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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. Satan

    There is no such thing as "The Invisible Man in the Sky" !! You people need to get a grip with reality and stop with all of this "God" BS !!!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  2. Joshua

    Religion is the face and definition of willful ignorance. If it is God's will, then there is no reason to arrest a man who's only crime was following God's orders.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  3. Joe

    I dont believe in a god but if there is one, then he/she/it is pretty benign letting tragedy happen on a daily basis all over the world.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  4. Jim

    Is he willing to help but unable? – Then he is not omnipotent
    Is he able to help but chooses not to?- Then he not an all loving God
    Is he both willing to and able to help but chooses to do nothing? – Then he is evil
    Is he neither able nor willing? – Then God does not exist

    July 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Madtown

      Not exactly. He could also just have created the universe, then backed off and doesn't really have much to do with day to day activity. We don't know.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • junior

      If His love for you enabled your existence on this earth, then He is compassionate and merciful.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Jim

      Madtown, your response falls into lines #2 or #3 where he is able but backs off
      Is he able to help but chooses not to?- Then he not an all loving God
      Is he both willing to and able to help but chooses to do nothing? – Then he is evil

      July 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Madtown

      Jim, my point is that there may be many other options than those you presented. It's an interesting question, but I believe not one that we could possibly answer anyway. Cheers....

      July 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  5. Ashley

    Society and government keep telling us to get God out of schools, out of the public eye and out of society. So he is a gentlemen.. and stepped out of our society. This is the kind of reprocussions we see when we keep telling God to get out our lives.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Which god? Krishna? Allah? Buddah? Yaweh? Manitou? Zeus? Thor? There are so many fairytale sky gods it's hard to keep track of them all.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • iheartyou

      So what is your explanation for the rampant, long-standing child abuse by priests in the catholic church? They have an abundance of god in their lives. Sooooo....???

      July 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Madtown

      Ashley didn't specify "which" God, and didn't need to. We as humans aren't really capable of defining God anyway, so using "God" is more than sufficient.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • QS

      LMAO!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • junior

      Because they (priests) are human, just like school teachers, coaches, ministers, dentists, etc. Your point? Do you blame the medicine when the patient refuses to take it?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • iheartyou

      My point is – these priests did NOT tell god to get out of their lives. As a matter of fact, their entire lives were devoted to god. So why then did the children get molested? Ashley is stating that these are the "reprocussions we see when we keep telling god to get out our lives" (by the way – it's "repercussions" and "out OF our lives"), and I'm merely arguing the fallacy in that statement, seeing as the followers of the catholic church (who wanted nothing more than to have god in their lives) still had horrible things happen. So her "logic" makes no sense.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  6. Rock

    God gave man a free will. People who give God control and are in His will can never be killed until they are finished with their assignment, just like no could kill Jesus until He let them.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      News flash
      Jesus commited suicide.
      Jesus was god. God is all knowing. God knew prior to coming to earth ( via his 'son') that god would be crucified and die on the cross.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Yeah, an idea is the hardest thing to kill.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  7. Josef Bleaux

    Christianity, like all religions, is nothing more than ancient mythology, written thousands of years ago by members of a primitive society in an effort to explain existence and comfort people in the face of their mortality. I've read both the old and new testaments cover to cover. I've read many other religious texts as well. They're all just ancient mythology from primitive cultures, nothing more. Period.

    When I look around, I don't see a god flying around in a cloud or pillar of fire, I don't see sticks turning into snakes, I don't see rivers turning to blood or wine, seas parting, etc. etc. If that stuff was real and happened then, it would be happening now. I don't see miracles happening, all I see is a lot of ignorant people blindly accepting ancient mythology as fact, while rejecting modern scientific knowledge. If people would use their brains for a change, THINK about it using logic, reason and objectivity, then they would understand that it's just old myths. It's just so utterly obvious.

    What religion you are is mostly determined by where you were born and which mythology you’ve been indoctrinated with since birth. That right there should tell you it’s not real.

    All the gods that have been worshiped throughout history would fill 10 football stadiums, but of course everyone believes that THEIRS is the only one that’s real. It’s just all so stupid.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • QS

      Well said, thanks! I look at it like this – every religion declares their version of god the only right and true one, essentially all religions claiming they are right while all others are wrong – to me that means they are all wrong.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      I agree with Josef Bleaux (except I do find a sociological use for religion, if not any sort of practical use for it). I also agree with QS here and would like to add that sociological evolution of religion pretty much forces the idea that any long-surviving religion will have many self-preservation mechanisms, by definition. In fact, the less likely the belief, the stronger the self-preserving mechanisms are likely to be in any given culture.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • indogwetrust

      Its such shame that the majority wont realize this in my lifetime. Look at the Republicans in Texas. They are trying to stop schools from teaching critical thinking. They want kids to stop reasoning for themselves. Such a shame.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • iheartyou

      I agree with all of you ladies/gentlemen.
      I also see a sociological use for religion, if not a practical one. I have seen many people head right instead of left because of the fear of angering their sky god and not getting into Eternal Blissville. And I think that anything that would cause a person to be nice instead of mean has it's use on this planet. I understand that this is more due to fear than any respect or love of the sky deity. And I also understand that as much good as it may have done it's also done it's equal share (if not more) of bad. But the world is so f'd up right now that any tiny amount of good that can sprout up should never be stomped out. I highly respect those religious folks that just believe, live their own lives, don't try to oppress others or force their views on others, and just try to be good decent humans. There aren't many of them, but when I find them I'm always grateful.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  8. Jeremy

    Evangelicals believe that such tragedy is the result of the entrance of sin and evil into a universe wherein God created every person to live in fellowship with himself.

    Evangelicals divide over the debate of man's free-will and God's total sovereignty and control, as both are discussed in the Bible. Evangelicals certainly assert however that God cannot do evil, as he is just.

    The evangelical response to such tragedy can be summarized by the writings of Paul and Timothy in the book of Philippians. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

    Evangelicals believe that prayer affects change and helps the believer cope with grief. We can approach God with any emotion that we encounter. God can relate in a direct way, especially as he lived as a man. In fact, the book of Psalms is filled with various emotions as David and others prayed exactly what they felt to a God who was near to them and could affect change.

    My heart is filled with compassion for the community of Aurora, Colorado.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  9. Jeff

    the concept of a god or any other kind of a higher power serves as nothing more than a crutch for us people , like when one declares themselves being "cursed" when something goes wrong. think about it, when something exceptionally good happens to one of us that wasn't expected the first thing we say is usually "o thank god". consequently when something negative happens to us, we people usually curse or shake our fists towards the sky. as people we need to deal with the consequences of our actions and not attribute them to being predetermined or destined in any way from some form of higher power

    July 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  10. Terri Murphy

    People make choices, and people can not blame God for Choices they make. It was free will to go to the movies and free will to kill. The bad choice to kill is something god will deal with at Judgement.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      So the mother of the 6 year old choose to have her child die ? By going to the MOVIES???
      God - if you believe in that - is 100% responsible for this. He knew PRIOR to James Holmes being born that he would do this. HOW you say ? God is omniscient. AND he created James Holmes anyway. IF God is all knowing, free will is a myth.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  11. Joe

    Eating Donuts.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • iheartyou

      The maple kind?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • indogwetrust

      How did you know it was a maple bar. God and i like maple most. He told me.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • iheartyou

      Dog told me. And I trust in Dog. 😉

      July 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  12. Islam4fools

    God was trying to create another Mohammad so he could marry another 9 year old Aisha.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Observer

      Maybe God could kill virtually every person on the face of the earth like he did before when he only saved 8 people.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  13. doubleR

    God was on a coffee break.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  14. SteveN

    Where was god during the massacre? Probably about three rows back and in the center–the choice seats.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  15. Melinda

    In the Reformed tradition, God gives us free will here on earth. Remember the verse, "Jesus wept". He is with us when we suffer on earth. Just ask anyone with a strong faith how they get through the tough times. We are all the hands and feet of God and help each other. Those who don't see God working through those who help us aren't looking very hard.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • QS

      I'm an Atheist and I get through tough times relatively unscathed. I personally believe that those who NEED to believe in a god of some kind in order to cope with life are not mentally equipped to deal with reality, so they lean on the crutch of religion and all the fantasy it offers.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      I too am an atheist, but I believe Melinda has hit the nail on the head with respect to the best use of religion. It has offered a comfort to those who need comforting in many cases. It is a security blanket in a way, and quite benign when used as such. Now when it is used to condemn and control, that is when religion becomes bad news.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • QS

      Best use of religion? Still disagree. In my opinion, religion sets people up for a an exercise in futility by getting them to believe something blindly that, in my mind, detracts from their ability to learn and grow as a human.

      To me, there is no best use of religion.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • QS

      Best use of religion? I still disagree. In my opinion, religion sets people up for a an exercise in futility by getting them to believe something blindly that, in my mind, detracts from their ability to learn and grow as a human.

      To me, there is no best use of religion.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Hmm, QS, you have a good point, and one oft-quoted by the New Atheists, but I might tend to think that Dawkin's mind virus idea is quite interesting and has a good point. If true, then isn't it better to try and mold those with this virus to believe something benign and comforting, not harmful? However, in general I have to agree with you. In an ideal world, people would put facts and reason above faith and fiction.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  16. Michael

    God once again shouts out to us that man is incapable to rule man-submit to Him and come under his rule than rebelling to Him, ignoring Him, mock at Him...

    July 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • QS

      I don't know what I find funnier – conservative paranoia, or religious paranoia. Perhaps they're two sides of the same coin.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  17. L. Shupe (Missionary Evang.)

    My comment is in reply to "where was God in Aurora?"; My question is:
    Where were the Ministers who are/were supposed to be teaching God's word ??? The man (james Holmes), even though he
    was/is, a mass murderer. Is not the "cause", of his behaviour. That may sound startling, but stop and think a moment.
    This young man was a PHD; so what made him do this terrible thing?? Simply, brainwashing, and demon possession.
    Even though you may not believe in it, the man was under the influence of Satan,(Demonized), did you see the look on his face as he appeared in court ??
    Even he,(james Holmes) could not believe what he had done!. He was awakening to the fact that "SATAN"! had possessed
    his mind and used him to commit murder.
    Now, why did this happen ?? Simply because this country has turned its back on God; and chased him out of our lives.
    So, where was God ??? He was allowing this terrible thing to happen to awaken "YOU!:, (america), and see how far we
    have gotten into "E V I L !". God was simply saying, " okay you want to serve SATAN"?? Then look what he will do!!!.
    This country needs to "R E T U R N!!!" to god "ON ITS KNEES !!!". Thank you.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Oh dear, this missionary states his position. It appears L. Shupe would have been first in line with the torch to light the witches ablaze a few hundred years past to cleanse the evil from the community. This thinking is very scary.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Marine0323

      LS – You talk about being brainwashed? You are one frighteningly brainwashed and delusional human being. Please, put the Kool-Aid down.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Alex

      I have a simpler explanation – there is no God, and the shooter is psychotic.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  18. francis

    Get real people. God is an imagination of people who do not want to face the fact that this life ends. There is no god and there is no herafter. AMEN!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • DivideByZero

      amen

      July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  19. DivideByZero

    If there really was a God, he gave up and left a long time ago.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  20. Bill

    When someone, anyone, can prove to me with physical, solid proof, that there is a god, only then will I be convinced. Growing up I was taught there is God, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny etc.

    I've grown up since then, and am adult now.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Michael

      You-prove God's creation.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • QS

      I did always find it amusing that even the bible says that when you become a man you should put away childish things!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Jose Wilches

      when you prove to me that nothingness exploded and created the fine tuned, life permitting universe, then I will be convinced 😉
      Or you expect me to believe that by pure blind faith?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Observer

      Jose Wilches,

      But apparently you can believe that God was created out of nothing and then created the world out of nothing.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • lui

      Its right in front of your nose dude … did you ever look at the complexities of the human eye, why 2 pieces of metal stick together, magnetism, electricity, the fact that we need food and water just happens to "fall" out of the sky to make it grow. Look at it all under a microscope and try to explain it all without a creator.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:42 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.