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. cinqo

    to Oops
    you are obvioulsly irrate because of my comments. you don't have to buy what i said, so stop harrassing me

    July 25, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Oops

      I'm not harassing you nor am I particularly irate. If you want to make a statement, be prepared to back it up. I'm just pointing out the flaw in your reasoning and you're getting all defensive. If you can't back up your own statements, that's not my problem.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      cin, you say that you don't see how someone can be mentally ill and still carry out elaborate plans. Such a belief shows a real lack of knowledge about mental illness. People who are mentally ill aren't stupid; mental illness has nothing to do with intelligence. Did you see the movie "A Beautiful Mind"? You should. Schizophrenia and other mental illnesses occur among people of all levels of intelligence.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  2. sonny

    You're right, hopefully someday I become as smart as you are one day, you seem to have it all figured out 😉

    July 25, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Awwww look at the cute little troll. You want a fish head little troll?

      July 25, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      sonny, when you actually learn something about evolution and the big bang theory, you might be able to argue your case. As it is, your description of both is beyond idiotic.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  3. rockman

    Imagine there was a police officer in the theater during the shooting, and he did nothing to intervene, and when he's asked afterwards replied, "Well, I believe in free will." People would be outraged with that cop. They'd want him fired. They'd want him jailed. They would rightly say he had egregiously neglected his duties. So why hold that officer to a higher standard than we hold an omnipotent, omniscient supreme being of the universe? Because there's no logical explanation for why a benevolent god would allow that to happen. Either god doesn't really exist, or he is capricious and cruel.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  4. sonny

    @The Ethical Pirate
    Good for you.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  5. sonny

    Oh I'm sorry, I didn't realize I was talking to the smartest person on earth and that everything they say is right and I'm wrong, please go on while I take notes !

    July 25, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      LOL, don't get mad when your own ignorance is pointed out. It isn't my fault you don't know what you're talking about.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  6. Tommy

    It was a horrible massacre but it can raise the question, where was He during the fires in Colorado, where was He when millions of people were dying of starvation in Africa, more controversial, where was He during the World Trade Center attacks? I was raised a Christian and was told that God has a plan for all of us but thru the years, I have begun to question this statement. I believe that a God exists to act as a "hope" for those who needs it, a sense of "love" for those who desire it, and a feeling of "strength" for those want it. Traditionally, I believe that God was there for each and every one of the victims and without him, more would have died. Personally, I believe that this was done by an evil man that did an evil thing. Evil is a proven brain function that everyone has in them. The difference: some recognize that evil within them and stop it and others allow it to fuel them. Case in point, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, terrorist cells, etc.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hi -Tommy...

      " I believe that God *was* there for each and every one of the victims and (without him), *more* would have died. " 😯

      I keep seeing this viewpoint from believers over and over again, and I just don't get it.

      How can you possibly conceive of a God this way ? Could he only handle and save so many because he was overwhelmed ?

      So, I guess it's not as bad for God and everyone else, as *only* 12 died.


      July 25, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  7. The Ethical Pirate

    God? Lets take a moment to think about the banality of evil. Evil doesn't just happen because god didn't save you. Evil happens because you are human, capable of both good and bad. The difference lies in what you plan on doing about it? Do you turn to your faith and ask why? Why not turn to society and ask why? If your faith leads you to action, to pro-activity, to solving issues in your life and in society, then great. However, simply asking god why is not enough.

    July 25, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Andrew

      my thoughts exactly

      July 25, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  8. dreamer96

    And the angle called morning star, was cast out of Heaven, and he took with him 1/3 of Heavens angles, and they all fell to earth where they used their powers to corrupt the hearts, and minds, of men, and promised them greatness, and took their souls...Why is the highest rank in the Masonic lodge called 33 nad 1/3 degree mason?...are they the 1/3 of heavens angles???

    July 25, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • plaster city

      What are you talking about?

      July 25, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • JP0

      Did you flunk geometry. Are you talking about right angles, acute angles or obtuse angles? Sounds pretty obtuse to me.

      July 26, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • QueensU

      You must really enjoy geometry. either that or you spelled "angel" wrong. I seriously cannot believe that lack of writing skills on these boards. It's terrible. For anyone who didn't learn it in grade 5:
      You're: You are, as in you are stupid
      Your: Possessive, as in your viewpoints are stupid.

      As a passive observer trying to kill some time, most of the horrible run-on sentences and grammar mistakes are made by the "God exists" crowd.

      July 26, 2012 at 12:42 am |
  9. sonny

    The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason what so ever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs.

    Makes perfect sense.

    July 25, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Awww how cute. You know, your preacher is not a reliable source for what other believe or don't believe.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Observer


      The belief that God was created out of nothing and then created the entire world out of nothing.

      Makes perfect sense to some.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • The Ethical Pirate

      Nice, I can also repeat things I read on the internet.....

      July 25, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • David

      What you described isn't atheism. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in a deity.

      We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. – Richard Dawkins

      July 25, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  10. cinqo

    to Oops
    that's not what i said or implied. i say if you knew how "some" (not all) mathematicians think, then you wouldn't be surprised that they are capable of violence on a huge scale. besides, having lived with a brother who is a mathematician, thereby allowing me to know how mathematicians view the rest of humanity, further reinforces what is already known publicly about their unique form of violence

    July 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Oops

      You're honestly not making any sense. In the short paragraph above you say that I got your paragraph all wrong. Fine, I may have misunderstood, however in the next sentence you say you know how *some* mathematicians think and how they are capable of committing this crime..... so are engineers, and actors and writers ad nauseum. Pointing out this guy is a "mathematician" in no way explains why this guy did what he did.

      Now, as for this last bit, "besides, having lived with a brother who is a mathematician, thereby allowing me to know how mathematicians view the rest of humanity, further reinforces what is already known publicly about their unique form of violence"

      Did you not point out that you only can say a statement like this about *SOME* mathematicians? Furthermore, having a brother who's a mathematician means nothing, I'm not sure why you believe having a connection with a specific type of person makes you an expert on all those people.

      What you're arguing is nonsensical and sort of pathetic.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  11. Misty

    Where Was God? Lucifer was running that show! Did you see anything God like in the movie, Dark, sinister, murder, violence.... so let's blame God

    July 25, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  12. John

    Watch this video to see where God was at Aurora. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lep9g4oQDnA

    July 25, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Cq

      First, the guy says that God orchestrated the fall of Adam in the Garden, according to his plan, but then he goes on to say that God just uses the evil already in the world for his purposes? OoooooKey!

      July 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  13. Mike

    Silly adults... God is for kids.

    July 25, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  14. cinqo

    to Rick James
    from your answer, you must be afilliated with mathematicians in some way. don't take it personal. and secondly, read my comments CAREFULLY before you jump to conclusions.

    July 25, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  15. Evan

    We need to stop rationalizing atrocities. Christians I'm looking straight at you. You take something like this and try to make sense of it to make you avoid the fact that evil people really do exist! We need to take this for what it really is. There is no "plan". This was a brutal killing by a disturbed person and we need to figure out ways of stopping this instead of just "oh god has a plan". It's up to us to help fix this problem. Get out of your bubble and realize that your plan isn't working.

    July 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  16. lee

    yeahalright i hope not because u r a nut

    July 25, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Hope not what? Try responding to the actual post instead of starting a new one. Sentences help too.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  17. lee

    h.h. u fine out one day that he exist

    July 25, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  18. cinqo

    i dpn't think this colorado killer was mentally ill: how can a crazy man assemble an elaborate booby trap?
    it's like i said before, you can find the answer to the killer's madness when you do your research on mathematicians. i'm not going to give away the answer. you do your research and draw your conclusion. the cinema killer is the son of a mathematician. the unabomber was a mathematician. my own bad-tempered brother is a mathematician. and i know a lot about how some of those mathematicians think. believe me the answer to why this holmes turned to violence lie you getting to know how mathematicians think.

    July 25, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Rick James

      Mathematicians are violent people? Oh boy....

      While I don't doubt that mathematicians think in a way from the way the average Joe thinks, I hardly think that they are violent. You're average idiot can be a lot more violent than a mathematician could be. It just looks like where a mathematician does violent, it looks thought out.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Oops

      Let me see if I understand you correctly

      Are you saying that what we might consider mentally ill is actually just a person who is inclined to think more like a mathematician and not mentally ill at all?

      I'm sorry but you're trying to use an apple to convince me that oranges taste good. The two aren't connected and using personal examples doesn't really back up your point.

      IMO this guy isn't mentally ill in the most clinical sense of the word, but he does have problems. This was well thought out enough that he was in complete control of his mental faculties before committing this crime. He could have a personality disorder or diagnosable narcissism.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Andrew

      As a senior majoring in mathematics and having studied the lives of quite a few interesting mathematicians, I do agree on the point that we, in studies involving logic, think differently than most. However, most mathematicians are struck by awe at how beautiful the world is and devote every part of our being into not only figuring it out but enjoying the process itself. The only person most mathematicians hurt, if they go down that road, is themselves.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  19. lee

    i never seen so many sick people leave a comment like today have faith there people who hurt inside they need prayed not your sick comment you losers

    July 25, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • yeahalright

      1. So you mean to tell me that victims' families are currently on here reading comments? Huh?
      2. Praying will accomplish what exactly? Make god more likely to help the victims' families? Was he gonna just chill and watch the game but upon hearing prayers decided to soothe their hurt? Is praying going to bring their kids back?

      Think. It can hurt at first. But it helps.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      And you, good sir, need to take a writing class.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  20. H.H

    If god did exist and is as kind and compassionate as others say he is, then he would not have allowed this to happen. The people that survived this atrocity survived because of either their intellect or pure luck. If a diety did intervene, then why didn't he save everyone else? If a diety did exist then why did he allow this to happen. As a society and race we must stop blaming the bad things on an imaginary figure and accept all of the good things for ourselves, we must learn to deal with both.

    July 25, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Unknown

      If atheists are better people,why didn't they stop this? How come atheists allow so much suffering but do nothing to help solve it?

      Non-belief does nothing and benfits no one.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Hey unknown, since when did athiests become omnipotent omniscient dieties??? Moron.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Whoever said atheists are necessarily "better"? And what measure are you using?

      July 25, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Unknown

      Never said that.Atheists claim atheism will help mankind and destroy war or any "bad" from happening.I want to know why atheists allow it but do NOTHING to help..

      The nothing part is the point.Atheists do nothing but claim God should do something when they also allow evil to happen?

      Messed up logic.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Congratulation on not answering the question.
      Without the claim that atheists MUST, necessarily, be better people, then you have no reason to criticise them for lack of action. Also, the question in terms of the whole "why god won't do anything" is because it does not fit with the characteristics of that particular god as presented.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Observer


      It's not atheists who claim there is some all-knowing all-powerful presence that could have stopped it but terribly failed.

      Get serious.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • BillyJ

      I think that the point is that believing in God doesn't make anyone better behaved than an atheist, or someone from another faith. Even Christian rhetoric states that it isn't a person's behavior that gets them into heaven, it's "being saved." Hell, even Hitler could have found God in the bunker before dying and could be happily watching the Jews he sent to the ovens continuing to burn right now. It's crazy, but that's how salvation on faith alone works.

      July 25, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Cq

      If we were talking about Superman, and not God, how would we view him if he saved some people while simply watching others that he could have easily saved die?

      July 25, 2012 at 9:34 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.