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. T.L.O'Connell II

    Who truely knows for sure. If a god does exsist then god would have no interest in the physical functions of human kind, and would only be interested in the sprit. The body would just be a shell worn while in a physical form. If god does not exsist then nothing will come of this futile exercise.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • vgnsnr

      Ergo: nothing will come from this futile exercise then.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Joshua

      I think you have stated it most succintly but I will try to elaborate. Imagine you were an ant crawling on the ground and you saw something huge plop down in front of you, you go around it and it appears to be part of something bigger, huge, monumental! but you cannot really see it all, you can only guess based on the little you have seen. Could you imagine knowing the motives or even correctly guessing who and what it is you saw with your tiny ant brain?

      multiply that times 1 hundred billion and you might get a concept of our lack of an ability to know what God is and what his motives are.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  2. Johnson

    I am a Christian, but we have done a very poor job of communicating who God really is. Everyone was given free will, we are allowed to choose whether to do good, or to perform evil. God cannot violate our free will because then we would be robots, programmed to act in a certain matter. Those of you with kids understand this. You train them a certain way, but ultimately it is their choice as how they turn out, it's the same with humans.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      "Those of you with kids understand this. You train them a certain way, but ultimately it is their choice as how they turn out, it's the same with humans."

      I do not hide in the attic for the entirety of my kids' lives... and leave little confetti-sized bits of my "wishes" scattered all about the all over the world; and if my kids don't put them together perfectly and behave accordingly, I don't toss them into the barbecue to be tortured forever...

      July 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  3. lorraineogan

    I think a good way to think about this question is by analogy. Suppose that the police never showed up on the scene. We might ask, "where were the cops in Aurora?" We expect the cops to show up to intervene. But suppose the cops said that it was apart of their plan to not show up, and while it might not make sense to the public, they have their reasons. If the cops did something like that, there would be a public outrage. Why? Because the cops have a duty to prevent crime to the best of their ability. Does God have the ability to prevent suffering to the best of his ability? If you said yes, then I don't know where God was. Maybe He didn't hear about it.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  4. oldusafsarge

    Maybe he was catching a showing of 'Ted' a few screens over. There's really no other rational explanation, right believers?

    July 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  5. Mirosal

    Ok, this event was truly a tragedy. Here's my question. WHY is religion involved in the FIRST place? The shooter made no reference to any "god" while emptying out his magazines, and no religious motives were ever given, and you people just have to twist things around so your "god" has room to fit into this. Wake up!! This is the work of one deranged person, no god, no devil, no spirits ... If there wasn't a religious base for his actions, why are you trying to spin one on them now?

    July 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  6. Ed

    God was too busy playing Texas Hold'em with the Easter bunny and Santa Claus.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  7. Jared

    He was with the girl who was born with a brain defect of a small tube that passed from the front of her brain to the back. And He was there when she woke up from her surgery after a shot from the shotgun entered her nose and the tube which safely carried the pellet to the back of her brain without any major brain damage.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • rutiluspallium

      So why was God with her, and not the 12 people who died? Don't attribute that to God unless you want to blame him for all the pain and suffering as well. We can't cherry pick to make it sound like God makes all these great things happen and act like all the bad is someone else's fault. Randomness is a part of his creation. She was fortunate.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • vgnsnr

      Are you serious? So a "God" saw all this coming and planned it out this way? Why? To play a cruel joke? Or to tell the parents of the little 8-year old who died that they deserve it like that? "Sorry, guys, no special "tube" for you. Muahahaha..."

      If such a "God" ever existed (and rest assured he doesn't) he could kiss my behind. No, things are completely random or based on decisions that people make.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  8. Michael King

    GOD is where America put him......Most people in America don't believe in GOD...GOD is for the fool...the ones that can't think for themselves... the sheep...the dumb etc.....so there is GOD. If you decide to put GOD in your heart....you are still going to die and probably a horrible death, but you will have hope in resurrecting one day.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  9. Yasir

    God created us not guns ..it`s us who created all this bombs,guns and all ...we are in this world for only one purpose and thats to worship god alone ..while you go to work god counts that as worshiping because you are doing it to provide for your family or your self in a legal way because you could have steel or kill for money ...when you say sorry it`s worship,when you help someone it`s a worship and alots of other things that we don`t even realize are counted towards worship ...may God forgive evryones sin`s that passed away in this tragedy and accept them in haven the true reward ... A INSTRUCTOR TEACHES YOU A LESSON AND THEN TEST YOU

    July 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  10. Joshua

    The pagans and heathens do not inheret the blessings and protections of God. They do not want him to govern thier daily lives, only when some tragedy or mishap occurs do they seek him, neglecting to otherwise. That does not sound like someone who really wants to attain spiritual enlightment, but someone who wants a cosmic "superman" to protect them and thier posessions, without truly realizing what it is to be among the "faithful".

    July 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  11. OutcastMastodon

    Wow, I never expected an establishment such as CNN to turn to provoking petty flame wars for views/hits on their site. That's just pathetic.

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


      You said, "Wow, I never expected an establishment such as CNN to turn to provoking petty flame wars for views/hits on their site. That's just pathetic."
      Lemme guess, you're new to the Belief Blog?

      July 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  12. leggs

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? – Epicurus.

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

      i got to say, that has to be one of the MOST sensible, logical arguments i have ever seen a posted. bravo

      July 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  13. vgnsnr

    Here's the thing:

    There. Is. No. Such. Thing.

    At least one would hope so. Let's just imagine, this hideous, unemphatic, ambivalent, contradicting and careless creature as described in the bible would really exist. What an ass. So, me personally I'm totally fine accepting the probability that there is no God or any other invisible "friends".

    July 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  14. Annoyed by CNN

    Asking this question the way it is presented here is wrong and automatically puts a negative spin on things.
    If you wanted this to be a non-opnionated question, asking 'Where was God' is not the way to do it.
    That right there is representing that CNN doesn't believe there is a God and is loving the attention they are getting by presenting him in a negative manner.
    This is not an appropriate question to ask, especially when you are swaying your readers.

    Everyone can believe what they want.
    I for one, believe there is a God.
    He gave us (humans) free-will.
    What we choose to do with it, that is all influenced by the people around us and more so the Devil himself.
    Try this CNN, ask us Where God was when you post a story about some sort of miracle... Ask us what we believe when someone was so close to death gets saved.
    Then see the responses you get....

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

      ^ This all the way, I am thoroughly annoyed by this type of thing as well. Not just because it's my beliefs being trodden upon, but because it's unprofessional, and not what I wanted to see whilst browsing the news...

      July 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  15. Jimbo511

    I don't believe in God; I don't believe in Aliens; but I once danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  16. bz

    Maybe he was somewhere else in the world saving other people? Kind of like Santa Clause, one can only do so much in one evening.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  17. chocokat

    God gave man free-will to choose right or wrong. Mr. Holmes CHOSE to do this terrible thing.

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

      and God watched him.

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

      "God gave man free-will to choose right or wrong"

      And the NRA gave him the access to all the weapons and ammo.

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

      There is no such thing as free will, and IF you had an ounce of reasoning to you, you'd know why. Or are you a 1st grader who needs a simple rule of logic explained to you?

      July 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Yousaid Wat

      Interesting how when something horrible happens the religious leaning individuals are quick to point our "free will", but when something good happens it was a miraculous divine intervention. So which one is it, get off the fence.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  18. ray

    the amazing thing is not where was or where is GOD he is present.but he allows freewill choice and as painful and baffling as that is its in the best intrest of all. i believe it would deminish his soverignty if he took away freedoms of choice.having said so its still disturbing.but he is present AMEN

    July 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  19. Believer

    From the Bible – But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, UNHOLY, UNLOVING, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, BRUTAL, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
    2nd Timothy 3:1-7
    It was all predicted and now it's happening. It will get worse before it gets better. People will become less godly, less loving, more depraved and barbaric, as we near the return of Jesus Christ. Believe that Jesus Christ is Lord now and be saved.

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

      Wow, so the guys who wrote the bible all those centuries ago were just clever enough to predict that eventually people would start to see through their imaginary god that they created, so they included some passages in their book that would seem to predict that bad things will happen if people ever stop believing.

      How convenient.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  20. R

    It is my belief that God weeps for his children here on earth when these types of things happen. He weeps for those that were injured and killed. He weeps in disappointment for the actions of the shooter. He weeps for those families suffering. But he stands willing and ready to comfort those who are suffering through the Holy Spirit, just as he wants all of us to comfort them by reaching out and supporting them in their trials. God is merciful and kind, and is heartbroken for the loss that these individuals have suffered, just as any loving father here on earth would be.

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

      unnfortunately, weeping doesnt do much good.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:03 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.