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. Wendy

    God does not exist! We are responsible for our own behaviors. There is no heaven and no hell, there are no gods, no unicorns, no santa claus, only humans being either good or evil to each other. The human race needs to grow up and let go of childish fantasies. Belief in god just breeds hate and war and excuses for our own behaviors. I have never heard of an atheist storming a theatre and shooting everyone in sight, it's always, ALWAYS someone who has some religion...it's unnatural to believe in that stuff as an adult, and that is why people are conflicted and do these kinds of crimes, IN THE NAME OF....(enter your misguided belief daddy here). Why is it that 99% of people believe what their parents told them to believe or in the religion of their country of origin? Could it be the captive audience dependent on food, shelter and love? I am a freethinker and a humanist, I believe in thinking freely without a book of hatred telling me otherwise. I believe in humans, and we can help each other, rather than waiting around for some myth to show up...anyone seen Thor lately?

    July 24, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • bob

      There will always be religions because there will always be stupid people to have faith and power-hungry people to preach to them.

      The only thing rational people can do is to point out the ridiculousness of belief in the hope that some people will come to their senses

      July 24, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • E.T.

      So athiest haven't once killed people because they don't believe in god? You are a complete idiot to think that, and with that statement you lost all credibility to you point.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Redemption23

      Wendy Your diatribe is breathtaking. On one hand, you claim omniscience in "knowing there is no God". Really....How do you know? Please do not use "science". Science deals with the "physical" not the non-physical. It has nothing to say about God's existence. (Psssss, He's non-physical....you know "spiritual") You obviously believe in the "goodness" of "humanist". Humanist goodness as it relates to what? Can science even prove what good is. Can good be tested? Obviously not, yet you use an abstract, immaterial, non-physical concept everyday and you don't deny its existence. Secondly, what do you mean by good or evil? Good as it relates to who? You, Hitler, Mother Theresa...who should the standard of goodness be? Also, why should we "believe" you or anyone for that matter? Finally, when you say "evil". What does that mean? How do you know what evil is if you have no standard by which it can be measured? C.S. makes this point well......How can you call a line crooked, if you've never seen a "straight" line. Your argument is full of fallacies and everyone can tell your just a disgruntled little person who's mad at God. Oh and I've heard people subscribe to the Laws of Nature or Genes for morality. Laws of Nature describe the way in which the universe operates and if you reduce morality to "genes" No one could ever be responsible for anything they do. One could just blame their genes. Things like good and evil are now rendered meaningless and can be reduced to preferences or choices. Think through your logic love. If God does not exist, everything becomes permissible. God is the ultimate standard for Morality and to deny it, is to affirm it at the same time....... Law of Non-contradiction.....which also exists, but we can't "see" it, so should we not believe in it too?

      July 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  2. milkandnico

    First off, God gave us free will. Crazy or not Holmes made the choice to kill those people. And if you ask where is God then think about the fact that his 100 round ammo drum jammed. If it had not the death toll would have been much higher. But again, we have free will. Do not blame God for the monstrous things that we choose to do. Also who said it was God's job to make sure you had a "nice" life. The Puritans who settled this country didn't expect God to give them a secure, pain free life.

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

    God was where God always is: the kingdom in your head

    July 24, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  4. One one

    If another person was fully aware of Holmes plan, and did nothing to stop it or alert the authorities, wouldnt that make him an accessory to the crime?

    July 24, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  5. madonfan

    Where was God? This shows the ignorance of this country and how God's word is truly reigning true. Do we think that the whole world is going to just die wonderfully orchestrated deaths? Who decides who is worthy of murder and who is worthy of dying in their sleep a peaceful death? We don't know why it happened in Aurora except for the fact that the days are evil. People are evil. Too bad people don't want to blame satan a bit. This article was ridiculous to even start. It stems from people who don't even know God. Pray for the families and be Christlike. That is what we should be doing. Not stirring controversy with articles as wasteful as this. Miracles are already happening as a result of this tragedy. God has been trying to pound in everyone's head for centuries that earth is not our home. Don't get comfortable here. Help the grieving, but don't paint a picture like God was pleased by this. Because He wasn't. He is the creator of the universe. It is dangerous ground to even question Him.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • One one

      It's dangerous ground to even question god? Why ?

      July 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • madonfan

      One One read the book of Job.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  6. Booggaloo

    God was there to bring home the fatally injured and look after the injured. But the devil was also there and he is the one who won out in this incident because the murderer decided to join forces with the devil. God gave man the will to choose between good and bad and we all know what choice this evil person made. Every bad thought and evil deed we perform is the work of the devil who does often win because of lack of belief in God. If you want to know what is store for this evildoer read the book "23 Minutes in HELL" by Bill Wiese and you will see what is in store for this killer and all those who choose to give up on God. This incident in Aurora was not God's will but mans. God is broken hearted over this persons evil choices. God bless all the people of Aurora and give you all strength to go on and live in his Love.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  7. eruthmorris

    The facts are this; We are born to live and to die (whether you believe in a higher power or not). The bigger problem about pain is that we deny that it is apart of living. If we choose to reference a God or the bible we all should know that the stories in the Bible confirm just that, that we are a product of life and death. Some of us have more time than others. It is unfortunate that we are humans and therefore we bare the burden of being vulnerable and that means that we are attached to people we love and fellow human beings. Everything is done for a reason, there is a lesson to be learned in everything that is done. The first step is to acknowledge the pain then to understand the pain and then make peace with it. All of those things are hard. We live in a tough world.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  8. SEY

    I personally don't believe that there is a GOD or GODS I mean there could be for all I know, but I highly doubt it and especially in his or her infallibility. But I honestly think it is just disgusting to propose this question right after an event like this. Not only is it too soon but your addressing the event directly so YOU ARE BLATANTLY MOCKING THE DEATH OF INNOCENT PEOPLE.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • jstepanek85

      I agree with Sey – way too soon to be having this discussion, especially with how the "Belief" section on CNN works. You've given trolls an opportunity to come out and spew anti-religious rhetoric, and ill-informed theists to make ignorant and harmful comments. I completely disagree with posing this question at all, and looking at the comments below I think I'm completely justified in that opinion.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • mike

      I disagree. I think its a perfect time to explore the question. It's on everyone's minds, so lets talk about it. No one is disrespecting the peropel in aurora or the victims

      July 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • SEY

      If you believe in GOD than anytime is alright to discuss the question because you actually believe in GOD. BUT if you don't believe in GOD this is mockery....And here is the secret that CNN also knows NOT EVERYONE BELIEVES IN GOD. So what have we deduced?

      July 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  9. Gloria

    How would we define Joy if there were no suffering?

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

      Good post Gloria.


      July 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • lorraineleilani

      You do not need tons of suffering just to define joy or a lack of suffering. By analogy, suppose you only saw white. You only need to see a speck of red to know what red looks like.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  10. Nissim Levy

    Theodicy poses a question to which Occam's Razor gives the best answer. Why does god allow evil?. The answer is so simple. There is no god, at least not a god that fits the usual definition of god.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  11. emdcommonpac

    god was helping holmes get those headshots.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  12. highplainsparson

    I am @PastorRileyF quoted above. Here is my more detailed response: http://highplainsparson.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/god-was-on-the-throne-doing-his-will-in-aurora/ God Was On The Throne Doing His Will In Aurora

    July 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  13. Oh boy here we go with the god talk

    The questions and comments on this page are truly surprising, 12 people dead, 12 grieving families, one pathetic waste of human existance chained up in a yellow suit in some courthouse facing punishment for what he did, take a look at everything that's happened since 9/11. God left this place a long time ago...

    July 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • QS

      Or – no god ever existed and it is now, like it always has been, up to us and us alone to get beyond the concept of religion and start focusing on reality and how to further progress our species.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  14. alain18172

    God gave man free will. The Father holds true to his promise. If he deferred from giving one of us free will, what would the value in his gift be than? The Father isn’t someone that gives something to us only to take it away when it is inconvenient. It is this modern age that has us weeping over death, rather than celebrating it.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  15. bob

    There. Is. No. God.


    Wake up people.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  16. Esther

    Dan Gilgoff 's god... sleeping in the WH.... that is his God! How can you ask that question for the people action? Where is the Dan God?

    July 24, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  17. David Porterfield

    The victims died because the human body cannot survive the impact of a high velocity bullet.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  18. Drew

    People tend to forget this world belongs to the Devil. That's why it's called the fallen world. Why do you think it's called the battle between good and evil? If there was no evil, then this would be heaven on Earth. The only place without evil is with God, and the debate is how to get there.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • QS

      No, the debate is whether people who believe like you do have a psychological deficiency, or are they simply addicted to their own self-righteousness?

      July 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  19. ViperGuy

    Ecclesiastes 9:11 says: "Time and unforeseen occurrence befalls all men." These people wereat the wrong place at the wrong time, nothing more. If God were to step in and stop this man, he would be supporting Satan's system. 1 John 5:19 says "The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one." If God were to step in, it would be in effect helping Satan. Revelation 12:9 says that Satan and his demons are the ones stuck here misleading everyone.

    But rest assured, God's tolerance for Satan and this kind of suffering that he causes won't last long. (Revelation 16:16) It hurts him to have to stand watch as people kill each other. But it's necessary that he not interfere just yet. Revelation 19:19-21 brings out that soon God will step in and Satan and all his mighty rulers will be brought to ruin.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  20. Bob Davis

    Flannery O'Connor wrestles with a similar problem in a fascinating story she wrote: "A Good Man is Hard to Find." In the story The Misfit and his goons systematically murder an innocent family; the grandmother tells The Misfit to "pray to Jesus." According to the murderer, "Jesus got it all wrong" because if He really did rise from the dead, then you had to believe; but if Jesus didn't then there wasn't anything to do but kill and murder in the short time you had. Is O'Connor suggesting that something of The Misfit lives in us? How we rise above this is manifestly different for every human being. Perhaps seeing in every face we meet something of ourselves–or God, or Love or Human Kinship– is a starting point. Davis

    July 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • QS

      Religion likes to deal in absolutes that leave no room for other possibilities. To say that there is only one absolute outcome for not believing – that the person would simply turn to murder to fill his time – is the height of religious arrogance and one of the more obtuse means of control that religion attempts to employ at any given moment.

      Religion and morality are not synonymous.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:16 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.