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. Ricardo Williams

    I think there is a simple lesson in all of this. Do not loose sleep to see a Batman movie and when you do leave the kids at home please. One guy believed the Joker was his God and he acted like the Joker would, and unfortunately some innocent people who may have been Christians were fans of the Batman Movie, but probably should not have seen it on opening night. It's a case of Evil meeting Good. They're both fans that came to the same spot, but with different intentions.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • JP0

      Another loser who doesn't know the difference between lose and loose. If your bowels are loose you need to find a pot before you lose your load.

      July 26, 2012 at 12:54 am |
  2. John Metz

    What matters here is not the question of whether or not there is a living god who intervenes in human events. Rather, we should gasp in revulsion that some believers and non-believers alike could base their belief or doubts on what is, statistically, a relatively minor tragedy. Instead, ask yourselves, how many children died of starvation in the time it took you to read this reply. How many suffered from debilitating disease? How many enslaved?

    July 25, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  3. Oops

    I think this is bar none, the most comments I've ever seen for one article.


    July 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Rick James

      I agree. This is extraordinary.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  4. Jim K.

    First off, which god are we referring to? There are literally hundreds of them, all unverifiable. And why would any god only reveal himself to bronze-age uneducated nomads? If a real god wanted his commands to be followed, don't you think he/she/it would be unambiguous?

    Grow up children, and stop deceiving yourselves.

    Or are you afraid that without a god you would have to decide things for yourself?

    July 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Unknown

      I already do.Just because atheists claim to be "logical" doesn't mean you can read all of our minds.

      You sir or ma'am have NO logic at all.Proof posted in your own post.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Right-o, Jim K. The unambiguous test is the kicker, I think. I would imagine that if god existed and wanted to be known his principles would be at least as emergent as math or chemistry and his presence would be as obvious an undebateable as gravity or matter.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Unknown, way to ignore every question. For starters, which god?

      July 25, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  5. ArthurP

    "Liberals have made it impossible for God to be anywhere during the upbringing of a child."


    So the evil liberals must be very powerful as they can prevent God from entering the heart of a child. Not to mention shutting down all the churches and policing each and every household to prevent the parents form teach religion to their children. Oh wait, they can't. So blame some one else as it is clearly not your fault.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Phil

      Gee, I didn't realize I was preventing you from taking you kid to church or preaching to him everyday. Wow, what power I must have.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  6. Hogarth

    If heaven awaits the victims of murder, and hell their murderer, then why do we bother to punish the perpetrators on earth?

    July 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  7. mark

    I absolutely HATE religious people as they are the most responsible for all the hate,intolerance, divisiveness and ignorance in the world. the sooner you all die and put the world out of your misery the better.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Unknown

      You claim we are bad horrible people?Look at what you just posted.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Phil

      Hate is a strong word but I'll agree, religion is just a crutch for the stupid and ignorant (sorry Jesse Ventura, I just love the quote).

      July 25, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • inphinity9@yahoo.com

      People hate, mark. All kinds of people, religious or not. You, for example, are quite an example of how insidious hate is.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  8. Heber: God has been around all along...

    What society trends to do in general is to tell God with a lot of pride:" It is my life, I do with it as I want. No one will tell me what to do. I want freedom, I want choice, I want pleasure, I don't care about your opinion" However, when something goes wrong with life, we turn around and tell him: "How come you did not do anything?". We can not have it both ways.
    When we do with our life whatever we want we end up as slaves of sin. That is the reason why God opposes sin...even though as humans we think it is an important choice to have. One of the reasons he opposes sin so much is that sin makes humans selfish, cruel, violent, and in some cases terrible things, like the Aurora massacre happen.

    God has been around all along. However, if you examine the Bible, God sees life very different than most people do. First, the life we think it so much ours, God says it is something He gives..for a certain period of time. He is just when He gives it and he is just when we die. God however wants us to recognize our limited knowledge, our fragility, our limitations and our shortness of life in this world. When we understand this and we humble ourselves to seek God, we begin to understand the deceit of sin, at some point we repent. And then we begin to understand things we miss in the science lab and our philosophy class..things we can not prove with engineering measurements. We begin to understand that He can set us free from sin, that living for him and serving him is the greatest freedom a human being can aspire in life...even if we have to die for him. Then death is just an even that will bring us even closer to Him. Several religions are willing to kill for their religions. A true Christian will never raise his hand against person to defend his religion. A true christian will only be willing to die peaceful for his believes whenever God allows that to happen. That was the example left by Christ, the example many others followed, the one we all should follow. When we die to our desires and wishes, and we take on those of God, is when we find true life in this world and eternal life after our last breath.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  9. Bret M

    "Christ promises those who believe,something that no atheist here can comprehend."

    One would have to believe that Jesus actually existed to even begin to believe this statement.

    I am no expert in theology,but I do know that a large portion of the Christian belief system is ripped off from Pagans and believers in Horus and other imaginary friends people have had over the century's ,therefore not only do I not agree with this statement ,but challenge the assertion that the person you believe said it even existed

    July 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  10. Marilu Serrano

    God was there. Mr. Holmes' gun jammed. He regained a notion of conscience in the mist of what he just had done to warned the arresting officers that his apartment was rigged with explosives. Do I wish that more would see Jesus Christ as a Superstar, and remember His heroic sacrifice for others, as we remember the heroic sacrifice of the one who died saving the life of another and of those others who almost died trying to save the lives of other victims in that theater at Aurora, Co. I am a Catholic but I find that atheist, agnostics, doubters to be people of kind hearts who without realizing it live the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was quite an out spoken Jew who fearlessly spoke the truth; an unflinching critic of the entrenched religious powerful and elite of the Judaism of his time. And for that, for being seditious, he was hung on the cross. Why did God not stop Mr. Holmes? I don't know. But the number of dead could have been many more. But those who teach about God are failing us – with their rigidness, dogmatism, fear-mongering, demanding infantile-like obedience to church authority and dogma. 99% of what Jesus preached makes sense to me, but some things he speaks about, frankly, leave me wondering. But I know that He understands because he made me a thinking woman. I read about Jesus over and over and it brings tears to my eyes as the ultimate display of brotherly love and self sacrifice.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  11. Phil

    All these pontificators, spouting off as if anything about god or religion is fact. The truth is, NONE OF US knows if there is a supreme being until we die. So please stop spouting off made up facts from made up religions.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  12. Name*Hollis

    Everybody has their time here on earth and if you truly beleive in God then you know that death isnt just an end, its also a beginning. So we shouldnt fear death so much that when your time comes that you curse God or lose your faith in him. Everything happens for a reason and sometimes we can only see the bad but we hardly ever take the time to understand the whole picture of how God works. Now im not a super religious person but i do beleive in something much greater then all of us and I choose to call him God. I also beleive in free will. So you ask the question where was God in Aurora? Why didnt he save those 12 people if there is a God? Well ask that same question to the other 50 or so survivors in Aurora. Ask the hundreds that survived Sept 11, ask the thousands who survived the holocost, ask the hundreds of thousands who survived earthquakes,tornadoes,tsunamis,hurricans,accidents,cancer survivors, and war. Ask all those survivors where God was and i bet you they'll tell you he was right there with them. He was there giving that Father of 4 the strength to die protecting his children. He was there giving the will for complete strangers to give there lives to save another. He was there in each and everyone as our souls ached for the victums when we first heard of the shooting and he will be there giving the families the compassion to forgive, the guidance to heal and comfort from the memories in remembering their loved ones. Brothers and sister dont ever let the devil test your faith because without faith you have nothing.
    "Love is the cure".

    July 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  13. Hogarth

    God is an unnecessary adjunct to any serious discussion of morality. God is merely a cheap, shiny add-on, like the chrome dagmars on a 1955 Cadillac.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  14. Salero21

    God was where HE has always been and where HE will always be for all of Eternity; in HEAVEN.

    HEAVEN is where God is and God is in HEAVEN. Therefore HE cannot be blame for the consequences of man made laws. The end result of godlessness is the strongest argument for Godliness.

    The end of godlessness can only be brought about by Godliness.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      And the result of so-called "godliness" can be seen throughout the dark ages, current wars, past wars, inquisitions, witch trials, heresy laws, etc. Keep your version of godliness Salero, the place you take it from is too immoral and ambiguous for anyone with even a rudimentary foundation in moral systems and ethical behaviours to take seriously.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  15. Robertw

    I believe that God does not exist. If it did, then how would you explain Prehistoric animals that were never mentioned in the bible, or how God created Earth in 7 days, when we know for a fact that it took 4.5 Billion years. Life would not be what it is today if God had created it. End of Story

    July 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  16. Steve

    Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.

    So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

    Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.

    Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal. When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways.

    Ezekiel 33:1-20 KJV

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

      Steve, way to go, dumping uncommented bible quotes on us. Hey, try these on too:

      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 8:25 pm |
    • Mary Boyce

      Short version: God gave us free will. He will not take the monster's free will away and leave you with yours. This life is a test, and life after death is the true reality.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  17. paradisenow

    The same thing could be asked about all the freak tornadoes this year and the deaths of children from them...

    The fact is the WE are ALL guilty of what happened by building a society and culture based on Death. What is to be said of a mind that even dream up something like a gun? A gun has but one purpose and that is to kill. Some don't kill yet participate in producing emotional images of death, (movies/Batman), that amplify the downward vibration...

    The bigger question is, where does the thought of killing and designing and producing instruments of death come from? It has been said that "how we treat our animals, is how we treat each other".

    By producing and consuming the products of murder, (meat), we FALL from our original design into something that can only be described as sub-animal, a being that kills not to eat, but kills for the pleasure of it.

    Until we change the mechanics of "civilization", expect more of this to continue. Tell me how long McDonalds, backyard BBQ's, slaughter house and hunters roam and rule on this Earth, and I'll guarantee you the nightly news will be filled with senseless slaughter.

    To ALL so called God worshiping people, realize that we were planted here with the simple instructions, "Tend the Garden".

    We're doing a crappy job of it, and paying the price thus.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  18. Unknown

    Atheists attack Christians because they think it proof(what happened) God doesn't exist.

    I ask...where was humanity?

    July 25, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Bob

      I ask: where is your grammar?

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

      I think he means "think it IS proof"

      Atheists aren't attacking christians... we're attacking your narrative. It's a weak and baseless story full of hearsay and zero evidence. Don't take it personally. We still love you and hope you will find freedom from your addiction.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Well, genious, is humanity omnipotent, omnipresent, and all knowing, like god? Humanity was working, sleeping, surviving, fighting, dying, healing, etc. etc. all over the world. And running for their lives and saving loved ones in that theatre. That's where humanity was. What is your point?

      July 25, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Unknown

      Those who sit back and watch ARE the real reason it happens.People today only focus on themselves and how happy they want to be or the people they love.

      People care more about what celebs wear.If a child dies of starvation,hardly anyone cares anymore.Goes mainstream and burns out like it never happened.

      Atheists demand to know where was God? Humans act like a god.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Unknown, That really doesn't make sense. Why would atheists demand to know where something was that we don't believe exists?

      July 25, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
  19. .

    88 And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
    89 For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
    90 And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
    91 And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people. (Doctrine and Covenants, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 88)

    July 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  20. Bret M

    God was where he always is,in the imagination of people frightened of death,so much so that they readily accept lies handed down for century's.I understand the need to believe you will exist in complete happiness forever after you die as this world can be very cruel,but seriously stop believing in fairy tales and live the only life you are ever going to have,try to enjoy it whatever that means to you,but don't step on the toes of others.After that,take heart in the fact that you will be recycled.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Unknown

      I don't "fear" death as for a true believer,its nearly impossible.People "fear" death because they leave the people they love.

      Everything that can breathe dies.Christ promises those who believe,something that no atheist here can comprehend.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:26 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.