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. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    God was there protecting those who weren't killed and those who were killed was the work of Satan.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • sam


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

      I guess god should not have created Satan .

      July 24, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Delusional. Lets see we have G-od, Allah, Buddha and countless other G-ods out there. Yet only ONE SATAN! How does Satan do it? You mean to tell me that all of these G-ods can't kill one measly little Satan? Makes you wonder who is really more powerful.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  2. Jack Tinsley

    God was and is standing by all his children and ever fateful. He cares for the fallen, comforts the wounded, and is shocked at our continued brutality to our brothers and sisters. He also stands with the killer knowing that the burden of his actions wreck his being and tear at him every waken and sleeping moment. He stands with us in every trial we face and every moment of apparent miracle. I feel that God also sheds a tear with us all yet his work is never done. Gods continuous vigilance does not relieve us from our obligation to care for each other in times of trouble or times of joy. We need to be about Gods business. We need to be his hands and feet here on earth. We need to lift each other up and be the example that God would want us to be toward our fellow man. My God bless us and keep us and may he light shine down upon us all.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • One one

      You seem to know a lot about god. How do you know all this, does he talk to you?

      July 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  3. yikes

    I was brought up Catholic and was told God gave man free will. My take on what free will is exactly that – you choose to do what you want and God does not control us. He is like a parent who let's their child choose their own path but guides them along the way. A parent cannot protect a child from bad things – hence neither can God. The church told me God knows everything – not so sure about that – I like to believe God knows that person like a parent knows their child and can predict what the child may choose. But here's the paradox that arise for many Catholics – if God knows everything how can one have freewill? As far as bad things happening like the Aurora shootings – many bad things happen every second of every day all around the world – no one is unaffected – no one is anymore special than anyone else. So is there really a God that people like to believe there is?

    July 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  4. William

    I don't believe in a religions god. But I believe in mankind's yearning for truth and grace. When we respond justly and compassionately to misfortunes and travesties in this word, that yearning becomes actualized. Some people call that the work of a god. I don't see a need to argue.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • sam


      For a moment there, though, I read 'travesties' as 'transvestites'.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  5. eroteme

    One could also ask, why does God send us earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, etc. What God does, God does, and we who believe we know all about God may not know as much as we think we know. It could be, maybe? that God knows us better than we know Him, Her, or It.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  6. Alex

    Where was God in this? He was ready and prepared to comfort the families He knew would go through this horrific time. There has been so much talk lately of getting God out of schools, out of the government, getting God out of the way. But the second something like this happens, some want Him or some blame Him. People push God out of their lives but are upset when bad things happen. God uses hard times, such as these, in so many ways: to show us that He's the God of comfort, to open our eyes to the importance of life, but most importantly, to bring us to Himself. My heart breaks for those effected by the shootings in Aurora, but I believe that God will, in some way- big or small, use this for a great purpose.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      You said G-od was prepared to comfort the families! He knew it was going to happen, yet did nothing about it. This why people question religion. THIS MAKES NO SENSE! If g-od knew it was going to happen why didn't G-od strike down Holmes!

      July 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Alex

      Yes, God is omniscient, meaning all-knowing. There are no secrets kept from God. When something, anything happens, He doesn't think, "Well, that came out of no where! I wasn't expecting that." It has been said all over this comment board, but I'll say it again: God gave humans free will. He didn't want a people that were programmed to love Him like robots. He desires us to choose Him, to put Him as number one. Because He gave us free will, though, that does give us the option of sinning, as this man did in Aurora. Sin deserves punishment and sometimes that punishment effects many people- most sin does. God wants us to hate sin, just as much as He does. He did not like the shooting in Aurora, but for Him to have stopped it would have been against what He created, it would have taken away the free choice He gave the people He created.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  7. maltytasker

    "It's God's will." It's not just a Christian belief, but that of other religions as well. It's a way of explaining the unexplainable, perhaps a way to give comfort by saying that loss or suffering is a part of some grander scheme that we can't fully understand. Those with a strong faith might accept that; those without faith probably won't.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  8. Drusafa

    He is in the same place he was during the crusades. Could have sparred an angel of something. Maybe all the victims are needed elsewhere for some divine master plan. FUBAR! TARFU!

    July 24, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  9. forgottothink

    Faith works both ways. The Lord has faith in us to not be evil. The things that happen on this Earth, (natural disasters, evil, etc..) are a product of Satan. Satan has been called the prince of this world many times. To all the opposition, attacking faith is the way to make your points known. God is in heaven, his light shines through those who choose not to extinguish it. In my own opinion, God doesn't intervene in the lives of mortals.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      And yet he unleashed a supernatural demon(Satan), whom he created, to manipulate mankind. Pretty loving of him wouldn't you say?

      July 24, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  10. crashingwaves

    The one on trial is James Holmes not God. James Holmes is to blame for the massive killings and not God.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • sam

      I feel deja vu.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  11. Believer

    But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
    2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
    3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
    4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
    5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
    6 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,
    7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
    2nd Timothy 3:1-7

    July 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      So you think the times we are in now reflect this passage? Society has been similarly unglued for centuries with things no worse now than they were in the past. It might "seem" like things are spiraling out of control more now than in the past but that is merely an illusion due to more prevalent media of things we would not have heard of in times past. It wasn't so long ago that most people spent the entirety of their lives without travelling more than 12 miles from their birthplace and hearing precious little of folks beyond. In many ways our society is far more equitable and humaine than any other time in Earths history.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  12. Epicurius

    I can't stop copying and pasting!!! I am an idiot!! arghhhhhhhhh!!!

    July 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  13. Arj

    Did God give any warranty at the time of birth? Everyone will die. So this is not a reasonable question. This problem can only be solved if we introduce rebirth into religion. Otherwise lot of things dont make sense. Otherwise it makes God a cruel person. I do not wish to worship such a God who throws me into eternal hell and many cases he wont even give us a fair chance.

    But if you accept that life is an endless journey, we are at different parts of journey, then it might make sense. I went through great sufferings though I was believing God. He did not reduce any of my physical problems. But that faith gave me enough strength to not to feel depressed not even for a second when I lost my leg.

    Why should God worry about death of anyone when the death does not make any sense for him. The following is the quote from Bhagavad gita:

    vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya
    navani grhnati naro 'parani
    tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany
    anyani samyati navani dehi

    As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.

    jatasya hi dhruvo mrtyur
    dhruvam janma mrtasya ca
    tasmad apariharye 'rthe
    na tvam socitum arhasi

    For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.

    avyaktadini bhutani
    vyakta-madhyani bharata
    avyakta-nidhanany eva
    tatra ka paridevana

    All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their interim state, and unmanifest again when they are annihilated. So what need is there for lamentation?

    July 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  14. LeoTheGreater

    This article was ridiculous to even start. It stems from people who don't even know God.

    Imagine that stems from those who don't even know god. like god is knowable? That is the ridiculous kind of answer one can expect from a deluded mentally deficient religionist.

    What’s the difference between a Doctor of Medicine and a Doctor of Theology? One prescribes drugs and the other may as well be on drugs. A theologian is somebody who is an expert in the unknowable. And has all the qualifications to prove it. Yeah, a real specialist.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • ROFL

      there is no god

      grow up

      July 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  15. Skeptical

    I remember when I was young and learned all about God in church. Then it turned out my priest was a pedophile. Oh well ,there goes that communication channel. Speaking of Satan, he's been busy these days supporting the NRA so I cant ask him either. Guess you'll have to ask your heart.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  16. The Doctor

    Religion is called the opiat of the masses for a very good reason. In prehistoric times, when basic scientific understanding of our universe didn't exsist, primitive ignorant people needed a way to explain things they didn't understand but were curious about and, often, afraid of. Since, "Because, sometimes, $H1T happens." wasn't an exceptable explaination to the people, the tribal wise men (by whatever name.) had to come up with an explination. The solution? A Magic dude with, often personified by some aspect of nature, with supernatural powers that makes things happen, rewards the good and punishes the evil. We will call these wise men the mythical Bob!

    In the begining Bob created a fantastic story to explain a world that nobody really understood, but since Bob was acknowledged as the smartest guy in the village, it was left to him to come up with acceptable answers to (at the time) unanswerable questions. Probably under the pain of death. Bob did his best, with the best of intentions. Thus, the first gods and religions were born.

    And, at first, it was relatively harmless. Afterall, who would have believed that the reason their child was sick was due to millions of tiny living things that couldn't be seen were in their bodies attacking them from the inside. No, easier to beileve that Bob's magic glowing orb in the sky was angry because they had engaged in unnatural activities with a goat, or eaten an undercooked pig (which really was the source of the tiny living things causing their sickness.)

    Eventually, people with less virtue than Bob found out that they could use the ignorance and gullability of the people to their own benefit, either for monetary gain or to take advantage of adolescent boys. When science started to grow and become more accurate, the bad men did their level best to surpress it and keep it killing the cash cow they'd been milking for centuries. But, you can't stop progress forever. So, while there are still many who would rather belive in the magic guy born of the Mystical Bob's imagination, more and more people are putting their faith where it belongs. . .in facts varified by repeatable, methodical, experiments.

    What is my point in this little story? In the current era, Bob's stories are not really needed by those who can accept responsibility for themselves and their reality. For those who are too weak to accept that sometimes bad things happen to good people for no good reason. Sometimes, we fail because life is hard and it sucks and it's nobody's fault. . .and sometimes it's nobody's fault but our own. But those to weak to accept realities perfer to blame "god." Otherwise they would have to blame themselves.

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

      If you are really a doctor, you should be really appreciating how well the human body was designed. To get such wonderful thing out of random mutations is impossible. We can even create a human gene out of random mutations even using comupter simulations.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  17. supafly88

    There is God.

    Yes, Buddha say he welcome suffering..it is part of life cycle. There is good and evil on earth..we can't stop it, but we learn and limit from happening again !

    July 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  18. mark

    the whole "man's free will" arguement is nothing more than a believers tool to explain the absence of a god. What happened in Colorado is certainly evidence of man's inhumanity to man. But also serves as indication of the absence of a god. This coupled with the fact that there is no evidence of a god certainly should speak to volumes to us. There is no god. The judeo christian "god" is nothing more than an invention used by ruler and the wealthy to control the populace. Yes, don't worry that you have nothing and poor as a rat, downtrodden, sick and in pain with no means to seek healing arts, all will be rewarded in the next life. Time to wake up.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  19. bj

    IF you believe in evil, dan???? freally?? it's not a loving God's will that lives be taken in this horrid way – evil exists and it's running rampid in aurora....

    July 24, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  20. Metron

    I don't think there really is a God like the Bible suggests. In fact, the Bible has been manipulated so much over time that we can't really trust its content. How is anyone to know the current version(s) were the intended version(s).

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

      The Holy Spirit confirms that God is real. It says so in his word. His spirit bears witness with ours that we are children of God. You have to diligently seek Him to know this. You can read the bible over and over again but if you don't have the right heart, you won't find Him.

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

      madonfan: You can't confirm a Holy Spirit. I think any person can "find" whatever they want from the Bible. It's completely subjective.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      All of you deity freaks need to ask yourself a simple question...SO WHAT? So what if there's a magical presence that owns all of reality? It doesn't matter, because that magical presence simply DOESN'T DO ANYTHING. So what if something good happened in your life? Please fathom that it happened regardless of your faith (or lack thereof). Stop thanking a deity for your good things in life...thank the efforts of you or your fellow humans, or thank random chance...they have a much higher chance of being responsible for your good fortune. Stop threatening others through judgement. It won't have an effect. Either their own actions, the actions of others, or pure chance will address that which you pass judgement upon.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:00 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.