not wasted the 10 mortal minutes it took for me to write and post this.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)


      July 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • trav

      Good post Gabe. The proof He exist is because people CHOOSEto be ignorant. Many trolls out there who are clueless.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • bearchewtoy75

      Lots of percentages in your post.

      Would love to see you back those up with evidence, along with the existence of your god that you insist is the correct god of the thousands of other god/goddess that have "existed" throughout human history.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • songdude

      This a a great post, the only one on here that make any sense. I never graduated from high school, but I understand this post, and anyone that does not get dark matter, is just not part of the whole equation. They could never understand, but if you truly believe in your heart, it just is, and always will be. How do you think you were created? something powerful happened a great form of Energy we can not even comprehend. God is Energy, we were created in his likeness.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Chris Walker

      Ok. It may be a lifelong question to ask, "Why does God Allow Suffering?". Since this is a religious question, we should look to religion to answer it. The Bible has answered this question from the very beginning. Everyone thinks that their priest or their pastor has all of the right answers and that they do not have to even open the Bible to check to make sure that they are correct. They are not correct. If they were, you would not be asking that question.

      1) The Bible first of all says that the ruler of this world is NOT God. (2 Corinthians. 4:4, 1 John 5:19, Revelation 12:9)

      2) Mankind is imperfect. They struggle for dominance which results in wars, oppression, and suffering like we saw in Colorado. (Ecclesiastes 4:1, Ecclesiastes 8:9)

      3) The Bible also describes what happened in Aurora, Colorado as many other tragedies and that is that sometime people are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's unfortunate but it does happen. (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

      God is not responsible for all of these tragic things that occur upon this earth. The above 3 things are and these answers have been in the Bible since it was written.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  7. Nice

    @Foolish Mortal you need a hug, huh? Anybody!??

    Since nobody wants to give you a hug, you don't exist just like god doesn't.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  8. songdude

    God did give us free will to do what ever we want and pay the price when it happens. Be it good or bad. He is there when we call on him to comport us in good and bad. He does NOT stop good or bad things from happening. God lives in our hearts and souls. He is there any time we call on him. He cant stop anything from happening here on earth, but he can be there to bring us home as long as he lives within us. Positive energy is God. Negative is Evil. Good can not exist without evil, until God ends it all here on earth and starts over, if you so believe.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  9. Miguel Caron

    God was the same place he always is – in people's imaginations.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Creative

      Your imagination is limited. THANK GOD! LOL LOL

      July 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  10. Miguel Caron

    God was the same place he always is – in people's imaginations.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  11. Unknown

    So atheists claim God doesn't exist because he did not stop it? Hmm.More and more people care less about starving people in Africa or who dies from what.More people care about what "celeb" did what or wears what.That's all people care about these days.

    Its to bad many atheists follow a delusion,a very powerful delusion.And they call themselves "logical"...bullcrap.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • JWT

      What delusion ? It is not a delusion that we see no god.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      More drivel from the deep hole that is Unknown. Atheists are claiming there is no god because of this event; they're simply saying that this event, contrary to what believers say, doesn't provide evidence that there is a god.

      Can you provide that evidence, Unknown/Clown L?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Is our xian children learning?

      You're the delusional one. Atheists don't claim god doesn't exist because he didn't stop this shooting. You made that up. You want to believe that atheism is nonsensical to justify your delusions that a man in the sky who gave you ten (only ten) rules to follow for evelasting life in paradise (or eternal damnation in hell) follows your every move, watches over you, sees you when you're sleeping (sounds like santa), and listens to all your banal and selfish prayers – yet doesn't intervene on earth. Coo-coo. Atheist simply believe in ONE fewer god than you, and that's all. Nothing else. You know all those gods you don't believe in? Apply that to your god as well and you have an atheist. Don't read any more of your silly drivel into it.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  12. Voice of Reason

    Guaranteed anyone calling the Bible a fairytale has never read it because something massive must have happened because the Jews today still believe in the Old Testament but the Christians believe in both the Old Testament and the New Testament and the concepts in the New Testament were so radical for a first century Jew which is why Jesus was killed. No one in first century Israel would have come up with a Messiah born in poverty who preached to love your enemy to be their King. They were looking for a rich and strong a powerful King that would get rid of the Roman occupation of Israel.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  13. Norman Nelson

    If God was there or at 9 11 I don't support his magic, then again was it Allah, Budda, The Great Spirit, Abraham, Christ
    or were they all there and Satan won. Religion gets in the way of reality, let it alone and don't expect whoever God is to do anything at all.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  14. Mike C.

    My grandfather had a saying "We all have a date on the calendar and there is nothing you can do to change it". So you only die on the day you are supposed to die. It sometimes happens due to old age, but often it is not a pleasant death or one that happens solemnly. If God takes life from babies, young children and others via natural disaster why is he also not responsible for other methods of death?

    Life is a miracle for sure. But if Christians truly had faith in their "God" they would not hold physical life as dear as they do since the entire purpose of being a Christian is entry into Heaven upon death – which should make death the most celebrated of all of life's cycles. That is if a Christian truly has faith that what he believes is real. Leads me to believe that people that spew religion the most believe in its purpose the least.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  15. Babz

    The older I get the more I know that I don't know much. What I do know is, God is just and fair and my understanding is neither. I choose to continue to believe in A God that is compassionate.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • ttwp


      July 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  16. Beelzebub

    Where was God in Aurora? The same place he was in Auschwitz, Cambodia, and Rwanda – MIA.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Kaylina

      It is NOT part of God's will for things like this to happen. If anyone tells you it's part of his plan or that God needed another angel in heaven, don't listen to them. If God needed another angel in heaven, he would have simply created one, like he did with the other myriads of angels already there. That notion is ignorant and cruel. The Bible gives plain clear answers as to why these things happen. I will list a few:

      1. Satan is in control on earth:

      (Revelation 12:9) So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.
      (Revelation 12:12) On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”

      (1 John 5:19) We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the [power of the] wicked one.

      2. God is not the source of our problems:

      (James 1:13) When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.

      (Job 34:10) Therefore, you men of heart, listen to me. Far be it from the [true] God to act wickedly, And the Almighty to act unjustly!

      3. The Bible foretold that in the last days, the condition of man would deteriorate and badness would increase on the earth:

      (2 Timothy 3:1-5) But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, 3 having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, 4 betrayers, headstrong, puffed up [with pride], lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away.

      4. God promises to undo all the suffering in the future:

      (Psalm 37:10-11) And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; And you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. 11 But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.

      (Revelation 21:4) And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”

      (John 5:28-29) Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.

      5. All these things are possible, not through man's efforts, but through God's Kingdom:

      (Daniel 2:44) “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite;

      (Matthew 6:9-10) “YOU must pray, then, this way: “‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. 10 Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.

      Why do you think Jesus told us to pray the Lord's Prayer if he didn't think it would come true? The sad fact is, these kinds of things happen all over the world every day. But God promised to redeem humanity and bring us back to the perfect conditions that existed before Adam and Eve sinned. All we have to do is wait on God and try to prove ourselves faithful. 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is not, "slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance."

      He wants to give everyone a fair chance to learn about him and have a relationship with him. John 17:3 says that knowledge of God and Jesus is essential to everlasting life. Do not fear if a loved one dies. Jesus promised to resurrect the dead. The only ones who should be afraid are the wicked.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Schlomo Goldschitz

      Hahaha Auschwitz - the myth of the 20th century. There were no gas chambers, bozo. Jews WERE NOT GASSED IN ANY GERMAN LABOR CAMP!! But of course I don't expect any of you lemmings to look further into the matter, Steven Spielberg has already told all of you everything you need to know.....LOL!!!!!!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Kaylina: Wow, nothing proves ones inability to think for themselves like the posting of scripture from a book written by man 2000 years ago...a book that has been refuted numerous times over. Educate yourself little one or go back to the sandbox and play with your other friends who also have imaginary friends.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • DaisyMay

      TruthPrevails: Good Point ! Name another book that has "survived" numerous attempts to destroy it. A book that gave a clear explanation that the earth was a "circle" (Isa. 40:22) When man went sailing to find the end of the earth. An ancient book that alluded to our current science of DNA "parts down in writing" (Ps. 139:16) Like a business man that dictates a letter to his secretary.... God dictated his thoughts to humans he chose. The ancient letter belongs to the business man, NOT the secretary. The answers to this worlds problems and the final outcome he has revealed thru his word, The Bilble. All mankind has freewill and a choice. Choose to believe or not. However, your choice will not stop HIS purpose.

      Kaylina: Your words will bring comfort to those "searching" for answers.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  17. Bishop Hairy Palms

    If there is a God, he/she either isn't all powerful or isn't all good.

    No "God" who is all powerful would let so much suffering take place unless of course "God" isn't all good.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Jon

      I don't really have a response, but your name is pretty funny.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • trav

      God does exist. He allows man to do as he wishes. Dont blame God, but blame man.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Creative

      Define God and I'll buy you a cup coffee.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Jon

      God = Flying Spaghetti Monster. I like my coffee black.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • trav


      God is everything your not! Next Q plz

      July 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  18. Nemo

    This was the punishment for America's ongoing love affair with guns.

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

      Are you aware that violent crime is at a lower level than it has ever been in recent history? Where do you get this nonsense from?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Stephen

      And the shooter in Norway, was he a response to Norway's love affair / obsession with guns too?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  19. BV

    Seriously? Some people are still kicking around the idea of 'free will' and god?
    If your god were omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent he would have already known the tragedy was to occur. He also would have been there and had the means to stop it, but chose to not be bothered.
    There is no more a god than there is your ability to change what it would inerrantly know.

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

      You have no sense. Man has chosen to disobey and have it their way. As a result bad things and suffering still happens

      July 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Bishop Hairy Palms


      It's time you stopped making up excuses for your absentee sky daddy.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Bishop Hairy Palms


      It's time you stopped making up excuses for your absentee sky daddy.

      No one's buying it.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Bruce

      Agree 100%. Whenever anyone brings god into any event whether good or bad I just roll my eyes...there's another sucker...

      July 25, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • trav

      He is not for sell. You serve either God or the devil. Which one do you? dont sly around question. Which one? it is entirely your choice.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • APO_AE_09173

      Why is it so important to you that I agree with your position that there is no God?

      The concept of God brings comfort to billions of people. Why do you wish to deny them the comfort they seek? If you do not find comfort in the notion of an after-life don't believe in it. The first amendment protects your rights here as well.

      As for those of us who choose to believe kindly look into what it brings to our lives before you make your uninfomed condemnations.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • bribrazi

      "There is no tragety in death, only in sin." Death is a part of life, and of God's overall plan. If it weren't, no body would die. Does it matter how they die? why should it. Their spirits have gone back to God, most if not all are greated by loving family members who have already passed away.
      But the man who killed, he will not have such a happy reunion. He will reap what he sowed. He will have the indignation of
      God to deal with.

      So, with that perspective, who really gets it bad in the end? The shooter.

      Death isn't evil,
      death is a step we all must take and the key that opens the gate to eternity.

      Those without faith probably fear death, because they do not understand it. Neither do they understand grace and mercy that comes from Christ.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Stephen

      The actions of this gunman, or the fact that the event in no way prove or disprove the existance of an all powerful being.
      You assume that God was not there because the event took place, try assuming instead that it could have been by far worse if He/She/It/They had NOT been there. You cannot know what might have been, just as much as you cannot know if God was present to prevent more injuries or offer peace to those whose lives were affected that night. If your proof that God does not exist is that you have no proof, then I stand that he does using that same logic.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  20. tj

    I don't think you can refer to a mentally ill individual as EVIL. EVIL has to do with intent and deliberate desire to cause harm. For an individual who has lost themself to mental illness, it is not a desire but the control of a sickness that compels them to commit an evil act. There is a difference between the evil act and the mentally ill individual.
    I'm not one who believes in "GOD", its magical thinking to me. But I am a very good person, as are many I know who don't follow the christian or other faith. This didn't happen because of the failing of a parent, suggesting that it did could be called "EVIL". This didn't happen because of separation of church and state. This happened because a mentally ill young man was able to purchase assault rifles and 6000 rounds of ammunition easier than if he were in any other country because of the power of the gun lobby. The 2nd ammendment was not built around the freedom to own these. Quit trying to find some magical reason based on the devil or god, and simply look at the facts realistically, logically, rationally. This happened for one very simple reason; the easy availability of assault weapons to a mentally ill individual.

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

      Why automatically assume he is mentally ill? He may just be a sadistic POS. Not unlike many Catholic priests, today...

      July 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • JWT

      No evidence has been presented that suggests he is mentally ill.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:55 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.