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. God

    If you keep ignoring the beauty in your surroundings and continue your search for a peaceful afterlife, you will miss all the wonder and mystery that is the universe and existence. The mystery of the universe is so much more magical than a father figure who is either apathetic, benevolent, or vengeful according to your personal beliefs. The concept of God is an example of human justification for their actions, and nothing else. Become accountable to yourself and your family, and push yourself to improve every day. Enjoy life.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Make everybody smoke Kush

      July 25, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  2. dangsthurt

    You hear all the survivors praising God for being saved. Therefore, it makes sens that those who died did not believe in God.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Gmck

      even the little 6 year old girl?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • kernilsanders

      that's just butt-hurt stupid.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  3. Observer

    God was busy peeking into bedrooms to see if gays were misbehaving.

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

      Yea. I think he's pis_ed about all the medical marijuana too.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  4. matreyia@yahoo.com

    Where was God? Same place He has always been in every tragedy or catastrophe...nowhere.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  5. KevinLA

    Why try to answer a question that can never be answered. Bad things happen all over the world all the time. It's dramatic when it happens to 12 people all at once as it did in this case but there are senseless murders happening all over. Think about the attrocities in places like Syria. I think when we see something like this in a white middle clase neighborhood it really gets people thinking. Personally I think we have both good and evil in the world so we'll see expamples of both. Nothing new – we see more of it now because there are more of us, we have more sophisticated weapons etc. We live in a country with over 300 million people so naturally every now and then someone will go off the deep and and do something like this. We have to expect it every so many years. Certainly it will happen again – probably at the hands of a young troubled male in his late teens to early 40's. If you believe in a god, by now you need to realize that god does not prevent bad things from happening. The abscence of evil is probably what most people call heaven. we're not there.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  6. Hawkeye

    “When you argue against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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

      "Logic is the beginning of wisdom"

      What's your point Hawkeye?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • kernilsanders

      hawkeye is god. he did not intervene because he was busy looking up c.s.lewis quotes.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  7. B33TLE

    Where was God when these people died? The same place He was when His Son died. We grieve. He grieved.
    But then, God's Son fulfilled God's plan. Whether you believe it or not.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Gmck

      your god is all knowing all powerful and did nothing but "grieve"??? Sounds like a worthless wimp to me

      July 25, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • kernilsanders

      Goes does not exist. Whether you believe it or not.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  8. Jim lynch

    This great country was founded on the freedom of religion and the way this great country is going to fall is the way people are taking God out of this country. I find it sad for those who believe that this world just came to be and so did all human and animal life. Does a great painting, poem or song just happen or did some person create it, of course a person created it. Just as this world was created by God. For you that think it is Gods responsibility to stop all evil I say to you God did not put any evil people on this earth, it is our own thoughts that make people do evil things.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • bob

      I find it sad that your inept brain is incapable of such complex thought. You answer a complicated question with a simple answer.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • kernilsanders

      Jim, who is responsible for natural disasters? the starving children in africa? disease? and yes evil people? do you not believe god created mankind? if so then you believe he also is the author of evil. and if you try to weasel out of that thought and invoke "free will"... not so fast.... did god not have foreknowledge? is our free will outside of his control (thus making god not sovereign?) pick your poison Jim. god doesn't get a free pass....

      July 25, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  9. Jeff

    Give it a rest. There is no god.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • kernilsanders

      survey says..... that is the correct answer.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  10. Steven Brown

    People who expect God to intervene and stop bullets in their trajectories don't understand that the material universe operates according to laws of physics that are consistent and not subject to the will of God, which finds its expression in human consciousness, decisions, and actions. James Holmes chose to defy the idea of God, and in so doing, embraced evil and became its instrument. What happened at the movie theater in Aurora was nothing less than a struggle between good and evil. It is regrettable that good was not as well armed as evil at that time and place. However, evil shall be dealt justice, possibly the death penalty. It is also regrettable that executing James Holmes will not resurrect his victims.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • B33TLE

      And who established those immutable laws of physics? Who created the universe and all the matter, antimatter and other matter in it?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Steven Brown

      The Creator did, but it is unrealistic to expect the creator to suspend the laws of physics in order to prevent harm to a living being.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  11. Hawkeye

    “I gave in, and admitted that God was God.”
    ― C.S. Lewis

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

      i gave in and ate the burrito.
      – Jesus Hernandez

      July 25, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  12. NotaTroll

    Is it me or are 80% of the stories here are just massive Troll Bait?

    July 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  13. One one

    I shall now pray. Dear heavenly father, I give thanks for killing your son to end the eternal curse of your wrath & vengeance you put upon me because, in the beginning, two people wanted knowledge. Unlike the unsaved godless trash who deserve to burn, I do not seek knowledge. I seek only your approval by submitting to your absurd, conflicting, and egotistical demands. And though you never show yourself, I believe in you, for if I have thoughts of doubt, you will send me to hell to burn forever… because, although you love me, you hate my thoughts. Amen.

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

      You are forgiven

      July 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  14. CAROL

    This happened because people in the use to be the christian nation , the United States is going to hell in a hand basket. No God didn,t make this happen but he let it happen. If this country don,t turn back to God we have seen anything to what is going to happen. People who don,t believe in God needs to read his word and then they would understand why these thing,s are going on in this country today. God is still in control no matter what some may think.

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


      So God is still in control and let 70 innocent people be shot and a dozen killed.

      Nice guy.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Well I'm glad they ended Christian slavery

      July 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  15. JupiterMaximus

    Mohammad my child, don't bother yourself with these useless worries. Your people are as insignificant to my self and family as all people that now live, will live and ever lived. We do not grant anything to you in death. Sleep well child.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  16. Hawkeye

    “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    July 25, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  17. Stephen

    Let us assume that there is NO God, does that make the shootings make ANY more sense? Do the horrors which mankind inflicts upon one another somehow seem ANY more logical or sensible, or even more justified? You describe those with faith in some invisible person who watches over any thing and everyone as being un-informed or foolish. Well, without God, what do you have? Do you believe soley in the wickedness of men since that seems to be what is more prevelant in the world? If God and his goodness is made up, then Hell, I like it better than this real world anyway.

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

      Stephen my child, these acts you humans do upon each other are completely part of your nature. We care not about your fates. You are only here for our transgressions as all the life we have dominion over.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • One one

      Many people prefer to live in a fantasy world in their minds instead of reality.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      @jup.,you can't have my kush

      July 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  18. Jim Wright

    Evil is a lack of empathy for your fellow man. We call people devoid of empathy psychopaths. The greatest good is to love your brother as yourself. The point of our journey on this earth is to be exposed to both good and evil and to make a choice with respect to our own behavior. That journey necessarily involves hardship and heartache.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Doesn't Matter

      Why does everybody argue about something that when it really boils down to.....NO ONE KNOWS! Bad things happen to good people all the time. All you can do is learn from the experience. It was a horrible incident and I feel so sorry for not only the people who had to experience it but for everybody else in the world who experience horrible situations. Life is suffering, but it also has enjoyable times as well. We are asking and debating a question that the probability of it being answered is almost nil. If everybody wants to do something worthwhile today.....go home and love your family.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  19. Viral

    Only in a godless world, without endless worship and respect to feared and so called divine authority, can we fully focus on creating a better world where human decency is not praised on occasion but to be expected.

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

      Viral, I couldn't agree more.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  20. terri

    The sickness and pain and death that we see give a small glimpse of the results of a planet without God. Life on earth is everyone's opportunity to pursue a knowledge of God (and make the choice to either follow God and go to a perfect place or make do with life as we know it then go to hell). The Bible says that we must pursue truth with the same vigor that we would expend in search of gold or silver.

    If life on earth were perfect, there would be no purpose in seeking something better.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      So why do you deny truth absolute in your hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism labeled as Christianity.

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

      Translation: BELIEVE OR BURN !!!

      July 25, 2012 at 7:28 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. an insult to truth absolute.

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

      Actually, terri the sickness and pain and death that we see is a direct result of the fact that there is no god. The universe is not cruel; it's just completely indifferent to our plight. Man created god.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:32 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.