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. Ting


    July 25, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Chuck

      Four Billion people on earth believe in God, that is undeniable proof he exists


      July 25, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Gabriel

      Then why did He post at 6:56 PM? Scroll down please.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Roger


      Argument ad populum-

      July 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Chuck


      thats exactliy what Atheists do

      July 25, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • trav

      only about 3% actually serve him. so...the most wont ever see heaven

      July 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  2. Jacob D

    All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
    Mark 13:13

    July 25, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  3. ZEN

    Have Compassion and Love ,don't ask why

    If you ask God: He has a plan for everyone

    If you ask the buddha, he will say it's Karma

    If you ask Allah, he will say he will decide your fate

    July 25, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  4. David Renzi

    Assuming the existence of the christian god, allegedly omniscient and omnipresent, we are left to conclude in the wake of such events that the deity is unwilling or unable to interfere, in which case he is sadistic or incompetent.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • fastica

      People, remember that this killer was raised in a family that went to church every Sunday.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  5. Skip

    God cannot stop man's free will.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Ting

      So much for omnipotent.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Roger

      Romans 9:14 "What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

      “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
      and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[f]
      16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[g] 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden."

      So, according to scripture, you are mistaken.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  6. Gloria E Torres

    I don't have the time to teach a lesson on Apologetics (legal defense of the GOSPEL). Firstly, in order to believe there is a God you must experience Him. Many here have chosen to "not believe." That is fine. God gave you free will, that's your choice. But I resent the disparaging remarks. I am a believer and have experienced God on many occasions. God is
    Spirit and those that worship Him must worship Him in Spirt and Truth. We all have the nephesh (spirit of God in us – which allows us to reason, conscience There is a moral law written in your heart–you know that. You know that if you do certain things that you are going to feel guilty about those things.). You ask where God was? He is sitting on His throne. The Holy Spirit is the administrator of the New Covenant....meaning God has extended grace upon grace, upon grace to all. Ask rather where was the Holy Spirit? A little theology here: There are 3 persons in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together as One, the Truine God. Maybe if some of you took the time to know Him and Worship Him you will get to know Him. He is love, grace, mercy and truth. He had nothing to do with this evil act. This was pure evil. Yes, Evil exists- he is the god of this world (and we have given him free rein with our unbelief– the devil himself). We live in a fallen world and Jesus said in this world you will have tribulation, but I have overcome the world. (and don't tell me I am quoting scripture). You must understand the exegete of the word of God and then post your rebuttals. Here is something to ponder: "There are only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility. Spontaneous generation, that life arose from non-living matter was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others. That leaves us with the only possible conclusion that life arose as a supernatural creative act of God which is ex-nihilo (out of nothing). I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore, I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible; spontaneous generation arising to evolution." Wald, George, "Innovation and Biology," Scientific American, Vol. 199, Sept. 1958, p. 100

    THIS IS PRECISELY WHAT MANY OF YOU ARE SAYING: YOU CHOOSE TO BELIEVE IN THAT WHICH IS SCIENTIFIC. WE DON'T HAVE THE ANSWERS TO WHY? BUT JUST AS THIS TRAGEDY OCCURRED, I CAN GIVE YOU 1000s of miracles that have happened all over the world where GOD/HOLY SPIRIT was present. The rifle jammed......could have been God right there. Many survived. May the Lord bless you and bring you to a revelation of His divine grace.

    To all you unbelievers I recommend "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • yeahalright

      And were you born in a Hindu nation or a Muslim nation or in ancient Greece thousands of years ago, you'd have an equally unreadable (seriously, paragraphs) defense of that religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Roger

      According to scripture no such free will exists. See Romans 9:10-21. For someone so often quoted as Josh McDowel you'd think he would have actually read the Bible.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  7. Jeri

    My response is to "religion" editor – Dan Gilgoff. What are you thinking!! You are a unprofessional jerk. We call this SENSATIONAL JOURNALISM!!! Did you go to college? Then you should know better. How dare you use a horrific tragedy to spark a story. I feel sorry for you – You will be held accountable for your actions.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • kernilsanders

      Why do you weep for me? I don't believe in god, not because I don't want him to exist, or i want to "deny" him, but simply because there is no evidence for his existence, and even more to the point, plenty of counter evidence (i.e. evidence against the idea of the Christian God). Read the Bible.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  8. kernilsanders

    God is not real. I was a Christian for 40 years before realizing this. Now it is so blatantly obvious to me, I don't know how I could have ever thought otherwise. I suppose I can just chalk it up to indoctrination as a child. I, along with the overwhelming majority of Christians (as well as believers in other religions) are indoctrinated into the deity of our parents before we lack any critical thinking skills. Most of us never escape that childhood indoctrination. Finally realizing there is no God for me was like being unplugged from the matrix and seeing reality for what it is for the very first time. Then when events like this happen, they aren't very hard to explain, are they? The universe is cold and indifferent to our plight. This may not be comforting, but it is true. BTW, just because an idea is comforting, that doesn't make it true. Do a thought experiment for a moment where you imagine what the world would be like if there was no god. You'll find that you already live there.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • erick

      awesome post.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Jeri

      Dear Kernilsanders,
      I read your post and wept. I do believe we are in the final days as written in the book of Revelations. So many things make sense now – I couldn't even imagine it 10 years ago and yet the puzzle is coming together. If you truly accepted Christ then the Holy Spirit lives within you. Regardless of how you try to deny Christ. Please don't misunderstand my writing. I am not trying to convict, blame or judge you. But simply to offer you hope. I am sorry you are hurting.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • trav

      40 years of waste. You never were saved then or wasted it. Repentance is your only hope

      July 25, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • kernilsanders

      trav. yes you are right. it was 40 wasted years.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • JP0

      @Jeri: In case of Rapture can I have your car?

      July 26, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  9. justme

    Harleyxx has it right so go to J W.org to learn more

    July 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  10. mike

    At the end of the Lord's prayer it goes like this
    "and lead us not into temptation,
    and deliver us from evil. Amen."
    So, from that I guess we can conclude that Jesus
    knew of evil and what happens in the real world.
    Get used to it and pray that it does not happen to you.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  11. Hawkeye

    “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
    ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    July 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • yeahalright

      This proves god exists how??? Simply because you cannot imagine moral good without god having commanded it??? Your mental limitations don't prove the existence of god, sorry.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  12. Chuck

    Well we know where Satan was!!!!

    July 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  13. Fairy Tales

    @GOD DOES NOT EXIST since God doesn't exist its because you don't exist. I WIN!

    July 25, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Dj

      God will be exalted by will or Force..Supernatural or spiritual!

      July 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  14. trav

    Sure is alot of anti-God peeps here.
    They have no moral standards.
    They do what they think is right.
    They can't stand truth.
    they argue God does not exist.
    Atheism is a crutch for those who cannot bear the reality of God. - Tom Stoppard
    If there were no God, there would be no atheists. –G.K. Chesterton
    To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, "I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge" –Ravi Zacharias
    I believe in God as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. –C. S. Lewis

    OK..C.S. Lewis was the biggest athiest until he realized he knew nothing and their must be a God. Many are like him, they just refuse to admit it.

    No man can debate proof God does not exist.
    All comments are futile against God.
    You choice to respond foolishly or not.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Roger

      Moral standards can be had by anyone that can think, no God required. Read a book that doesn't come from the Christian bookstore for a change. No proof can be used to disprove The invisible flying purple ferret, does that mean it exists? What about Zeus? Thor? Baal? Vishnu? Vampires? Dragons? Fairy's? Sasquach? Just because you can't disprove something doesn't mean it's reasonable to believe it exits.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Ben Hoffman

      It doesn't matter whether or not God is real. What matters is how the idea of God (and in this sense, the Christian one) functions in our society. God functions as a benefits package in exchange for one's faith and one's fear. What I mean by faith is that one who believes in God uses God to get over bad times ("it was all part of God's plan") and to confirm good times ("I owe all my thanks to the Lord"). What I mean by fear is that the most under debated aspect of Christianity is that of heaven and everlasting life. If you do believe in God, ask yourself this: If heaven wasn't part of the deal, if you lived your life by The Bible but knew you would not get anything out of it at the end, that nothing happened when you died, that you just thought it was a great framework on how to base your life (even though other religions still maintained an afterlife) would you still believe? Most Christians that I've asked had to consider that question way too long for me to believe there worship is only for personal gain. How true are you?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • yeahalright

      God God Goddygodgod, ergo, you're wrong.

      That about sums up your "argument."

      July 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • trav


      all know your choice..

      July 25, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • kernilsanders

      god is not real.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  15. TG in Columbus, Ohip

    Where was god?
    Not there. Not anywhere. Never has been, Never will be. Get a grip on the fact that
    this is it. It's our one chance. No eternity in heaven. No bbq in hell. Learn to deal with tragedy as it is. Grieve, make the best of an honorable life, accept the finiteness of our existence.
    Believe in yourself and call it quits when the time comes.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  16. QuestionEverything

    Which is it Christians? Are we a majority christian country founded upon christian principals or is christianity the abused minority that you claim to be? You can't have it both ways even though you speak out of both sides of your mouth. I would argue we've already adopted christian principals and what we've seen over the past 100 years is a culmination of your ways. I think it's time to give all religions a boot.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  17. Carlos Simones

    I stopped attending church in my mid teens because I realized that pastors and priests talk a lot, but much of what they say isn't based on the Bible. You can see clearly from the posts made on Twitter by the clergy that nothing has changed. The changing point in my life was when Jehovah's Witnesses answered my questions, including 'why does God permit suffering' with my own Bible that I had sitting in my room. Here's an example: Ezequiel 18:23 says: "Do I take any delight at all in the death of someone wicked,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘[and] not in that he should turn back from his ways and actually keep living?’
    It is clear from this text that God takes no delight in the death of anyone, rather, he prefers that wicked persons turn from their evil ways. But two verses later in verse 25 the God of the universe answers the question as to why we experience this kind of pain and suffering: "“‘And YOU people will certainly say: “The way of Jehovah* is not adjusted right.” Hear, please, O house of Israel. Is not my own way adjusted right? Are not the ways of YOU people not adjusted right?"
    As a society, our moral, religious and intellectual instruction does not take God into account, a clear recipe for many social tragedies. Yet somehow we want God to step in and make things work when we aren't doing things the right way. It's as Proverbs 19:3 says: "It is the foolishness of an earthling man that distorts his way, and so his heart becomes enraged against Jehovah himself".
    We can't treat the sovereign ruler of the Universe as some kind of Paramedic to run to our rescue in spite of our social policies that directly contradict his laws. God has allowed thousands of years to pass to demonstrate clearly how much we need his moral guidance, that we can't do it on our own, and the time is near when he will declare his point as proven and reign in all evil. During that time, all of our dead loved ones who are in God's memory will be brought back to life, and all the suffering we are going through now will be a mere faded memory. (Revelation 21:3,4)
    Next time Jehovah's Witnesses come to your door, ask them to explain more using the Bible, it is very logical and very comforting.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  18. oregano

    My response is to the people who said this happened because we have taken God out of schools, etc. That is nothing but a bunch of crap. You can pray in your head all day in school, at work or wherever. No one has taken anything away from you. What has and should happen is those of us who do not pray to a "Christian" God, which so many think is the "only" God, should not be held hostage by having open prayer in public schools or public government meetings. I guarantee you if it were Muslims who were asking to have this type of prayer, all the Christians would be against it. The entire world is NOT Christian so get over it. God is whatever God is to you. Jesus is not the God for everyone, and those who are not believers will not be going to hell.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  19. TG in Columbus, Ohip

    Where was god?
    Not there. Not anywhere. Never has been, Never will be. Get a grip on the fact that
    this is it. It's our one chance. No eternity in heaven. No bbq in hell. Learn to deal with tragedy as it is. Grieve, make the best of an honorable life, accept the finiteness of our existence.
    Believe in yourself and call it quits when the time comes.
    is, grieve, and move on.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • A Hug

      You need a hug, huh? Anyone wants to give him a hug? ANYONE?!?!!

      Since no one wants to give you a hug, cause you don't exist either.

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

    “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning...”
    ― C.S. Lewis

    July 25, 2012 at 7:17 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.

      -Thomas Jefferson

      July 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      hindu, pagan trinity is nothing but hinduism, absurdity of hindu's, crooks, 360*, truth absolute/2=o.5. 0.5/3=1.666, sign of devil.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • kernilsanders

      I keep seeing all these C.S. Lewis quotes. I thought CS Lewis was a really intelligent guy. Seeing these quotes (one non sequitur after another), I can see I was wrong. C.S. Lewis was a moron.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:29 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.