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. Ivelisse

    Although we have the freedom to speak our mind and provide our opinions on why things happen and why things do not, I just have one question for you, Mr. Dan Gilgoff, why all of a sudden a question so biased? Why didn't you ask this question when hundreds of people died in the World Trade Center on 9/11?? Why not ask this question when so many died in natural disasters?? Why not ask while so many are dying over senseless acts of "freedom" in Iraq?? Really??? Really?? Give me a logical answer to these questions and maybe then you will have to right to subdue yourself to asking why God let a massacre, that in all honesty CANNOT be considered nor matched to actual massacres WE all have seen take place.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  2. Mike Vaughn

    I like watching CNN but today I think they went a little too far, The Subject " WHERE WAS GOD IN AURORA" Are you serious???? And they want people to write in and respond. Nevermind all the people who lived, but also with all the Wars, and People who have died in sensless war that MAN STARTED, Poor Economy, All types of Abusers in the world, not to mention in our own Government. I Guess those things are ok for CNN but then a Sad Mishap happens here in Aurora and you ask WHERE WAS GOD???? How about this CNN, WHERE WERE OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS WHO COULD HAVE MADE TOUGHER GUN LAWS OR PASS A LAW FOR A MENTAL EXAM TO BE CONCLUDED BY 2 OR MORE DOCTORS BEFORE LETTING SOMEONE PURCHASE AN AK47!!! Or Where was the rest of Congress when 1 MAN wages war on another Country that cost thousand of lives on Both Sides???? I guess it's ok to use our Free Will to make money walking on the backs of others , and no one asks where is God because they are too busy lining their pockets, but when something sad like this happends, You Post WHERE WAS GOD????? CNN HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF FRUIT OF THE TREE???? MAYBE THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LOOK THE OTHER WAY ON NOT PASSING TOUGHER GUN LAWS INSTEAD OF LETTING THE NRA LOBBY AND LINE THE POCKETS OF THOSE WHO MAKE LAW, NOT TO MAKE STRONGER LAWS........God gives us Free Will and I'm a firm believer that we suffer from the actions of the Fruit we bear......And that doesn't just go for individuallity either.......If a group comes together to do nor not do something........the final outcome is from the decisions they did or did not make......in other words the seed that were or were not sown are the outcome of the fruit they grew. So for the last 20 years Government has Blindly looked away from Proper Gun Control because it's profitable...........and this is possibly the fruit that grew from it.........FREE WILL BY A MAJORITY......So CNN be more responsible and look at what could have REALLY STOPPED THIS or some of the other Incidents in the PAST.......instead of SWEEPING IT UNDER THE RUG and asking WHERE WAS GOD............

    July 27, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  3. Bob

    Jorge, actually, you won't find overall support for love and kindness from Christian god, when you really look at the nasty demands from god that the bible presents. Horrid stuff like this, in both NT and OT:

    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.

    Please, stop referencing that Christian book of nasty, AKA the bible, as a guide to, well, anything.

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

    July 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  4. Jorge

    For those who profess faith in the God of the Bible, perhaps it is best to refer to the Bible for answers.

    Habakkuk was a Jewish prophet and writer of the Book of Habakkuk, written during 7th Century BCE. He chronicled violence in the city of Jerusalem, and wrote this in Hab. 1:2-4:

    "How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted."

    Sounds pretty much like what many in Aurora must feel – or in Anaheim, Mexico, Syria, China, or anywhere. But Habakkuk receives a response to his complaints in Hab. 2:3-4:

    "For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness."

    The righteous person who has faith in God will live. Jesus alluded to this when he said in Matthew 22:32, "He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living." Centuries after Habakkuk, and decades after Jesus death and resurrection, the apostle Paul wrote these words in Acts 24:14-15:

    "However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked."

    God sees everything – he is more than aware of what happened in Aurora. Matthew 10:28-30 contains these words from Jesus:

    "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

    The very hairs of your head are all numbered – that is the power and remembrance that God possesses – he has unlimited memory. And he will use that memory to restore all that is lost – health, youth, or life. Revelations 21:4,5:

    " ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”"

    God will make everything new, restore all that is lost. Those who believe in the God of the Bible will no doubt find comfort in His messages to us through accurate Bible knowledge. To those suffering in Aurora – and elsewhere – God is lovingly watching whose who are righteous.

    July 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  5. Kenneth

    According to reports of the amount of ammunition James Holmes purchased and the amount of bobby-trapping he did to his apartment, it was the will of James Holmes to kill everyone in the theater and kill everyone in his apartment building. However, it wasn't God's will for the will of James Holmes to be completely done. God's will has always been for mankind to question their own refusal to comprehend and act upon the same message God has and continues to give mankind through allowing some of the wicked will amongst mankind be done.

    July 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Your deity always gets a free pass doesn't he? He is praised when something good happens, and man is blamed when something bad happens. He is praised for saving a person from drowning, but never blamed for causing the victim to enter the water in the first place.

      Apparently he enjoys diplomatic immunity.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • One one

      Right ! God thought "this dude is going to kill as many people as possible. I could stop him, but instead I'll let him kill a few people to allow some of his wickedness, so mankind will pay more attention to me."

      Yep, that sounds like how a god would think.

      July 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  6. StatesvilleNC

    GOD is in the same place He was when His Son, Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins of the world.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Pulling the strings?

      July 27, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Yes, right there, in the imagination of those that wrote the Bible, and in the imagination of those that read the Bible.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  7. Cq

    People claim that God exists, just like they use to claim that thousands of other gods existed. Nobody ever had to prove that any of these other gods didn't exist before people just stopped believing in them, so why should we treat the existence of this one any differently? All a skeptical person need do is simply not accept the claim that God exists. We don't have to prove anything.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • archon12

      Reason being is there big money riding on peoples' belief in God... think of all the clergy that'd have to find an actual job....think of all the votes that would be lost if you couldnt convince the poor that your party fights for God and family values. Much these days rides on convincing the masses that going through hell in this life + eternity of fun and games after.... one HUGE con....

      July 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  8. Ken

    1st, the question assumes there is a God. Since most Humans believe in one, the question is fair. What's surprising is people think God chooses when and where to intervene. For every so called miracle, there are countless tragedies. It would be nice to see our religious folks put aside Dogma and be more like many of our founding fathers, Diest. For those of us who are Atheist, there is a simple answer to CNNs question...This was the selfish act of a madman seeking attention.. He should be hung high

    July 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • JWT

      or the act of a very sick man in desperate need of medial help. We do not know which.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Hambone Jones

      Yes, if "miracles" are just the cases of above average results, then "tragedies" are the cases of below average results with the majority of results being somewhere in the "typical" range. This not only makes sense, but it's what we would expect to see, isn't it?

      July 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  9. Salvi4ever

    It's sad to see many of these comments because if there wasn't a God we wouldn't be here right now. He has the power to distroy us if he wishes, but in fact he hasn't because of his great and endless love he has for each and everyone of us. I know that twelve people were killed and there families are still hurting so I will like to share these verses Psalms 71:20-21...

    v20-You made me suffer a lot,
    but you will bring me
    back from this deep pit
    and give me new life.
    v21- You will make me truly great
    and take my sorrow away.

    God is the only one that can help you when u are hurting. He is the only one that can heal u and lift u up.God is always with u just pray to him and asking to help u through this hard time and he will give u the peace u need. God is always good! THIS COUNTRY NEEDS GOD AGAIN FOR IT TO BE A MORE PROSPER COUNTRY AND FOR ALL EVIL TO BE DESTROY!


    July 27, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Hambone Jones

      We need God again, like in the good old days? Gunslinging outlaws, fighting actual wars on American soil against the British, indians, and amongst ourselves, widespread disease, the Great Depression, organized crime violence, the KKK lynching and burning unchecked. Yup! The good old days when more people were Christian was so much better than this modern era.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, ghouls, goblins or guns

      I will join you in your prayer just as soon as you prove that I would not be wasting my time.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Salvi4ever

      Hambone Jones-Look, all those things happened back then because of the way this nation wants to be and that is to be the most powerful and strongest. We(I include my self in here since I'm not perfect) want to do what we "think is correct or think is right in our life"without having anyone control us. Let me give u an example, if you were/are a parent, would u want your son or daughter to take u into consideration when they make a decision as to which college/university they will be going to? I think you would because you probably wouldn't want your son/daughter to be going into just any university or college but a well known university or college in which they will receive the best education and have good teachers as well.Thats the way God is,he wants the best for us but if we dont take him into considerations in any of our plans he says ok if u dont need me i will step back, just know i dont think its a good idea what you are planning to do. God is a gentlemen and lets us take our own decisions but warns us what could happen if we take the wrong path.I'm sure God's will for creating us was not for us to live a horrible and unhappy life. His will was for us to live happy and have a prosperous life. We sometimes dont receive that blessing because we are stubborn and don't take God advice into consideration. God is love and even though u might not believe in him he loves u alot!GOD BLESS U my friend!

      July 27, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Salvi4ever

      0G-No gods, ghosts, ghouls, goblins or guns-it's ok if you don't want to join me in my prayer. I have to say though if you are able to breath and open ur eyes every morning without a difficulty you should be thanking our father up in heaven for loving u and not forgetting to wake u up every morning. He loves u alot my friend and know he is waiting for u to accept him as your ONLY GOD! GOD BLESS YOU!

      July 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  10. Sean

    How can anyone not see the truth in front of them, 58 people are still alive throu the mist of 100's of bullets. There is an apartment building still standing and it's occupants still alive, and in the midst of madness the gun simply jammed. There are millions of prayers spoken and help being extended from the four courners, God is with us all as always. The offender wasn't listening. Are you listening?

    July 27, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Jt

      Yup! We all know that guns never jam. Anyone with any experience with guns knows that your post is complete cr-ap. This guy hit a lot of targets in a dark theatre full of panicked people. The world isn't really like some Rambo movie where one guy can take out hundreds of people.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  11. suzanne bates

    we kick god out of everything and he is still merciful only twelve died.

    July 27, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Hambone Jones

      "Merciful" compared to the total genocides God commits in the Old Testament, maybe. I think you're looking at a glass with just a sip left in it and calling it half-full.

      July 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  12. James R. Cowles

    God either does not exist, or does exist but does not care, or does exist and cares but is incompetent. In any case, God is not worthy of our worship.

    People who do believe in God say that the problem is human choice. This answer presupposes that people should be allowed to do whatever they freely choose to do. So if I pick up a shotgun and blow my neighbor away, I should be allowed to do that as long as doing so was my free choice. Human laws exist precisely to keep us from implementing all of our freely chosen actions, and arguing that God is blameless because of human choice exonerates God ... but at the expense of advocating anarchy at the human level.

    So it would seem that human laws and human lawmakers understand something that escapes God: not every choice deserves to be allowed to be implemented.

    July 27, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  13. n/a

    The person asking this question is ignorant and needs to read their own Bible so that they know and understand God and his will.

    The answer you seek lies in Luke 10:30 -37. We could tell you what it says, but then, you'd never read your Bible and simply ask more and more silly questions next time.

    Moreover, read what Jesus' will is regarding peace and goodwill towards men in Matthew 10:34

    Now consider 9/11 when both towers fell and slew 3,000... what would Jesus have to say about it? Is not the same
    written in Luke 13:4? And the answer lies in Luke 13:5?

    Are not the Jews God's chosen and yet 6 million perished bitterly at Hitler's hands? So who are we to question his highest Majesty???

    July 27, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  14. Austin

    Where was God during the massacre? Where was Bigfoot? Where was the Loch Ness Monster? Where was Peter Pan? Where were leprechauns? All of these have the same amount of evidence(or lack thereof) of existing, so we might as well ask where all mythical beings were during this horrible tragedy.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  15. Donnie

    Where was he? In belief, he is every where and in all forms. I think it is naive to say "God wouldn't do this!" I think in all forms; Why was Death there? In reality of it, who was the messenger, what was the message? I think we all would like a detailed explaination or it could just be simple. No doubt this event is catastrophic for those that are still here, family members. I, myself, in the military for 16 years, been through war, gave my hand in natural disasters and have seen first hand, Death, Its never easy. In some form or another we all would like to deal with the individual in our own way, some a quick end, some would let him sit in jail. Lets just be done with him rather than waist the hundreds of thousands of dollars for his jail sentence. Why waist that time, effort and money on an indivdual who... didn't care for what he did in Aurora. Service members, fathers to be, children with their lives still ahead of them, mothers in and out of consciousness looking for their child, those that gave their life to protect others. RIP to all.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  16. David

    He was still trying to come up with an explanation of where he was during the Spanish Inquisition, Salem Witch Trials, and the Holocaust. The question assumes that there was a god present to stop it. This doesn’t seem to be the case. There was only a mentally disturbed individual that made a decision to do something terrible.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  17. Steve

    I think we figure our pain should stop God in His tracks at all instance, and who said those people in Aurora died... i believe they passed on, the passing on seems violent in man eye's coz of the suffering it causes him but, God knows we shall live through it...just like an instructor in army boot camp knows the pain that the recruit feels in nothing compared to real combat and he knows the recruit will live through it. We should not compare human emotions or feelings to God's, we cry at our own futility, we despair when we can't fathom things and our recourse is to say God doesn't exist..should He just exist coz you feel pain or coz someone you love died, remember he lost Christ at one time and never ceased to be God coz of his loss...to Cain he said " why do you look forlorn and downtrodden, beware sin is knocking at your door" the reality is that God does intervene when we allow Him to, any other way things take their cause, yet he knows nothing is lost coz we do not die...we shall die eventually when He bring it all to judgement ...

    July 27, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  18. georgex

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

    July 27, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  19. Phil in Oregon

    The ACLU wouldn't allow Him into the theater. When you go without Him, very bad things happen. The devil has only come to kill, steal, and destroy. God is love. Pick one.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  20. Anthony

    God is alive & well.
    So too is the enemy who scripture says 'is like a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour'.
    The question asked is 'Where was God in Aurora?' is a surprising one.
    Calamities have occur ed around the world on massive scales throughout history.
    Earthquakes, tsunami's, wars, serial killers preying on the innocent in anonimity for years, genocides & so much more...
    What is it about Aurora that would have qualified it for any special privileges?

    July 27, 2012 at 9:48 am |
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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.