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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. lightingdarkness

    Atheists are dead spiritually and eyes have been closed by their own will....it is pointless to argue with them. What happened in CO is not the work of God as God does not posses people to kill anyone....evil does. Although this was a tragedy we all die sometime and it seemed to be the time for those that were taken 🙁 My hope is that none of them were atheists because if they were they are going to be very disappointed.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:06 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.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Is our xian children learning?

      Atheists don't need spirituality to be whole human beings. We are just fine living loving, ethical, fulfilling, giving, fruitful lives now, than you ego-filled, vapid, fearful xians who must live on eggshells of some empty hope of a make-believe forever in paradise if we are good and eternal damnation if we aren't. Personally, I would never want to live for eternity, especially with my dead relatives. Blech. I am happy with what I KNOW I have, unlike you, who lives on false hopes fear-based threats.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • JupiterMaximus

      All will be disappointing when they die my child. Your lives and deaths mean nothing to us, except for the pleasure we get watching them. You and the non-believers are one in the same to us. Sleep well my child.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Newmoon2

      For the most part, atheists and agnostics are pretty happy, fulfilled, ethical, moral, and content. We believe in doing what's right because it's right, not because we'll be punished or rewarded. Enjoy your delusions and make sure you clap your hands every night to keep those fairies alive!

      July 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Behold the Man

      You wrote, "...as God does not posses people to kill anyone" Have you read the old testament? It's chock full of god commanding his people to kill other people, even to wipe entire civilizations off the map.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  2. Gabriel

    Everybody do this RIGHT now: wiki "The Archangel Gabriel" and find out exactly what his job is. Then go back and read his post at 6:56 PM, please.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • JupiterMaximus

      You are human my child, you like all others will endure the same fate

      July 25, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  3. JupiterMaximus

    I am the true God you speak of my children. I allowed the blood shed in CO and all around the world because it is entertaining for my self and my family. Keep well children.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Gabriel

      Nice try. I know for a fact that your post was meant to simply disrupt my work. I can't even stand this anymore. I'm logging off and going to work on one of my charities.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Adam

      I bow down to Jupiter Maximus.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  4. Newmoon2

    If God is all-knowing, all-loving, all-just, then He would never allow something like this to happen. So He is either NOT all-loving/just/knowing or perhaps He's not there at all OR maybe... just maybe... we don't know or understand ANYTHING about God.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • JupiterMaximus

      You mean nothing to us but amusement my child

      July 25, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Newmoon2

      I stopped believing in fairies and goblins a long time ago. God is an invention of man... and not a very clever one at that!

      July 25, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Gabriel

      True you don't know anything about God, but if you would siply read his post at 6:56 PM that would be a good head start for you.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  5. Jim

    If God isn't real, how did He create man in His own image? Checkmate, atheists!

    July 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Observer

      Yep. God has murdered far more people than Holmes.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Newmoon2

      You appear to have checked your brain at the door!

      July 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  6. Denverly

    Isn't it funny that tragedy makes religious people try to justify a benevolent god? Either god exists and is not benevolent, or god does not exist. Those are the two choices. I go with the latter. God was in the imaginations of believers, the same as he/she/it always has been and always will be.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  7. Estrella

    If there is a god he either a) made this happen so is not worthy of our worship or b) was unable to stop this from happening and is therefore useless. I've never understood why people find comfort in believing horrible events like this are part of god's plan. If terror, bloodshed and the loss of human life are his plan then he is a bad god. There is no god, no devil, no heaven, no hell. There are only humans, flawed, beautiful humans who commit astonishing acts of kindness and horrifying acts of brutality. The events in Colorado were not the work of imaginary beings pulling our strings from behind the scenes. They were the work of a very disturbed young man and anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or selling you something.

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

      I forgive you for your disrespect. I apologize for being caught offgaurd on this one. I was actually off planning a MAJOR charity elsewhere when this went down.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  8. Adam

    Organized religion is disgusting. Treat your other humans and animals in a way you wish to be treated, and take care of the planet you're on. That's about it. Anyone preaching otherwise is looking for your money, war, or both.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  9. Robyn D

    God was there. He was with the four men who covered their wives/girlfriends and gave their lives to protect them. God was there with the friends who stopped the bleeding of their friends, God was there with the policeman who rushed in to save lives. God was with the nurses and next to the surgeons who fought against time to save the gravely wounded. God was there. He was watching as evil reared it's head and did it's worst. God gave us all free will. Evil is always there ... just on your shoulder urging you to steal, lie,covet and murder. All you have to do is say no. But too many choose the wrong thing. Evil and God are always with us. I just plan to pack a gun from now on so if the Devil does show up I can shoot his *ss dead!

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

      If this is satire I would love to meet you. If you have to Google "satire" then I'm all set.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • JupiterMaximus

      Worry not my children of such frivolous things my children all of you will end in the same way; from the righteous to the loathsome to the wicked, we care not.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  10. One one

    Christians say Jesus died to "save" us. Why ?

    If he is all powerful, he could just wave his magic wand and lift the curse.

    After all, he put the curse on us in the first place.

    No need for a bloody drama.

    I suppose it makes a more dramatic and interesting story.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • nbs429

      can't believe that this article was even posted. we seem to be remembering God in only in bad times.. When there are good times in our lives, no one remembers God, but during the bad times we question?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Gabriel

      Jesus didn't "die" to save us – he was murdered by agents of Lucifer. Waving a "magic wand" would accidentally break the physics of boundaries that we've devised to protect your infantile souls so that you do not fly off into the cosmos before your soul is developed enough to handle living in Dark Matter.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • One one

      Gabriel, I have often thought that myself.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  11. cinqo

    if you know the mindset of most mathematicians, then you won't be surprised that someone could turn into a killer such as in colorado cinema.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Behold the Man

      BIG difference between a mathematician and a neuroscientist!

      July 25, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  12. Hawkeye

    If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.
    C. S. Lewis

    July 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  13. Observer

    Infinitely wise and just, God has decided that this cold-blooded murderer of adults and children should suffer the IDENTICAL PUNISHMENT as consenting adults for what they do alone in the privacy of their bedroom. Bright.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  14. Meegye01

    Bertrand Russell, noted atheistic philosopher and mathematician, said it's we who are kings in the realm of value – that it's we who create value, our desires that confer value, and that there's nothing out there in the universe to guide us as to how we do so. So if the shooter desired to value the Aurora victims as targets, what's the problem? Russell also said that good and evil were the survival-related, natural products of a blind, purposeless evolutionary process. So then evil's the same kind of construct that atheists see God to be, and the Aurora shootings are evil only as people happen to decide that they're so. Evil as a real problem is there for us to struggle with only as reality is radically different from how Russell saw it to be – only as God who is good is the one who made it all in the beginning. If the shooter and his victims weren't made in God's image, then there'd be nothing for us simple beasts to be scratching our heads about.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      You obviously don't understand logic let alone good & evil. The evolution of morals is bottom up, not top down. It's not handed to us from on high, it's learned by us from watching others and empathizing with them, seeing ourselves or our loved ones in those theatre seats and being horrified at how another human is unable to feel that same empathy that 95% of the rest of us do. About 5% of the world does not produce oxytocin on stimulus which is the empathy chemical our brains produce which contects us to others. Without it, a person is unable to walk a mile in another persons shoes and actually thinks it's strange when someone else does something charitible or altruistic. Strangely, the financial data shows that approx 5% of Americans control 95% of American wealth, so I guess being a dick to others does have it's financial benefits...

      July 25, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  15. Adam in Kansas.

    Let’s take in to account a few of Gods well known attributes.

    1: He is omniscient and omnificent. Therefore he created this man with 100% certainty that he would commit this horrific crime at the moment He created him. Free will or not, being omniscient he knew that the man would exercise his free will and kill these people, (even though knowledge of past, present, and future events kind of negates free will) and decided to create him anyway. Omniscience and poor decision making don’t really go together.

    2: He is omnipotent. Let’s pretend for a moment that this guy slipped past the omniscient ones radar. God has complete, unlimited, and universal power and authority, and yet He chose not to exercise this power to stop the senseless, and what seems to be so far, meaningless killing of men, women, and children. That’s not benevolent, nor does it show an unconditional love for his favorite creations.

    Both of these points are in direct relation to pretty much all 3 current monotheisms description of the Abrahamic God.

    So what’s more likely here? That God is truly omniscient, omnificent, and omnipotent, and that he simply chooses not to eliminate the murder and suffering of his beloved creations (which doesn’t really cast him in a favorable light in my book)? Or do we employ the use of Occam’s decisive and potent razor, and decide that none of the religious claims to Gods greatness are even remotely true?

    It’s an easy decision for me. God is not real.

    There is no one watching over us and protecting us, there is not some all powerful being toying around or tinkering with our everyday lives and activities, and if you do believe Him to be real, it should be extremely hard to believe he cares one bit about what happens here on Earth. God was not in Aurora because He is nonexistent. A mentally imbalanced human did something terrible, it wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • One one

      Wouldn't it be nice if there really was a god who took a personal interest in ME ?
      Wouldn't it be nice if there really was a god who would protect me when life gets scary?
      Wouldn't it be nice if there really was a god who validated my values and beliefs to be 100% correct ?
      Wouldn't it be nice if there really was a god who gave me easy answers to life's complicated questions?
      Wouldn't it be nice if there really was a god who would let me live forever after I die ?
      Wouldn't it be nice if I could look down at all those people who disagreed with me and watch them burn in hell ?
      Wow ! I think I'll start believing in god !

      July 25, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Alex in texas

      the absence of God is the only thing that makes logical and moral sense. well put.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Gabriel

      I'm not omnificent and I would have stopped John Holmes if I had any inkling that my adverary, the devil, had this massacre planned.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Gabriel

      I've saved thousands of lives as a paramedic and doing the best darn job i possibly can with this mortal form. Cut me a break.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • matt in nw

      well put man:)

      July 25, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • TheGreatOne

      This is very well said and should probably be one of the "Featured" Comment... But how likely is that to happen on the CNN Belief Blog when it most likely goes against everything the people choosing the posts beleive?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  16. 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.

    – TJ (Me)

    July 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  17. eroteme

    God may have been absent. Among other things, God had been kicked out of Aurora's public schools, local government, Colorado's state government, and our goverfnment in Washington.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Thomas Jefferson

      How exactly does one kick an omniscient, omnipotent being out of anywhere?

      Is god pouting like a two-year-old? Holding his almighty breath?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Observer

      If your religious leaders have failed so miserably that the schools must take over the job they flunked, you need to look at them.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Is our xian children learning?

      And rightly so. That is something, separation of church and state, for which atheists fight, and that might confuse the ever-befuddled xians into thinking we have religious beliefs. They confuse politics with religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  18. Hawkeye

    Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.
    C. S. Lewis

    July 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  19. Pat Lundgren

    We have removed God from most things in US, so Satan is working hard, you can see the 2 different souls in the shooter alone, so let us put God where he belongs everywhere.

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

      Thank you, Pat. I'm working extremely hard on this right now. But you can tell from most of these posters what I'm up against.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Is our xian children learning?

      God and satan are myths by definition. Let's file them both, along with the bible, under fiction. Keep them in your churches where they belong. We are a secular nation, not a xian nation. Never, ever forget that. You talk about choice, well, we chose diversity for this country when it was founded. You can't call dibs by any stretch of your imagination.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  20. joeybamboots

    Nothing in nature exists that is so tailored to humans as the idea of god and heaven. It's obvious that it's a creation of our own imagination rather than a true element of reality. A person only comes to that conclusion when they decide they will believe what's real and not what they want to be real. Remember after all, ignorance is bliss.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Diety is a fact proven by Quantum physics, it is truth absolute 360*, known to humanity from time of human creation and enshrined in human language and mind, HU MANN, HIS DESIRE.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:06 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.