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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. anticomm

    Where was God in Aurora massacre? he was in WH

    July 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  2. classiq876

    For Cnn to come up with this question is very disgusting, So they're trying to put it on God, or start a war of words? satan was behind all of this, it was him that push that fool to kill all them people. listen they were all in wrong, all of the people that was in that place, because you shouldn't be in anything world is in. you should stay far from these hollywood none sense.

    As a christian no one would ever see me in anything that the world praise. this world is of the devil, he is the father of it, so repent people. the bible say :Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;

    July 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Sid Airfoil

      I have bad news for you. If god is infinite, then god IS Satan. I'm not saying this to be mean. I'm pointing out that if god is "infinite" then he IS ALL things, in ALL places, ALL the time. To suggest that there is a "Satan" who is NOT part of god is to state that god is finite. If there is ANYTHING, ANYPLACE or ANYTIME who/when/where god is NOT, then god is NOT infinite.

      Sid

      July 24, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  3. Sid Airfoil

    The typical theistic argument after events like these is that god gave man free will, and man often uses his free will to do evil. So it's not god's fault when things go wrong. This is my big issue with Christianity. God gets all the credit when things go well, and man get all the blame when things go badly. Christianity is a very anti-human religion.

    Some obvious question arise: Why did god give man free will knowing we would abuse it to do evil? Why couldn't he give us free will but create us so that we would NOT choose to do evil? Knowing we will choose to do evil, why does god allow it? etc.?

    From my POV there is no way to reconcile evil with a benevolent, omnipotent god: EIther god wants it that way or he is incapable of doing anything about it. If the former, he is NOT benevolent, if the latter, he is not omnipotent.

    Sid

    July 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • classiq876

      Its crazy how people don't believe in God, but find a way to blame him for all the bad in the world!! there's two force in this world: satan, and God, because you choose to follow satan is that God's fault? oh you don't like free will? why don't you move to china or n. korea then? The bitterness of unhappy people won't fix anything in this world. seek Jesus he can change you, he did it for me..... Yea i know want to keep worshiping satan ah? repent man, repent.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • little flap

      Free wil, God -given free will, implies choice. People given free will can make their own choices. God gave ( the very first ) Adam and Eve a choice in the Garden of Eden. They could ultimately choose obedience, submit to his rule, or choose disobedience, independence from obeting him. The fact that God even gave them a choice, shows that God himself did not know what their choice was going to be, for then what he offered them could not in reality be called choice. Choice was completely up to them. God was removed from their choice. They were on their own to make up their own mind. That, God is the oposite of a Control Freak because the choice to decide for themselvs really was just that, a real honest to goodness choice.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Sid Airfoil

      You people are so totally inconsistent in your arguments it's a wonder you don't fall down from being so dizzy.

      I neither believe in god nor satan. But your belief in both shows that you don't understand that nature of an allegedly infinite god. As YOU conceive him, god is NOT infinite. And if he is infinite then it is HE allows evil. I don't believe any of this nonsense, but if you are going to insist on it, then at least address the BLATANT contradictions in your beliefs.

      Sid

      July 24, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • little flap

      Also an illustration - If you have children and you love them, only good comes from you, never bad. You do not try to Control their every action and 'police' their every move. That would be very controling and they would pull away from you. Also, if you have younger children and you live near a street, ( where they could get hit by a car and die ), if you love them, only good comes from you, never bad. You warn them of the street and teach them not to choose the street. If your child runs into the street and dies, it is not your fault because you taught and warned them, and loved them, and were good to them. Someone else killed your child. Not you. Only good comes from God. Never does bad come from God. Bad comes from a different source. From an Enemy of God, who does want to hurt Humans. And does want Humans to give blame to God, the wrong one to blame, since ONLY good can come from God. God does not 'helicopter' us or 'control' our every action. Like we do not, lovingly, with our own children. The unseen Enemy of God, is, Satan the Devil, whom Adam and Eve chose to obey/ listen to/ follow, back in the Garden of Eden. It is not really fair then to put the blame onto God for bad or wrong. The one to blame for bad and wrong is Satan, the enemy of God.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • little flap

      Why does God allow Satan, his enemy, to keep existing? Why does God allow Satan to keep carrying out his own will to hurt Humans? Another illustration - If you have a few children and you love them all, and one starts to hurt all the others. Do you kill that one child of yours? The one who hurts your other children? Of course not!! Not if what you have for them is real love. That is a ludacris thought. If you honestly loved your children and you would also love that one child as well who hurts the others. It would be a very hard thing for you to do to take his/her life. Impossible, if love is there. And yet, God has many children, on earth, AND children in heaven who were created as Angels. Satan USED to be one of his children/Angels, but made a choice to be independent and mean. A VERY VERY hard thing for God to do to one of his own children is kill them. And yet, he has picked out a day on His calendar to do just that very thing. Kill one of his spirit creatures that he created long ago an who chose to be bad and hurt others. A very hard thing for a God of love to do. But ut would be MORE loving for his other children if he does so.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • little flap

      Love trumps all other actions by God. Love is His greatest quality. Love motivates all his actions toward others. An illustration - If you had a truly loving parent, one you felt comfortable confiding in, one you liked being in the company of, one you rely on and trust, you would find it easy to support whatever decision that parent makes for you, even when or if you personally may not agree. God allows certain things to happen to us, good or bad . Allow is not the same as cause. A God of love , real love, could never be the cause behind bad. If ANOTHER would cause a badness to happen to us and God allows it, who are we to question Him? If we really loved Him we could not. I think people find it hard to love a God that they do not really know. Knowing first and then love can come from knowing more about someone. Then when you love that person who you now know very well, it becomes easy to trust that person.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  4. Misleader

    Oh for heaven's sake, this is a real world in a real universe. God is not a Disney fairy godmother with a sparkly wand! He equips us with hearts, minds, hands and conscience, and expects us to take care of each other. The world gives us joy and sorrow, we are supposed to be able to deal with both. Faith is about coping with whatever comes. good or bad. People who whine that if there is a God why does he allow evil, miss the point. Did your parents do all your school work for you? God doesn't either!

    July 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  5. Eduardo

    Scripture speaks of a tragedy at the hands of a mass murder in Luke 13:1-3, "At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!" The question is not where is God is all of this–the Lord God is where He has always been, everywhere. The true question according to Jesus are we learning and repenting and changing from these tragedies.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  6. KRHODES

    "Where was God in Aurora massacre?"

    He was in the same place he always is? Why did God allow it to happen? In short...i have no idea. Does the wickedness of man mean he does not exist, of course it does not. Interesting we Christians hear these questions yet our society has decided they do not want God in the public square then a tragedy occurs and the same people ask where he was. Do we want God to rule every area of our life or do we want free will to do as we please? If we want freedom to do as we please then we should not be suprised when he lets us have our freedom.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  7. LeoTheGreater

    I am an atheist but Jesus said the Kingdom is within you, Luke 17: 21, and here's why.

    CHEROKEE LEGEND:

    CHIEF: A fight is going on inside every other person between two wolves. One is evil; he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good; he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
    GRANDSON: Which wolf will win?
    CHIEF: The one you feed.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  8. Lo

    God gives us all a free-will. It is clearly written in the holy Bible.

    They are all in heaven and paradise (Unless they aren't Christians)

    July 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • LeoTheGreater

      Free will is like god, A JOKE that does not exist.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  9. JG

    There is no "God". Unfortunately, people will never accept that. In history, "God" has taken the form of animals, objects, the Sun, The Son, etc etc etc. "God" is what people have made him/her/it. Key word, "made".

    July 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • New York

      Go hang yourself and you will meet God and ev. be sent to hell suffering

      July 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • JG

      Haha. A religious man, I take it.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  10. Joshua

    I will say this, knowing and seeing God is like an ant crawling on the ground knowing and seeing a human. They see bits and pieces and have to guess at the whole and the motive based on thier limited perception and knowledge. Now multiply that times one hundred billion and you might scratch the surface of what it is we have to deal with when we attempt to understand God.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • BubbaCo

      Huh? Forget understanding god, I'm still trying to understand your post!

      July 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  11. Robert Guercio

    Man invented god. Isn't it about time that man disinvent god!

    July 24, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • JG

      Exactly. It's simply a crutch for people. What's wrong with just believing in "people"? Enough of the make believe.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Nancy

      Yes, humans invented not only god but the entire supernatural world. Pretty silly actually. Time to have faith in ourselves instead.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  12. plasko

    If you believe the Xians then god is omnipresent so he was "everywhere" when the massacre occurred. He is also supposed to be omnipotent so can stop any event he chooses, from happening, what with being outside of time and all. The real question is "why should god care what humans do, were he to exist?"

    July 24, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  13. D.C.

    the killer was an atheist and he killed innocent Christians because of his cult

    July 24, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • John Gault

      Have not seen that reported so I assume you're making it up. Hitler was a Catholic. Anyway, if God exists he should be able to stop "atheist killings".

      July 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  14. akarmenia1

    Our time on earth is not a time to be shielded from evil. Quite the opposite. It is a time to be tested and tried by being exposed to a fallen world so that we can both show our faith and learn the lessons necessary for our eternal happiness. Only by being exposed to evil can we truly understand righteousness. Only by experiencing sorrow can we truly experience joy. There must be opposition in all things.

    To expect that a God "worthy of our worship" will shield us from all evil is to misunderstand our purpose on earth and the nature of God. Just as a parent must let go and allow bad things to happen to their child in order for their child to learn life lessons, so does God let us go. However, also like a parent, God does not let us go without leaving a line of communication and help. In other words, we must learn to withstand evil, but we are never alone in that endeavor.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Mike

      You're a Mormon, I'm guessing...

      July 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  15. gooberhead

    God was right there in the middle of it – no one chose to recognize His presences until after it is all over. Just think the out come may had been different if He had not been kick out of homes, schools, the court house. Don't shake your fist in God's face and blame Him, blame the face that looks back at you in the mirror?

    July 24, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  16. little flap

    like Bette Midler sings it - "God is watching us, God is watching us, God is watching us, from a distance........"

    July 24, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • John Gault

      And thinking "man I screwed up....."

      July 24, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  17. nmanikat

    Where was God in the Aurora massacre? He was busy not existing.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  18. Joshua

    a lot of what I read on here from those who say God does not exists appears to be in anger. Why? Even if he did not exist the Good done in his name outwieghs the good done by every other nation on earth...Furthermore, before the revival of our time man abandoned God almost completely for a few hundred years which resulted in imperialism, the most warred period in human history, the death of billions based on scientific "eugenics" and twoi world wars and a cold war that almost destroyed the world.

    You want to weigh one against the other, science and its religion lose every time.;

    July 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  19. darmonx

    how about those people who jumped in front of bullets to shield their loved ones? how about those who risked themselves to make sure women and children were safe? God was there but the devil brought a gun! Next time men of God will bring their guns and it'll be an even fight.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  20. Grant

    If history and the bible have taught us anything its that faith in God doesn't protect you from pain and suffering. In fact, when you have faith, you are tested even more. You have only to read the book of Job and you'll see a life of faith isn't meant to be an easy one without pain and suffering.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
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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.