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. Citizen

    If you believe in a mythical being that was written by a HUMAN BEING and thinks it is a god, the your "god" was wiping his ass when this happened. The FACT of it, was a HUMAN BEING that did this, and that HUMAN BEING will have his day in a HUMAN BEING court, not some mythical court. So keep you stupid mythical crap out of HUMAN BEINGS life, and keep it in your shorts because nobody wants to see it nor hear your dribble.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  2. eric john-

    Where was God? This tragedy, in my opinion, has nothing to do with God. God never wanted it and had we not been such an anti-God nation (in our actions towards Him and our fellow man), we would be here. It's seems we forget that He gave us dominion in the earth. Every man, woman, boy and girl has a choice in what they do with their dominion. This atrocity is what a person who is blind to his unmerited gift of dominion does to feel as if he has dominion power and control. However, just as Eve lost what she already had, Mr. Holmes will fade into history tethered to a scorned legacy of despair and obscurity.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  3. Dahrlin

    God does not exist. The concept is man made.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • austin

      You will be surprised when and after you are dead.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • lou

      how do you know what happens after death? or anyone? Whatever happens the a dead body cannot directly effect this physical world thus making it useless other then compost.

      July 26, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  4. Daph18

    It's all in his plan. Why would you think otherwise?

    July 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  5. Penny

    Why is it that every time something occurs where a crime is commited, some agencies and goberment officials ignore their responsibility. God has nothing to do with what happen, if we going to jump on that issue, than we not being realistic, and ignorant also blind to the fact that we humans are the blame for every thing going on Earth. "Give me a hit"...is the same as THE PROFECY'S AND GLOBAL WARMING..Is not global warming..that issue is push to make money..but some have ignore that is all written in the Bible..many will kill each other , earthquakes, floods, u name it, u can read it all in the bible. God did not make weapons, God did not give us brains to create such destructive machine. James did what he had to do in his knowlege mind. Someone did not listen to him at the time he wanted attention, they took him as a joke and they laugh about his knowlege. (spellcheck didn't occur here) Did they get his attention now? Soon America will know why these terrible actions happen. I bet they violated his rights as a human. Authority's always push some people buttons and then they call them mentally ill, cause no one wants to take the responsibilty of this case. I bet there is more people involve in this law sue he will issue.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  6. Jose Pineda

    I I have accepted the idea that God loves his creation whether that creation is aware (or not) of the Creator; whether the created love the Creator, or not. I have also realized that we live in, what I call, a binary universe: you can only know what is by knowing what IS not. No light without darkness, no up without down, no "goodness" without "evil". It's just the way it is. Of course, all these are HUMAN concepts. To God, I suspect, is just what is and is not. That's the beauty of free will: you have a choice. To ask where God was in Aurora is, to my mind, like asking what is the marital status of the number 4. Irrelevant. Kind of a "so what", IMHO. As magnificent as it is, the human experience is just that, an experience in the context of eternity: or at least the context of a very, very, very, very, very long time.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  7. Not Your Average White Guy

    On April 8, 1966 the TIME Magazine cover asked, "IS GOD DEAD?"

    Now we know the answer so could all you religious fanatics in the government go and get another job please!

    July 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  8. penny

    99 % of Americans are idiots, of course some don't understand how this works on Earth, evil rules earth, Our Creator endorse Earth to Lucifer for a little while. So what people expect, violence is all around, guns, drugs..and what we watch in videos games and movies do not help. Is wonderful always to blame the next person as soon they commit a crime with the permission of the system. Why the gobermenthasn't told the world how they cover-up the leak in the Nuclear plant that reach DENVER. It has created cancer and many have die of this course. Focus on that, it happen in 1957 or probably before that date and they denied it was leaking. Maybe this kid is trying to say many things that are going wrong in the system and was telling authority's what they have done wrong, and in his mind this is the only way people may reach out and do a research of Colorado State. Some people can handle violention of Human rights for a little while , meanwhile some spas on the pressure. Someone did something to this kid to make him reach this violent way. Our Creator does not punish people, people that believe in the Creator punish people. Is time to read the bible in Public schools, I really think someone push this kids bottons. I also believe he has more instore for the system. Time will tell. This kid has more prove of many other things going on with the system ( goberment). He fail in school course he believes the education system has fail. James Holmes UNDERSTANDS MORE OF SCIENCE THAN WHAT THEY TELLING US..Profesors don't always got to be right..there are students that know more than a teacher. I BET HE WILL HAVE MORE INSTORE FOR THE SYSTEM..u will see. God didn't make weapons. We humans are to busy loving things and we forgot to love each other. That is the Chaos in the world.

    July 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Jose Pineda

      Besides my disagreement with your opening statement about idiocy in America, I take issue with the "evil rules earth" part. I reckon you're referring to what the Bible says. The problem then is not with the Bible, but with how we have interpreted it. If evil truly "rules" earth, why is there so much beauty, goodness, and anti-"evilism" in this world? Is "evil" practicing some goodness by allowing it to exist in its kingdom?

      July 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Deeminty

      I think Santa Claus was the one who is behind this, or maybe the Easter Bunny? Or God? Get over it people, none of these exist, a evil man did this.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  9. lweba

    History tells us the past was terrible! Wars everywhere, the mighty oppressing the weak. Colonialism, slavery was the order of the day. The 1st and the 2nd world wars left the many parts in Europe in terrible state. What happened in Colorado is just an isolated incidence and many of us have come to know about it is mainly due the modern communication technology. The past is terrible, I would not opt to live in there. Religion has nothing to do with what happened in Colorado perhaps we could blame religion on the 9/11, Inquisition, the 100 years war in Europe etc. The world is becoming a better place when religion is put more in the background than when it is used in policy making.

    July 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  10. Marion


    Could i hear an AMEN. Well said.

    July 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  11. Salero21

    10,374 comments to answer a simple and uncomplicate question.

    God was where HE has always been and where HE will always be for all of Eternity, in HEAVEN.
    Not everyone who dies goes to Heaven.
    God cannot be blame and HE will NOT take the blame for the evil acts of evil men.


    No one knows how, when and where we will die. The end results of godlessness is the strongest argument for Godliness. A godless criminal commits a godless act and the next thing we hear and read in blogs like this, is a bunch of other godless people pretending to blame God.

    Others equally godless, pretend to argue in their foolishness that this solitary murderer, is proof irrefutable of God non-existence. God is in no hurry to Judge all of this acts, simply because HE has ETERNITY on his side. However, ALL of the Men that helped to create the conditions for this evil to happen, will eventually have to answer to God. Just as much as the murderer himself.

    So the illusion of the escapism, that pretends to deny God is NOT working well for all of those involved. The Nation is UNDER GOD's JUDGMENT. If men refuse to judge this murderer and allow him to escape like so many others, under the guise of the "Looney" card. They too become accomplices and part of the problem.

    And that is NOT God's fault either. HE remains in HEAVEN!

    July 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I appreciated hearing your opinion. As soon as you have any evidence that the dogma you've learned about this deity is true, let me know.

      July 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • GregScott

      God was with Harry Potter, Huck Finn and all the other fictional characters.

      July 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • GregScott

      God was with Harry Potter, Huck Finn and all the other fictional characters. America need to grow up, and stop blaming things on imaginary friends.

      July 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • sunpacific

      So, god is in heaven and couldn't take the time to come down and save a six year old from getting shot to death. And he won't take the blame for it either. Convenient.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Salero21


      Creation in and by itself is the Evidence for the Creator!

      The Faithless however fails to see that EVIDENCE within themselves, much less is going to see it all over and around himself. You called what I said a "dogma"; like if there is something wrong with it, just for the mere fact that is dogma. That friend is a fallacy! A dogma is a teaching, a Doctrine and a Tenet of the Faith. That by itself does NOT takes away the Value of it.

      What you believe or don't believe is also a learned dogma!

      July 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Salero21

      to sunpacific,

      It is a Fundamental Truth that GOD is always in HEAVEN. However, HE did in fact send HIS Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ so whosoever believes in HIM have Everlasting Life. Or as the Scripture say in John. 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

      The RESURRECTION of those who died in that Faith, is part of of the Everlasting Life. Because those who believe in HIM will NOT remain in the grave forever.

      July 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  12. GodFreeNow

    Where was Harry Potter in Aurora massacre?

    See how silly that sounds? For 1 brief moment, you've understood what it's like to be an atheist.

    July 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  13. Marion

    Dear: A reasonable person – i have never once said i hated anyone who did not believe – God loves us all as far as im concerned – the ones that no him and the ones that dont. So how is this hateful. I think people have to be held responsible – as this is why this debate was put on CNN – didnt you read the caption??? We as a people have to take responsibility and not point the finger. Are you understanding me – i never meant to insult you or anger you – sorry if i did.

    July 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  14. Marion

    DEAR Joshua James Robert(From India)

    AMEN Bro – could not have said it better myself. God loves us all – regardless if you believe or not. thanks Joshua – your good – ever thought of preaching LOL. What we need is a good ol' fashion Revival. Get everyone on there feet and a dancing.

    July 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      He loves you unless you don't believe in him, in which case he roasts you over an open fire for eternity. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

      July 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  15. A reasonable person

    All of you people of religious and atheist affiliations make me sick. Fighting over such trivial matters as whether god is real? You atheists, if you have no definite, inalienable proof god does not exist and the bible is false, shut up. You weren't there back in the time of the bible. Religious ones, if you have no definite, inalienable proof god DOES exist, shut up, you weren't there at the start of the big bang to see there is a god. You all just make me sick reading all of this hate, why can't an article/video/forum even mention god without a bunch of fools fighting? Where is all of your humanity? But you all will continue on anyway.

    July 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      In fact there is plenty of proof that the Bible's false. All you have to do is read the story of Noah's Ark. There is no scientific data whatsoever that supports that story. These forums for discussion and open debate. While it may make you sick to hear differing opinions and arguments between two groups of people, this is what it means to be in a free and open society. Suck it up or leave the discussion.

      July 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • archon12

      When something isnt real..its not real.... Bronze age mysticism.... and shutting up and ignoring it is a sure fire way to get disclaimers in your science books and... maybe even your head displayed on youtube... minus your body.

      July 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      What are you so miffed about? It's just a debate. If you can't handle it, what are you doing here?

      July 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Jose Pineda

      So, based on your screen name in this discussion, I take it you believe that a reasonable person is he who has no opinion because he was not there. That implies that since, nowadays, we only live about 80 years, there are no reasonable people when it comes to the history of the world.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  16. Joshua James Robert(From India)


    Its Madness to say, this was God's will. From the Bible, we clearly see that God gave Control of the Earth to Man(Genesis 1:27) and later on Satan decived man and took control. Jesus Came and died in the place of Adam and took back the authority and gave it to the church(body of christ, the real belivers in Christ – not mere members of church)...Now, Chruch first of all does not know this properly...Church believes that Satan is still in office...no, he has been kicked out officially..but he illegaly claims hold on people's life in terms of sicknessand(Physical and mental) other ills of the soceity!...Church should rise up and beat the living daylights out of the devil...i feel that the church failed in reaching out to folks like the guy who killed innocent people here....American Christians are projecting an angry God who is ready to judge sinners....its high time they open their eyes and see a God who longs to hug the aching humanity, having thrown the record-book away, the moment Jesus died on the cross...Come on America, preach about the Loving Savior and NOT THE ANGRY JUDGING GOD, we can prevent Auroras of tomorrow thro the Savior's love! God Bless America!

    July 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • TR6

      "The Lord has made all for Himself, yes even the wicked for the day of doom." Proverbs 16:4 (Romans 9:6-24, Psalms 92:5-7)

      "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7)

      And the LORD said unto him, "Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the LORD?" Exodus 4:11 (KJV),,,

      July 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • ..

      Joshua James Robert is a mudderchodd

      July 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • ..

      Joshua James Robert is a Benchod

      July 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • ..

      I had an indian roommate in grad school who taught me these honorifics 😉

      July 26, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  17. sunpacific

    "On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind." - Thomas Jefferson to Carey, 1816

    July 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  18. MTP

    Same place he always is during tragedies like this. Same reason too. But ignore all that because it doesn't fit in with what you've been told.

    July 26, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  19. Marion

    Dear dionysusBeer. God didnt go out and buy the gun. Man did – he gave us free will and guess what he used it for. It is sad all way round it truly is. Believe or not to believe – totally up to you. This man (for lack of a better word) will have to answer for this – no matter what the U>S> courts say – there is another justice system waiting for him – one where there is no probation or weekends off – truly. There is so much unanswered even in this day and age. Kinda scary out there dionysusbeer.- stay well

    July 26, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  20. Marion

    RE: (god's savior jesus approves of military grade assault rifles.). Sir you are an idiot and apparently not speaking for God (thank god). – your stiring up crap that is not necessary at this time. You should be ashamed of yourself, christian or not (and i believe not) to make a stupid blanket statement like that at this time is hurtful and cruel. Give your head a shake you DA. PS – God loves you lol. Now smarten up.

    July 26, 2012 at 4:25 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.