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. Donna

    God was where it always was, in the imagination of the brainwashed masses.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • KRC

      EVEN if "god" existed, the rational course of human interaction with themselves & others should be that "god" doesn"t exist.
      That levels the playin field & removes a VERY sticky obstacle that seems to create a LOT of problems in the reality of this world! If you believe in "god", fine! Just don't push your beliefs on anyone else, or USE those beliefs to denigrate or ostracize others!

      July 25, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  2. funmuffin

    god does not exist. period. its just human insanity. stop pointing fingers instead if looking at the reality, not " truth" because no one holds the truth. not even god.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • georgex

      On some questions science gets closest to the truth.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  3. KRMRP

    It is sad, if only "teachers of God" used God's word, people would have comfort and all of there questions would be answered... These are just a few scriptures...
    (2 Timothy 3:1-7) 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. 6 For from these arise those men who slyly work their way into households and lead as their captives weak women loaded down with sins, led by various desires, 7 always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.
    (2 Timothy 3:13) But wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.
    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!(Job 34:12) Yes, for a fact, God himself does not act wickedly, And the Almighty himself does not pervert judgment.
    (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.”
    (Psalm 37:9-11) For evildoers themselves will be cut off, But those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth. 10 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.
    (Psalm 37:29) The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it.
    This is NOT God's Will, not what he purposed.
    (Revelation 12:7-9) And war broke out in heaven: Mi′cha·el and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled 8 but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. 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.”
    Matthew 24:14

    July 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Bob

      While you are dumping bible quotes on us, why not get into the nasty bits too, since there are so many of them in the Christian book of horrors. Fine stuff like this, both OT and NT:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • KRC

      Excellent post Bob! That pretty much encapsulates the "depravity" of the Bible very clearly!
      This was VERY CLEARLY not a text writtten "by god", or even by "god-inspired scribes", this was written by pyschopaths who might be on the same level as Mr.Holmes!

      July 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  4. GOD

    Sorry everyone! I would have intervened but the O'Reilly Factor was on.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not really that funny chief.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  5. georgex

    The Internet allows many doubters to express their views here as we become a more open society. There are organizations for non-believers such as http://www.secular.org that have meetings and interesting projects.
    Personally, I don't think we can blame God for these killings anymore than we should give him credit for the survivors. He seems to stay out of almost every human event.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • KRC

      HMMMM! i would very certainly agree that "he" seems to stay out of every human event!
      Given that, how would you KNOW that "he" even exists at all?

      July 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  6. Hawkeye

    If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshiped.
    Evelyn Underhill

    July 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • kernilsanders

      You can put a cat in the oven, but that don't make it a biscuit.
      – H. Ross Perot.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  7. Hawkeye

    Someone once said that if you sat a million monkeys at a million typewriters for a million years, one of them would eventually type out all of Hamlet by chance. But when we find the text of Hamlet, we don't wonder whether it came from chance and monkeys. Why then does the atheist use that incredibly improbable explanation for the universe? Clearly, because it is his only chance of remaining an atheist. At this point we need a psychological explanation of the atheist rather than a logical explanation of the universe.
    Peter Kreeft

    July 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • KRC

      Just waiting for your "logical" explanation for the universe, should be spell-binding!

      July 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • kernilsanders

      Someone once said that if you sat a million hawkeyes at a million typewriters for a million years, one of them would eventually type out all of Hamlet by chance. But when we find the text of Hamlet, we don't wonder whether it came from chance and hawkeyes, cuz hawkeye is dumb as a stump.
      – Clarence Thomas.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  8. Paul Falduto

    What happened in Aurora is not any type of proof of the existence or non-existence of god. I don't believe in a god because I see no evidence of one. Others do. What happened here doesn't change my view or bolster it in any way and I don't see why it would influence the view of believer either.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • KRC

      Paul, I completely agree! What is it that certain people NEED to bring the "intentions of god" into this?
      THERE ARE NO INTENTIONS or PLANS. Human beings are irrational, and sometimes WAY irrational, and it is unfortunate that innocent people get hurt.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  9. Greaser

    God was recieving a "hot carl" at the time of the shooting in question. Amen.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      You know us ignorant people will Google Hot Carl straight away.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  10. Carby

    Were it not for GOD I would not be here. He has answered so many of my prayers. Life is a struggle, I have my ups and downs, but my faith in Him never fades – and it never will......he is on my side.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Greaser

      Of cause god is a man. Women are inferior.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Dave Newman

      Well he might exist but he sure was on the sidelines here...

      July 25, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • KRC

      You have a "belief" in something greater than you that keeps you on the track that "you" decide. I don't have any problem with that! So long as you are happy with it, then it doesn't affect me whatsoever!
      Of course, if you were to start knocking on my door, or calling on the phone to express your "beliefs" THEN we have a problem!

      July 25, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  11. Brian

    Religious people don't understand how to determine what is real. They blindly submit themselves to the guidance of dubious "authority" figures, assuming that if such a person simply declares something as true, then it must be.

    They look at what other people are doing and mindlessly copy them, figuring that the other people must have good reasons for acting that way. They don't bother researching, testing, proving, or questioning everything they think is true.

    Is it laziness, not wanting to do the mental work? Is it a lack of critical thinking skills? Is it an emotional self-delusional attempt to block out the unpleasant aspects of reality? Are so many people just naturally gullible?

    July 25, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Gabriel

      Take your apparently brilliant grasp of critical thinking and then apply it to my post at 6:56 PM.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Brian

      "Gabriel" – so your round-about claim is that YOU are a conduit of your fake "God"s will. As I said, you are simply declaring things as true assuming that it's convincing. To gullible people, it might be. To me, NEVER!

      July 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • KRC

      Thank you, Brian – could not have said it better!

      July 25, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  12. Donna

    In any tragedy,being one or more, people have a need to blame someone in some cases blaming the killer is not enough, they feel that god is to blame, that he has failed us, that he was not there, i will not try to pretend that i know everything but a long time ago for reasons of my own i learned that trusting in god takes you where so many of us do not want to go, it is not as simple as saying god will be there every time to make all turn out well, it is the trust in the promise that we will go to heaven if we believe if all does not turn out as we want. free will is the way we were made, or we would only be doing what god wanted without a choice, we would have only one church, one school, one way of eating , one way of living , there would be no choice in cars , clothes, things we do not need, it would be the prefect world with no illness, no evil. But i still want to live and try to get it right, you see we can if we just stop and think about it and stop blaming god and start with our self's to make this world a better place. Before you leave your home each day or night reach out with love, take a moment to say i love you, tell your family there great , read to your children, play with them, be great full for everyday we have, let us help each other get through the bad times and the good let us pray that we can get it right..

    July 25, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • KRC

      Better yet – let us leave "god" out of the equation altogther, since it just doesn't make sense! What happens, happens! Live with it!

      July 25, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  13. spanishclass

    The world isn't a nice place. The world hasn't been a nice place, and unless there's some overnight miracle the world will continue to be a not nice place. I think religion was put into place in order to control populaces under the guise of a powerful all-knowing being. However, even though there may in-fact be no such thing as a god there are many positive aspects of religion as a control. The problem is that religions were designed to control uninformed masses, and now in the digital media age it's way too easy to become at least somewhat informed about a particular issue. The historical religious control measures are no longer valid. Christianity particularly is struggling to find innovative ways to reinvigorate their followers. At the same time people are able to see the more the world than ever before....from their living rooms. People can see that: A) the world isn't really a nice place, B) Other people clearly believe strongly in other religions, C) Science can explain a lot in tangible terms (i.e., there's no reason to just blindly believe things).

    I don't know if a god exists, I do know that the argument of "innocent people shouldn't die" isn't a valid one. History has millions–probably even billions–of examples of people who were killed "unjustly". Stop looking at the world through rose tinted glasses, bad things are going to happen, if we can accept them as part of reality then we'll be able to confront them instead of sitting silently and hoping that they don't occur again.

    Lastly, I'm not a very religious person. I have served my country honorably in multiple combat zones and it wasn't always good times. I'm here to tell you that–religious or not–when you truly don't know if today will be your last day you will find yourself praying to something. There are no atheists in foxholes.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      You are a f.ucking idiot.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • KRC

      Very good post, except for your last comment! The athesist accepts the reality of the situation! There is NO "praying to god" at the last moment! That is a clearly futile excercise!

      July 25, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  14. KRC

    This event is the result of "typical" human abberration & has NOTHING to do with "god". Nor does it have anything to do with some structured "evil" that is supposed to exist. We classify things as good or evil OURSELVES, from values derived from our evolutionary heritage.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  15. Jason

    As Ravi Zacharias says, "God was everywhere everyone asked him to be". Sure Holmes acted crazy but this doesn't say anything about God's character. Afterall, if God provides everyone with freedom of the will, then how can God MAKE someone do something freely ? In fact I'm willing to bet that god is with the family is of the victims and is with the people who survived.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      And what about the free will of the 12 dead, or the others injured? Is the free will of the killer more important than the free will of those who died?

      July 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • KRC

      hawaiiguest, free will is free will. The unfortunate victims had the free will to be in that theater at that time. Probably not the best choice, but hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      So obviously freewill taken away from humans by other humans isn't something to really stop for god. It is unnecessary suffering, and is at the root of arguments against a benevolent god.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Not to mention you just got dangerously close to saying that it's the dead peoples fault for choosing to go see that particular movie at that time. Not to mention the girl who got shot through the wall of the theater the guy was in, to the next theater.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  16. Chip Fields

    150,000 people die every day....150,012 die, and suddenly you ask where is God

    July 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • KRC

      That is quite a good post! Coincidentally, I read of some other mishap recently in which MORE than 12 people died! Barely made the news! Plus I can't even remember the details!
      People dying happens everyday & will continue as the "conveyor belt" of life continues. Assigning a "higher" degree of significance to a pyscho killer over a heart-attack is really kind of silly.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  17. Salero21


    Wrong question asked, at the wrong time, at the wrong place and to the wrong crowd.

    An Idolatrous nation under the judgment of God.

    Man made Laws that go against nature, against common sense, against all reason and logic. Laws that go against God, against the victims of crime and in favor of the criminals are bound to create this situations.

    I suggest a better question: How and why someone anyone who is NOT even in Law enforcement or the Military is able to obtain weapons and gear that originally were designed and intended for the Military and Law enforcement personnel?

    July 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  18. genp

    Actually God did help because his gun jammed, it could've been a lot worse. Don't forget God is always battling evil so it takes time to prevail against it. We weren't promised anything in this world, only in the next......

    July 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Wow!

      Idiotic response. If god is all knowing, then he knew about the shooting well in advance. If he is everywhere all the time (as religious apologists assert), your response has gone from idiotic to pure insanity.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • genp

      I know for sure no crime is His plan, perhaps people not believing anything now is causing them to lose it, no hope, so the littlest difficulty in life and they loose it......

      July 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • KRC

      SO – "god" caused his gun to jam? WHY didn't "god" just command the gun to NOT FIRE at all? This stuff gets SO looney that it is WAY beyond arguing with any logic.
      LOOK, this was a tragic event, there was NO "god" involved with it whatsoever! The victims were in the wrong place at the wrong time, as happens with MANY deaths across our vast nation!

      July 25, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  19. Annie

    Why does God get blamed for everything? Why not blame buddah? He never gets blamed for anything.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • KRC

      IT COULD be that the "christian" god has an AWFUL lot of baggage in the bible that makes "him" look really bad!

      July 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  20. Bob

    To quote one friend: "The same place he was during the Holocaust."
    To quote another friend: "God works in mysterious ways, but he has a plan!"

    July 25, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, secular s and hindu, criminal Nazi are blood brothers, believer of nothing else but hinduism, racism by faith.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:12 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.