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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. Is There a God

    Some say yes. Others say no. What is one to believe? We will only know when we die, or maybe not. Does a person really go to heaven after death on earth? Some say that they have experienced a near death. All those who experience life after death say they see a bright light. They see relatives. Most see beauty all around them and feel at peace. Some hear God's voice telling them that is not their turn. Others have a relative to reveal the same message. Then there are some that say they experienced hell. If there is a God, all of us have something to look forward to when we pass from this earth. But what if there is no God. What are people experiencing? Could these out of body experiences be the brain shutting down? As our brain dies, it starts miss firing and releasing large amounts of endorphin. Are we only seeing what we believe in? Is the peace and loving experience actually the effects from the endorphin? Maybe the bright light and a tunnel is just parts of the brain giving mixed electrical signals. And the final end may come as an old picture tube tv being shut off and the bright light quickly turns to a bright dot that slowly fades into darkness. If this happens we are gone and cease to exist for an eternity. One final though. Is it possible as you are traveling through this tunnel and headed for a bright light, that you are in essence traveling down a birth tube to be reborn as another creature therefore erasing any memories you had as a human.

    Responses welcomed.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • One one

      Try posting shorter messages. They are more likely to get read.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Nissim Levy

      One one, try posting longer messages, they're more likely to get ignored. Bahh Bahhh

      July 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  2. jimstorts

    God does not attend movies. True Christian pastors and teachers instruct the members of their congregations to not attend movies. Hollywood does not produce anything which fits into the recommended activities of a Christian. The standard by which we measure acceptable activities is found in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

    July 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • sean

      I have to know what is a "recommended activity for Christians"?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • bz

      Well according to that owner of the firing range that tried to contact him, God kept them out if "this mess".

      July 24, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  3. Matthew

    The problem with people today is that they worship life. Life is temporary. Whether your shot in a theater at 20 or die in a nursing home at 97, you are going to die and that is fact. Dying is not the tragedy that Americans make it out. It is a part of life just like being born. To me, life is a test given to us by God. We either pass it or fail it. In the scheme of eternity, life is really nothing. We are given our chance here to show who we really are to see if we can pass this test. Our character is revealed to God and we will answer to God in the end for our belief/disbelief. Only by God's grace are we saved and aloud into heaven.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • One one

      Thanks for the heads up.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • RobPen

      You are right, Matthew. Wonderfully explained.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  4. William Clift

    Where was God? There was an apartment booby trapped...with DANGEROUS AND DEADLY bombs, and by the grace of God, it did not blow. Yeah my thoughts and prayers for the people who lost loved ones, I am so so sorry. However, this could have been alot worse and if you look at the facts, everyone, you all know it. God was there. God cant be blamed, however, lives were spared. Apartment BUILDING and surrounding buildings, because if all that went off, it could have leveled other buildings if, there are any around it right? Don't blame God. Praise God, we will never understand the works of the Lord, but I thank Him for the lives that were saved. Hallelujah for that.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Observer

      Yep. Praise God because he ONLY let 70 innocent people get shot.

      Get serious.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Nissim Levy

      You're full of BS

      July 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Oooo, you just played upon my pet peeve. The faithful who step-back and turn off brain are really not doing themselves any favors. How annoying to believe in a being who you can never understand and who is doing random things and not doing other random things. In the end, you see that all His Mighty Actions fit the exact statistical pattern knows as a Gaussian Curve. Marvelous the wonders to behold (of mathematical probability).

      July 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • One one

      Yep, I figure god said, "let's see, I'll let these folks get killed, and these folks get shot but survive and...oh, the booby traps, I won't let anyone get hurt by those."

      July 24, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Nissim Levy

      BucketDrop, I like your way of thinking; It's a breath of fresh air in these halls of stinking ignorance.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  5. Nissim Levy

    God isn't a Batman fan, he's more of a superman fan. That's why he wasn't in that movie theatre and prevented this massacre.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Jerome Horowitz

      I think he's an Adam Sandler fan. That has to be the explanation for his career.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  6. MayanMan

    The END is near. Mahabone.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  7. Observer

    "It's not his fault because Satan made him do it."

    Satan was created by God.

    So ultimately, whose fault was it?

    July 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Dello

      Ha, yes God created Satan but he wanted to be God and was disobdient, a con man, a lier, all the dirty things most people on this earth are today. He was casted out of heaven by God. We were created from what God made Adam & Eve and we are here on this earth with the one who hated God. Adam & Eve were corrupted by Satan so we are therefore born into sin and on earth with sin. So is it that hard to see why people can be just like Satan. God tries to save us, but you gotta know there are other forces in order. I dont believe God wanted any of those people to die, but that was Satan in action not God, and I pray they are in heaven with him. This was not meant to happen.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  8. C

    Good question! Where is God ever? Where was he during the holocaust? Where is he when innocent people, innocent children have U.S.A. bombs dropped on their heads in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen? Where is God in Syria? There is no sense to what tragedies happen in life.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Nissim Levy

      But he's always there giving all these movie stars and music stars good luck in their careers. They always thank him for their successes. God has screwed up priorities.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  9. The Truth

    A student asked a teacher (who had just proclaimed that God does not exist), if he thought that "cold" existed. The student corrected him. He says "cold" does not exist. Cold is the absence of heat. The student asked the teacher if "darkness" existed, the teacher replied, of course it does. Once again the student replied, "you are incorrect sir, darkness does not exist. Darkness is the absence of light. He concluded by saying that wickedness is just the absence of God in people's life. The student's name was Albert Einstein.
    The world will soon find out that God does actually exist, but it will be too late. God has given mankind formal warning about His purpose and has instructed manking what to do in order to be saved. Mankind has chosen to ignore this warning, it's a shame. Read the Bible with an open mind and you will see for yourself.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • byronswetland

      AMEN!!!!!!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  10. Mary

    To the question "Where was God in Aurora?", the answer is, "Just where He always is. In control." Just because bad things happen doesn't mean that God does it. Why don't we give Satan credit for this? I believe Satan should be blamed, not God. God sees bad things happening, He allows it, but he does NOT cause it.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Allow, cause, with foreknowledge, what's the difference?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Nissim Levy

      You should start thinking at a more sophisticated level. Thsi Satan Did It defense doesn't cut it. Why isn't god stopping Satan if he is capable of doing it. If I saw an old lady being mugged and I could help her but didn't then some of the blame lies on my shoulders also.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  11. Dello

    My question is how do people blame God but never blame satan, lucifer, the devil for corrupting people's minds and doing the completely unthinkable. There are two completely different spirits in action in the world and yet everyone blames God. I see Satan laughing already smh...

    July 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  12. sean

    God gave us choice. What we choose to do is up to us. He explained the rules clearly. We all answer for our own lives in the end.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  13. Jesus Christ

    You know why I haven't returned? This place sucks. Stop looking to me for an explanation. Treat each other right. That was all I ever said last time I was here, and 3,000 years later you still can't figure it out.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • byronswetland

      Not only are you a blasphemer, but your knowledge of Christ's teaching is lacking greatly!!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • byronswetland

      Not only are you a blasphemer, but your knowledge of Christ's teaching is lacking greatly!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  14. Zaphod2010

    I guess "god" fell asleep when this monster planned his massacre and woke up to hear the cries and hurt of the victim's families and those who were hurt.
    In other words, what god?

    July 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • mazdaren

      Another words, your words are the absolute truth. What's that? They're not? Oh, you're just another atheist then.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  15. daniel

    Proverbs 8:5 O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense

    July 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  16. Jim Hahn

    Same place he's always been. No where. Doesn't exist. He's a fantasy that we have created. For some silly reason, every society seems to need a "God" and though we're sure there's only one, we're also sure that he favors our _______________ (society, family, church, country, etc.; fill in the blank) over everyone elses, he (maybe she?) obviously doesn't.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  17. orion

    "god" ...grown-ups and their imaginary friends

    July 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Imaginary friends who seem to be legally recognized in the US. See "in God we trust" on the money and what is up with all of the swearing on the bible stuff? Shouldn't people be asked to swear on something more dear like their mothers or something?

      July 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • mazdaren

      And judging from the way you write you're just a kid who's trying to make a point but fails miserably. Great job you're doing there kiddo. LOL

      Kids need to stick to what they do best, and that's NOT pretending they know everything. LMAO

      July 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  18. Bobbo

    God wasn't invited because this was a public event. Remember we chose to separate church and state in 1947. Now we reap the results. Jesus said it best as quoted in Luke 13..., 4- "Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them—do you think that they were more guilty offenders (debtors) than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5- I tell you, No; but unless you repent (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally."

    July 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Ah, I see, so your god answers to the US government. Good to know.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Patrick

      So god was around (and answerable) for everything prior to 1947?

      July 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  19. damo12345

    How many articles does CNN need trying to make this into a religious story?

    This is insulting. Enough.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  20. David

    This is the Epicurean problem of evil within Monotheism. A god cannot be omnipotent, and all good, while allowing evil to exist. One solution is that God is not actually omnibenevolent: that for free will to exist, an all powerful god, must tolerate the degree of evil that exists. There is a simpler solution. Do not anthropomorphize evil; it is not sentient, it is not divinely motivated. Horrible things happen, and it is solely up to us to make the world a better place and humanity more ethical.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:51 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.