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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. jma58

    Just like everything else on this planet, it is a sequence of natural occurance. There is no majic man up there and we are not nearly as important as we think we are.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  2. LeoTheGreater

    BAN THE NRA

    July 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  3. crashingwaves

    It does no good to talk with non believers. They always want Christians to prove he exists instead of finding out for themselves.I didn't need anyone, prove to me that God existed, I found out on my own. I searched for truth and found it on my own. God is not going to make himself know to non believers who choose to mock & ridicule his existence, instead of searching for him on their own.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • nacus

      how do you know this. Continue reading the bible or the couran (sorry I don't know how to spell it) the couran kills people and woman, woman to the muslims are just a piece of scrap to make babies and that is it, they have to wear hijabs and veils. I don't think that is what god wants.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • melena

      His mercy and grace extends to the believers and non-believers, and He tells us not to cast pearls to the swine.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Chris

      This is not a good stance to have. everything you enjoy today is the product of empirical studies conducted by multiple people over a period of time. if every person only listened to themselves all the time, the world would not have civilization.

      I know its hard in a world full of things that exist, but cant be seen with the naked eye or understood without complex math, but believing in a magic man to make sense of it all is just another form of giving up, saying that if i cant understand it it cannot exist. You can do better.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • BobInIrvine

      And another example of why Christians think their religion is the ONLY religion, and thus a good reason for them to kill in the name of God. Yikes.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Good post crashingwaves. Besides atheists being arrogant and blinded to His truth, they are lazy above everything else as they truly believe that they as a group are mini-gods. LOL. Satan lied to the Jews first as a group after Eve was deceived... then to the entire world. As they follow liars that claim they are Jews and are not.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • QS

      "God is not going to make himself know to non believers who choose to mock & ridicule his existence, instead of searching for him on their own."

      The funny thing is that you honestly believe your own preferred version of "god" has "made himself known to you" and just happened to be exactly what you thought it would be....how convenient.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  4. LeoTheGreater

    Easy access to guns for ego maniacs who couldn't stand up to a fist between the eyes needs the gun lobby to make their stupidity demonstrable. Ban all rapid fire assault weapons from being manufactured for the public arena. Make nuclear grenades instead. The Gun lobby are a bunch of praying mantis to a make believe god myth who blames the victims for any gun death that occurs. Colorado the gun lobby says sorry but you deserved what you got.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  5. us_1776

    Same place he is anyplace else. Non-existent.

    .

    July 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  6. nacus

    there is no god. If the big bang theory is correct the universe was made by one atom. Steve hawkins once believed in god, but now doesn't. We are just a bunch of atoms in the universe. No god no nothing

    July 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • John Gault

      I prefer "we are simply the children of history presented with a great opportunity and will live and die depending how we use that opportunity". The cosmos is indifferent to our joy or suffering, you make your own.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  7. Steven

    That's one of the biggest lies ever, that God wanted something like this to happen. Total absurdity. God loves. God is love. We are the ones making the choices. If I love then I won't murder. If I don't love then I probably don't care what happens to my fellow human. If you see a man who is starving and say "hope you can get some food" and have a whole basket or wallet full or money to help him with and you don't who is causing the man to still go hungry? We can do something to solve all these ills but for the most part (myself included, I am no saint by any means) we don't. Believing in God is choosing to live in a way where you love instead of hate, where you choose the other instead of yourself. Why do you think there are so many anti-Christians in America? It's the most self centered society in the world. The self is what's wrong, not God. If we open up to receive God we are transformed, renewed, to our original state, which was full of love, joy, peace, patience, and goodness towards all things. That's heaven. Hell is no love. Hell is being self centered. Hell is hate. Those things in the here and now and all the result of our collectively being disconnected from the source of life, God.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Rick

      As a Muslim, I completely agree with you. Peace 🙂

      July 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • BobInIrvine

      "Believing in God is choosing to live in a way where you love instead of hate, where you choose the other instead of yourself. Why do you think there are so many anti-Christians in America? "

      Self-centered? You equate belief in God as Christian? There are no others who believe in God?

      This is a perfect illustration of how religion can subvert peace.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • nacus

      Continue to believe it. With all the holy wars on earth just continue to believe that we have a god.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • personmandudeguy

      I agree with this post. God is love. God let's mankind choose for himself his fate and choices regarding temptation. Temptation is evil and nothing to do with God.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Steven

      II can't for people outside of the Christian tradition. Mother Teresea often said she loved all religions but only could speak about her own. I do not know if God exists in other faiths, it is my hope that God is accessible to all but I can't speak on that and say without a doubt it's fact. Love, peace, mercy all come from God. People who point out all the evil done in the name of religion forget all the good that is done in the name of religion and all the evil done with no name at all. Like I posted before the Holocaust is probably the worst human tragedy as well as WWII in history but it was led by an atheist, demented, power hungry, greedy man, nothing else. Again we can choose to blame God or not, but we have to ask ourselves, who really caused this?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Griffy

      In my opinion there are anti-Christians because of what the Christians are doing in the name of their God. For example their stance on civil unions in the LGBT community, the Catholic Church's scandal where Priests are allowed to get away with abusing innocent children. Also, all the talk about putting the Ten Commandments in public buildings and bringing prayer into public schools. The Christian community is trying to make changes to public policies and laws forcing the rest of us to comply with their beliefs. If Christians are having problems getting people to come to church willingly they only need to take a good look at what they are been doing to try and control society for the past 40 years starting with fighting the Equal Rights Amendment and overturn Roe v Wade.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • QS

      "Believing in God is choosing to live in a way where you love instead of hate."

      Ah the self-righteousness of the religious. I can prove this is false with one simple statement – believers are some of the biggest haters known to man.

      Belief is not synonymous with love, just as religion is not synonymous with morality.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  8. Sharron Hawkins

    God has been taken out of schools, ballgames and government meetings but yet when something like this happens people want to say where is God. He is right where he has always been, right there beside us. He was ho,di g that 6 year in his arms when she took her last breath, he smiled and held the hands of all the others. We make the choice to have him in our heart. God gives Satan a ,imited amount of power but humans takes that power and does his work making it more severe. It is time for our country to turn back to God, bring him back into our homes,schools and every other public place. God is till on the throne we just have to chose to be with him. For those that do not believe in him sorry not if you're offended but sorry you will not know his love.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • John Gault

      No apologies necessary, we're good with our contradictory opinion....

      July 24, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • BobInIrvine

      Based on this illogic, let's go back in time. In 1995, we arguably were a more religious country (the Moral Majority was in full swing). So please explain Oklahoma City. Where was God?

      July 24, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • John Gault

      Oh, and Timothy McVeigh also claimed to be a Christian. I'm guessing he used the Old Testament as a textbook for the horror he created.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  9. drewzg

    where was g*d during the Holocaust or WWI or WWII or any other event of mass human casualty. a higher being is just that, something we can't even being to rationalize nor understand. that is why its called faith

    July 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  10. John Gault

    Is He willing to prevent evil but not able? Then He is impotent
    Is He able but not willing? Then He is malevolent.
    Is He both able and willing? What then is evil?
    Epicurus

    July 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  11. Robert

    There is no God. End of discussion.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • John Gault

      Sometimes the simplest explanation is the most correct.........

      July 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  12. Robert

    The Bible tells us that God is sovereign over all things, yet He is never the author of sin. How do we understand this? How does one understand infinity? We as humans are not expected to understand this because the God is not a creature to be studied and understood. Rather, the knowledge of God is something that should humble us.

    As for justice, the Bible tells us that we are all sinners and all under the curse of sin. No one deserves the mercy of God, but yet He makes it available to whosoever will call upon Him. Jesus said, "whoever comes to me I will in no wise cast out." (John chapeter 6)

    So why does God let such things happen? The answer is that we don't know exactly why. The things revealed belong to us, but the things hidden belong to God. God is always there and God is always in control. Often in the Biblical narratives, His specific purposes are only revealed generations after an event occurs. But one thing we do know is that events like these are one of the many ways that God chooses to take His children out of this wretched world and home to heaven. Events like these are also the means that God used to call others to judgement; ones who have not trusted in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins. So the question really isn't, "where was God?" Rather, the question is, what will we do? Will we continue to take a chance that we won't die suddenly by being shot in a theater by a mad man, or will we come to Christ, confess that we have sinned and ask for the forgiveness of sin that He so richly gives all who come to Him. God is abundant in lovingkindness and grace. "All who come to Me, I will in no wise cast out." (Jesus, as recorded in the gospel of John, 6)

    July 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • John Gault

      Maybe you don't know exactly why.....

      July 24, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  13. Rick

    Humans have been given free will. We can choose to do good, or choose to do evil. in the End, all of us will be judged by God (Creator of the Universe) and will be rewarded and punished accordingly, but remember He is also the Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. so do good, try your best, and have faith in Him. and remember all humans have to die, whether it be by disease, car accident, being shot in a theater, etc.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Na

      there's the problem right there... I am good, and I do good. I give to the poor, am humble and respectful of others and of everyone... but, I will go to hell because I don't believe in God. Being Christian-like or being a good person does not require believing in God.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  14. Truth is great

    Holocaust was a punishment from God for Jews making the Romans kill Jesus and denied him !
    Tsunami in S. E. Asia was punishment from God for Buddhists not believe in one God.

    Holocaust was a punishment from God for Jews making the Romans kill Jesus and denied him !
    Tsunami in S. E. Asia was punishment from God for Buddhists not believe in one God.

    Holocaust was a punishment from God for Jews making the Romans kill Jesus and denied him !
    Tsunami in S. E. Asia was punishment from God for Buddhists not believe in one God.

    Holocaust was a punishment from God for Jews making the Romans kill Jesus and denied him !
    Tsunami in S. E. Asia was punishment from God for Buddhists not believe in one God.

    Holocaust was a punishment from God for Jews making the Romans kill Jesus and denied him !
    Tsunami in S. E. Asia was punishment from God for Buddhists not believe in one God.

    Holocaust was a punishment from God for Jews making the Romans kill Jesus and denied him !
    Tsunami in S. E. Asia was punishment from God for Buddhists not believe in one God.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • drewzg

      how do you explain that thousands of christians were killed in both events you listed? How do you explain why priests, in the name of christianity, rapped and molested thousands of children? Don't start, bc i can go on and on and on and on

      July 24, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • John Gault

      If there was a God you'd be dead by now.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Robert

      And death and eternity in Hell is God's judgement on all (i.e., Jew, Gentile, white people, black people, asian people and any other people) who continue in their arrogance (especially ones who point fingers at others such as holocuast and tsuanami victims) refusing to humble themselves, admit their sin and ask Christ to "have mercy on me, the sinner."

      July 24, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • BobInIrvine

      "Robert
      And death and eternity in Hell is God's judgement on all (i.e., Jew, Gentile, white people, black people, asian people and any other people) who continue in their arrogance (especially ones who point fingers at others such as holocuast and tsuanami victims) refusing to humble themselves, admit their sin and ask Christ to "have mercy on me, the sinner.""

      So, you believe that your religion is better than mine. Typical. And this is how religion causes DEATH and WAR.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Steven

      That's very untrue. God does not punish. God does not seek revenge. Think about what God did through Jesus. Jesus being equal to God comes to Earth to heal, to feed, to teach people, most hate Him, spit on Him, accuse Him, finally arrest Him, torture Him, and nail Him to a tree, does that sound like a vengeful God? Quite the contrary, God allows man to kill Jesus so that Jesus can reconnect us to Him and we are still unconvinced of His love. When I was shown this I was amazed at how much love God has for us.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Steven

      Robert, unture. Death is unnatural, not created by God. Man chose death. As for hell, hell is being like we are now forever. It is refusing to accept life, choosing to be self absorbed. The doors of hell are locked from the inside. God sends no one to hell. People choose it.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  15. From the Rocky Mountain Region

    First, prayer is needed for acceptance / healing, not necessarily understanding. Second, if man's fall from grace ( i.e. "original sin", "eating of the apple", etc) hadn't occured, where would humanity be today? Would there be murder? Would humanity be living in Eden? Third, since man did fall from grace, maybe there is a bigger picture to see. Humans could not get it right in the Old Testament, lots of laws and rituals. The New Testament came along and says believe in the Lord and live according to the manner / method exhibited by Christ. This is part of the bigger picture, for just a moment think about a world where man and woman live according the manner exhibited by Christ. There is a slight catch to living in this type of world, man and woman have to use free will in the same manner as Christ and that present issues for humanity. Yes there is circular logic here, if you don't understand then take a few moments to think.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  16. Cxpage

    If God exists then he is directly responsible for the shootings and should be charged as a co-conspirator. Any being that could have stopped this massacre but chose to take part in it instead is pure evil and should not be revered or worshipped. He should be brought to justice for crimes against humanity.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  17. gaucho420

    Colorado? How about in Syria? Or in Africa? Or throughout history...there is no god, for god's sake!

    July 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Deb1952

      God is there at every one of those places, with everyone of those people. He offered His strength and love in a time of great tribulation for all of those people who have been affected by Aurora, Columbine, Syria, Egypt or Africa. He does not require that we accept His offer.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  18. Dentson

    It's far too early for the 'believers' to start accepting the truth about a supreme being and religion. In 100 years almost no one will believe in a god, they will believe in themselves. A god was created by man, so it can be dispelled by us as well.
    Religion is good for community and getting together, but omg how their leaders always abuse their power.

    Bow, praise and worship are all indications of fear of the unknown. I doubt you even understand what subyugative life you are leading serving that old man in the sky. George Carlin once said he was not impressed with the resume of your god, neither am I. This whole shooting proves man is greater than god, for if god was great, there would be no evil in the world. A whacko with guns shot dead 12 innocents and god was playing the back 9 at heavenly links.

    Get used to it and stop living your life in fear of an absent god, only then you'll be happy.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  19. Melissa

    God was sitting in each and every seat in that movie theather. He was right there as sad as any of us. He gave man free will and we can not blame God for this but be glad be took each victim into his care,

    July 24, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • From the Rocky Mountain Region

      Very good point!

      July 24, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Tyler

      Some people may blame him for not intervening. There are those who ask if God is all powerful why does an all-powerful being allow evil to exist to begin with–assuming you call this God benevolent. A answer I hear often is the answer of choice. People are given a choice. Except followers usually give God an omniscience characteristic as well. So if God knows what you are going to choose because he knows everything, do you still have free will. And if you don't, then you are still left with why bad things happen to good people; why does suffering persist.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  20. WhatsTheTruth

    Where was GOD in this horrible massacre? That is a very good question. A lot of people have a tendency to blame GOD for everything bad that is happening in the world and since GOD is all powerful its understanding why. But according to GODs word the Bible, what is GODs roll in our violent and destructive world today? Before I start, I am extremely sadden by this shooting and all shootings across America. Big or small. But here is the truth:
    Its not that GOD wants more Angels in heaven. He has myriads and myriads of angels in heaven (Revelations 5:11).
    In the Garden of Eden, satan implied that mankind would be better off without GODs rulership. So he pushed his agenda which caused a vital issue was raised when Adam and Eve rebelled against Jehovah. In effect, they said:"We do not need Jehovah GOD as our Ruler. We can decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong." Now how could GOD really effectively settle this issue? What will you do if it was you? How could he teach all intelligent creatures(remember even the Angels were witness to this) that the rebels were wrong? Some say that he could of just destroyed the rebels and made a fresh start. Keep in mind GOD wanted us to live on earth in a earthy paradise(Gensis 1:28). GOD always fulfills his purposes(Isaiah 55:10). Also getting rid of the rebels in Eden would not have answered the question that was raised for GODs right to rule. So right now under Satan's control man is ruling himself. That is why despite our technology the human race still has not solved all our problems.

    So please consider two things that Jehovah has decided not to do.
    With Satan controlling this system trying to prove his point he did not stop Satan and those who sided with him from trying to prove that he is right. An despite thousands of years of human history injustice, poverty, crime, war and man made disasters has grown ever worst. Human rule has been shown to be a utter failure.

    Second, Jehovah has not helped Satan to rule this world. If GOD were to prevent horrible crimes, for instance, would he not in effect be supporting the case of the rebels? Would GOD not be making people think that perhaps humans can govern themselves without disastrous results? If Jehovah were to act in that way, he would become party to a lie. That is why GOD does not step in right now. But despite all this we have much to look forward to. We do well to remember that Jehovah is almighty. He can and will undo the effects of mankind's suffering.(1 John 3:8) In such darkness that piece of truth is the only light in the tunnel. If you want to learn more about the truth please let me know.

    July 24, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Aaron_of_Portsmouth

      When any of us announces himself/herself as the source of truth then a serious reconsideration is needed. Although I have experience with a new Message for this Day and Age, it is best for me to inquire if someone wants to hear of it and then explore it with that person if they show an interest. To announce boldly that I have "The Truth" is a bit of hubris. The message of Baha'u'llah, from my perspective, brings a sense of clarity of why man's inhumanity to man occurs repeatedly. All the Religions address this theme; they just do it in different ways depending on the capacity of the people for the particular era in which they are revealed. Each of the Messengers of God(Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus, Krishna, Moses, to name a few) is a "Divine Physician" for Their time, prescribing a solution depending on the exigencies of that time. When the illness takes on a different aspect, a new medicine is required. Up to now we have been using a medicine not intended to deal with the nature of the illness the world society faces today. Is it the Doctor's fault that the patient(world society) refuses to take the Medicine required of this Age? Blasting quotes at each other and denying the Source of Existence(God, Allah, Jehovah, or whatever name we wish to use) does nothing to address the problem. Although I'm not as smart as others, I do know of some things that might prove beneficial. Together we must search the truth. I'm not the sole repository of Truth, nor is anyone else-that status belongs to the Messengers of God.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:31 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.