home
RSS
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:

Lenny
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.

Kyle
"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:

Harleyxx
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. ortagasax

    Ok this is ridiculous, God gave man freewill and let us at it. Because you cannot explain multiple religions that run in parallel yet it's believers systematically kill each other for retarded and inane reasons. For those of you who say it was Gods will, if this murder were to say that it was gods will, ya'll would decry him as blasphemous or evil. Yet you sit here and say it was gods will? Bull****. This isn't god, allah, yaweh, etc, this is all man, acting on his inherent right to freewill. Man was made, and left alone and we've done a good job of killing each other the years that followed. You want to blame liberals? then what about those killing abortion doctors... wait no let me guess it was in gods will, and the suicide bombers were in allahs will which would be in gods will so american soldiers dying is part of gods will, abortion doctors is part of gods will, priests molesting children is part of gods will. Oh wait no these things are the work of satan... but here is 1 question, if God is all powerful then why would he make Satan his equal? His equal to have claim on the actions and souls of humans.

    So no I don't believe God/Allah/Yahweh had anything to do with this, I don't think he's had anything to do with the lives of man for a very long time. We were made and left to our own devices and everything that has happened since, has been solely our own doing. So don't say this is Gods work or doing, this is simply man, no more no less. It could even be said God hasn't existed in the decisions of man for a very long time.

    July 26, 2012 at 4:18 am |
    • GG Allin

      Satan gave us free will.

      July 26, 2012 at 4:22 am |
    • ortagasax

      If satan gave us freewill then god and satan are the same. especially if you think god is all powerful

      July 26, 2012 at 4:34 am |
  2. GodFreeNow

    I wonder if the people who ask, "how could god let this happen?" have actually READ the bible. From what I've read god seems quite fond of massacres. According to the bible, he's ordered plenty of them and even carried out genocide on his own by flooding a planet because he was "displeased." If god really did exist why should you expect anything different from him today?

    July 26, 2012 at 4:16 am |
  3. Exhero

    23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

    24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

    i wonder who they made fun of??

    July 26, 2012 at 3:54 am |
  4. oneworld2

    Where he has always been, in imagination land.

    July 26, 2012 at 3:44 am |
  5. aTheist

    I believe he only needs to ask for forgiveness & he will be saved! That should cover all his past sins! That's the Christian dogma!!

    July 26, 2012 at 3:27 am |
  6. Mike P

    1) To assume that God allows "unrequired" evil to occur is to assume too much. You have no standard by which to judge any evil "unrequired."
    2) God made the universe with certain natural laws (e.g., the capacity for free will) in mind. Preventing all evil would do an end-run around these laws, which would run cross-purposes (no pun intended) to imbuing the universe with those laws in the first place. So, since God apparently had a purpose in mind when establishing the laws of the universe, that purpose must have a higher priority than the prevention of evil. And God has every right to prioritize things that way.
    3) If God requests that we pray (and He does) then apparently our prayers are part and parcel of the God-foreseen warp and weft of history. We have our part to play in this grand drama we call life, and a key component of our part is prayer.

    July 26, 2012 at 3:25 am |
    • Mike P

      Drat. Was supposed to be a reply to May's remarks.

      July 26, 2012 at 3:26 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      A perfect god would neither need nor require prayer.

      July 26, 2012 at 3:51 am |
    • ortagasax

      god never required us to pray, hell it wasn't till the formation of the Jewish faith then the christian faith that we had to pray to him. Other cultures had other beliefs before christianity/islam/judaism spread, so feed that to a different judge. And even the religions that required prayer still lost people by the bucket loads. There is no god.

      July 26, 2012 at 4:22 am |
  7. sagar

    God is good god is everything. And mind believes that things should be different turns against what is good. If you know how to be kind, peaceful, loving that is what you teach. And that is what you will promote in your world. What do you see in your world? If you see love and give love then is what you see. If you see hate confusion, violence that is what is it that you are doing to come back to peace. Do helpsome in the street do you smile at a begger or alcoholic and open your hear to them. Then the world is a good place. What you believe about the world is how you will treat your world. There is only one experiencing the world and that is you. Give you the best experience of the world you can. Be if possible loving and kind to your self and pass it on to your world. I wish all those who are suffering, love healing, wellness within and without. Be kind and gentle with your self. Take a look at http://www.thework.com which might if you choose help find some peace.

    July 26, 2012 at 3:18 am |
    • Moncada

      I adore my God, every morning when I wake up I thank my God for giving me another day of life to make a difference in the world and when I feel down I thank my God for all the things he has made possible for me to get.

      July 26, 2012 at 3:33 am |
    • ortagasax

      And when a random man shoots and kills innocents, that's part of his work? Dude even if everyone believed in the same god, they would still kill each other, take the salem witch trials, the spanish inquisition, the crusades, the modern day islamic jihads, they all sound the act of mad men, not any kind of god.

      July 26, 2012 at 4:24 am |
  8. Mike P

    The fact that people can ask the question, "How could God allow 10 people to be killed and 50+ people to be wounded?" makes me wonder if these people were living under a rock on 9/11 or, better yet, on the day they taught about the Holocaust in school.

    July 26, 2012 at 3:15 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      I was thinking the same thing. I live in Ja.pan where we had one of the worst natural disasters in recorded human history, yet you'd not hear such foolish questions here.

      July 26, 2012 at 4:09 am |
  9. Moncada

    Why am I not a bit surprised about this?

    July 26, 2012 at 3:14 am |
  10. May

    Do you believe God is all good, all powerful and all knowing? Well, then God, being omni, would not let unrequired evil exist because he is good. He would stop it, because he is all powerful. By this we can pretty much deter that God is not good, since he already goes against what he is said to be. As far as prayer is concerned, there is absolutely no reason to pray because God is all knowing and already knows what has been, what is and what will be, and to attempt to pray for something, someone or for some reason could potentially be asking God to change his plan, which is the best possible plan because he is God. So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

    July 26, 2012 at 3:14 am |
  11. Danny

    I dont think anyone will see this 🙁 So where was GOD? He gave us power over satan but not humans. Nor does GOD have that power. We want to be free.. we dont want anyone telling us what to do. Yet when things go bad.. oh then its GODS fault. Where was God? If you know Him and you pray and do the best you can..you hear from Him better. Just know He loves you and things in this world is not getting better. Turn to Him now.. just ask Him in your heart and ..how hard can that be. When you stand before Him.. we were ALL given a choice.. this could be yours today..

    Whats sad is when we make a big deal about this but when 30+ get killed in some other country, women, babies, men.. we hear NOTHING we say nothing. Try not to act like you care only when its someone you know.

    July 26, 2012 at 3:04 am |
    • ortagasax

      But that is how man is as long as it doesn't affect us, we generally don't care. god didn't give us power over satan/lucifer. He made lucifer his equal, he gave us free will to choose between the 2 of them equally and if god is all powerful god and satan are one and the same.

      July 26, 2012 at 4:27 am |
  12. indogwetrust

    I believe that Sky Fairy created the world we live in, but it's broken by sin, marred by evil. There is so much to show that Sky Fairy designed us, designed this planet, designed everything we see and touch–or can't see with our human eyes. For me, there is much incredible, irreducible, indescribable complexity in everything, even in the plastic of this keyboard that I am typing on. For me, everything is a love song from Sky Fairy –an outpouring of lavish love, that is unending, eternal, completely sufficient.

    But I also believe that tragedy, atrocities, and bad things are normal, because this is a perfect world that has been completely broken. If it was not broken so completely, then Person Fairy would not have come to save us and restore us to perfection for eternity. Sown in death, raised in glory. That is Sky Fairy's plan for us if we choose to trust in Him.

    Idon't ask why evil things happen. Or why bad things happen to good people. I understand that it's just the way things are right now and that Sky Fairy has eternal hope prepared for those who choose to trust that there is a better place prepared for us.

    I ask, "How can I help?" "What can I do to make a difference?" "How do I bring joy and sunshine and smiles to everyone around me in a way that is empathetic, sympathetic, and compassionate?" "How do I show them that Sky Fairy loves each one of them as if there is no one else to love." How do I do it in the most gentlest and understanding way?
    7
    I think it's a spiritual discipline of sorts–to live each moment of our lives as if it is our last–to make it count, to have hope and stand with courage, whether or not the end is peaceful or horrifying. My hope is in eternity. I can't help but think of the Colorado shooting right now, Syria right now and other places in the world where atrocities happen every single day. I also think of us who just happened to be born in a safer area, a more privileged position. It's no accident, and we who have more opportunities have a spiritual, moral, and social obligation to those who are suffering so much. Our lives are a gift and we can choose to abuse them, or waste them, but Ibelieve that there is so much more purpose.

    Yes, this world is a scary place, but I do not fear. I care. And I will spend my time making adifference.

    July 26, 2012 at 2:08 am |
    • Levin

      If God were to do and see only good things happen on the earth, then we human beings would have to be robots wholly under the control of the Almighty God doing only what he commands at the click of the mouse. But, our God respects our freewill. A man is made up of BODY, SOUL, and SPIRIT (unlike the animal just made up of body and soul, hence a monkey can never become a man, poor Mr. Darwin). Human BODY with its five senses and unique anatomical structure is just a frame to carry the SOUL and SPIRIT. God had created man with a celestial body (we will get the celestial body back at rapture, coming back of Jesus Christ – God in the form of Man; if we believe Jesus Christ as God, who died in our place and took upon himself all the penalty the punishment of our sins, to save us and give us eternal life), but due to sin it became an earthly body. The SOUL is the seat of human intellect, feelings, and freewill, hence the decision making power. The human SPIRIT is the seat of conscience, guilt, hunger to know the truth, to know God, to worship God, and a sixth sense to hear good from God or evil from the Devil. It is the human SPIRIT that makes a man feel – emptiness, loneliness, sense of guilt, fear of death.
      We trying to understand the almighty sovereign God is just like or worse than an ant crawling on our feet trying to understand us or an ant at the base of world's tallest building trying to study it.
      God (Jesus Christ) exists, He is in control despite all evil, chaos, natural disaster, happening around. He being righteous is giving everyone including the devil the chance to repent, confess and be reconciled with GOD almighty. After the rapture, after 7 years, Jesus Christ himself will reign this earth, the whole world for 1000 years, and prove – what a wonderful place is this world to live. Then the FINAL JUDGEMENT – either eternal hell or eternal heaven. And then the, eternity begins with New heaven, the New Jerusalem and the New Earth. Amen.

      July 26, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • OTOH

      Levin,

      Odd. You sound just like a parroting robot.

      July 26, 2012 at 2:43 am |
  13. Really

    Life is full of suffering for those who fail to understand the true nature of self. Asking how something like this is allowed to happen or wondering where god was (or worse, providing absolute answers to these question) do nothing to help alleviate the pain and confusion events like this bring about. We can never eliminate loss, but we can do much to stem the tide of suffering it invokes.

    July 26, 2012 at 2:06 am |
    • Good News Volunteer

      I have lost many close family members, friends, and even an unborn 1 lb baby girl and pain from it sticks for sure. My hope and understanding is that I will see them once again when they are brought back to life. John 5:28 gives that hope among other verses dear to me. The badness we see in this time period will not last much longer. Matthew 24:14 is being fulfilled today and it is good to recognize those who bear God's name and are helping people to realize the happy future that can be experienced in the near future. It will bring true comfort.

      July 26, 2012 at 2:23 am |
  14. May

    I believe that God created the world we live in, but it's broken by sin, marred by evil. There is so much to show that someone designed us, designed this planet, designed everything we see and touch–or can't see with our human eyes. For me, there is much incredible, irreducible, indescribable complexity in everything, even in the plastic of this keyboard that I am typing on. For me, everything is a love song from God–an outpouring of lavish love, that is unending, eternal, completely sufficient.

    But I also believe that tragedy, atrocities, and bad things are normal, because this is a perfect world that has been completely broken. If it was not broken so completely, then Jesus would not have come to save us and restore us to perfection for eternity. Sown in death, raised in glory. That is God's plan for us if we choose to trust in Him.

    I don't ask why evil things happen. Or why bad things happen to good people. I understand that it's just the way things are right now and that God has eternal hope prepared for those who choose to trust that there is a better place prepared for us.

    I ask, "How can I help?" "What can I do to make a difference?" "How do I bring joy and sunshine and smiles to everyone around me in a way that is empathetic, sympathetic, and compassionate?" "How do I show them that God loves each one of them as if there is no one else to love." How do I do it in the most gentlest and understanding way?

    I think it's a spiritual discipline of sorts–to live each moment of our lives as if it is our last–to make it count, to have hope and stand with courage, whether or not the end is peaceful or horrifying. My hope is in eternity. I can't help but think of the Colorado shooting right now, Syria right now and other places in the world where atrocities happen every single day. I also think of us who just happened to be born in a safer area, a more privileged position. It's no accident, and we who have more opportunities have a spiritual, moral, and social obligation to those who are suffering so much. Our lives are a gift and we can choose to abuse them, or waste them, but I believe that there is so much more purpose.

    Yes, this world is a scary place, but I do not fear. I care. And I will spend my time making a difference.

    July 26, 2012 at 1:59 am |
  15. "For od so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

    "For Sky Fairy so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

    July 26, 2012 at 1:54 am |
  16. Good News Volunteer

    The current article on http://www.watchtower.org explains in detail using bible verses the reasons why bad things happen. Use your own translation and compare what it says. Scriptures interpret scripture rather than people taking them out of context and deciding what is meant. It hurts His heart to see things like this take place but He loves justice and will correct the wrongs we see happening currently. Revelation 21:4.

    July 26, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Scripture is nothing.

      There is not a shred of verified evidence for the supernatural beings and events told about in those stories.

      July 26, 2012 at 2:04 am |
    • fintastic

      Stories invented by man.... and some pretty hateful ones at that.

      July 26, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  17. KIRK

    HERE WAS THE SPIRIT OF GOD

    MY HEART SCREAMS TO HEAVEN HONOR!!!!!!!!! HONOR!!!!!!
    HONOR!!!!! THESE ARE MEN!!!!

    the Aurora three
    Great evil often brings out the best in good men, men like Todd Beamer on Flight 93, Medal of Honor recipient Michael Murphy in Afghanistan, and now the Aurora three - the three young men, each in different parts of theater nine, who gave their lives to protect their girlfriends.

    Twenty-five-year-old Jon Blunk was sitting next to his girlfriend, Jansen Young, at the midnight premiere of "The Dark Night Rises" when the gunman (who shall remain nameless) opened fire in the dark theater. Blunk instinctively pushed his girlfriend to the ground and threw his body on top of hers. Blunk, a security guard, served eight years in the Navy and was in the process of re-enlisting in hopes of becoming a Navy SEAL, family and friends said. He was killed in the gunfire; his girlfriend survived.

    Twenty-four-year-old Alex Teves dived on top of his girlfriend, Amanda Lindgren, when the gunfire erupted. Covering her body, he took the bullets so they did not harm her. She survived the massacre; he did not.

    Matt McQuinn, 27 years old, threw his body in front of his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, as the shooting continued. Yowler survived with a gunshot wound to the knee; McQuinn's body absorbed the fatal shots.

    LET the Aurora three's blood sacrifice be accounted for honor
    and the vermin murderer's name be stricken from the public record

    July 26, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • indogwetrust

      Sky Fairy bless them.

      July 26, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  18. A Random Atheist

    Why should we even assume God is there? The world, and this incident, is better explained without relying on God and divine explanations. Why did this shooting happen? Because crap happens. A guy went nuts, he killed people, end of story. God was not involved. If God does not interfere with free will, he cannot be involved, because it was the shooter's free will to go on a rampage, and it was the victims' free will to attend a Batman movie that night. There isn't a whole lot of room for God in such a situation. You can say, it was God's will, or that God works in mysterious ways, but that's not an explanation. That's a cop out that has no evidence behind it. When something good happens, that's not because of God's divine providence, but because good crap happens. When a tragedy happens, it's not God's punishment, it's not part of a plan, it's because bad crap happens. We can make the world a good place, or a bad place. It totally depends on how we live our lives. There is no evidence suggesting God intervenes in this world for better or for worse (outside of isolated situations that can normally be explained as luck or chance), and therefore we should not assume he is interacting with this world at all. If God does happen to exist, I don't think he interferes in human affairs much at all.

    July 26, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • Bob

      I so hear you.

      July 26, 2012 at 1:33 am |
  19. RuhI

    Because if it wasn't for death.. How would we remember to live? God helped them.. Those that died are in a better place right now.. While those of us still here will still go through the hardships of life.

    July 26, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • Bob

      Proof, please. Or stow your fairy tales.

      July 26, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Hambone Jones

      Again, and no offence to the deceased, but all we know for sure about them is that they wanted to watch a Batman movie, and they were murdered. That doesn't make them martyrs to the Christian faith, does it? So, even if a "better place" exists, how do you KNOW that's where they ended up to?

      July 26, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • ortagasax

      So another random set of people died in a random shooting in a random cinema... If it weren't on the news, I doubt any of us would care.

      July 26, 2012 at 4:30 am |
  20. Ahmed

    having said that, everyone gets compensated for what they suffer of injustice. Compensation can be, being forgiven for some of your sins

    July 26, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Bob

      So, Ahmed, those millions of kids who have suffered and died due to disease and starvation are going to be compensated how, exactly? And why would a god need them to suffer so? Your god must be another one of those nasty vicious ass hole ones, like most of the popular ones.

      July 26, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • Hambone Jones

      What if suffering a load of injustices turns you into a mass murderer, like this guy?

      July 26, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • ortagasax

      Oh compensated for injustice? Have you been living on drugs for most of your life? Injustices never get righted, definitely not the ones that would make a difference. People are still dying over poverty while those in position of power continue to rob them, Innocent children die everyday, innocent civilians die everyday. so um there is no justice, man created justice and she's not working so well.

      July 26, 2012 at 4:33 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214
Advertisement
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.