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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. It happened again

    I've got news for you folks. The massacre happened because of the worship of guns and violence in the U.S. and someone had easy access to the weaponry to pull off the massacre. Simple as that. It will happen again by the way. More pain, more loss of loved ones, more "moments for reflection". Reflection on what?? Talk about inertia! The massacres and pain will keep happening until the will to bring about change overrides the power of the NRA. If this ever happens, it will take longer than our life times. Sorry.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Actually the 3 largest massacres in history happened in countries outside the US, with stricter gun control laws than our's. So you are partially correct.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Andrew

      Removing 1 tool of murder will not solve the problem you are explaining. The problem is the person carrying out the act. We need to find ways to prevent the person from ever committing the act in the first place. Not only to save lives but to save the life of the culprit himself. He has essentially forfeit his existence the second he decided to take the the lives of others.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • El Diablo con Queso

      The massacre happened because the guy is a nut job.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  2. Andrew

    Does anyone read the bible? He stopped having an active role after the old testament.

    Not like we want him having an active role since he kind of constantly killed people in mass often.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      No "he" stopped LONG before that. Archaelogists know EXACTLY when they cooked up Genesis, and where, and why, and how. If the bible thumpers knew ONE thing about Ancient History, and Archaeology they would buy the line for a minute.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      would NOT

      July 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  3. kris

    I do not understand the Christian concept that we are all sinners. How? If you are an adult, then you may commit sins, but there was a 6-year old girl who was killed and few months-old baby who was injured in this shooting. They are no sinners in this life, how do the christians explain that? It could only be explained through karma acquired over several reincarnations.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Andrew

      We all carry the original sin of Adam and Eve of disobeying god so he made us mortal and live lives full of pain and suffering.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Religousless

      @Andrew Did they ever find adam and eve's remains? Didn't think so cause they are as real as the bogeyman living under my bed.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Steven

      Kris sin is not doing something morally wrong, it's being disconnected from God, which all human are brought into this world. The poor little girl who was killed in the movie theater did nothing wrong, she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I hope God is hugging her right now.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • pntkl

      For a lot of Christians, they profess original sin. They say, "Born in sin, come on in." However, that is a fallacy, an imposition of will by the sinner, over the innocent. From that, faith in God and religions for God(s) can be considered, in large part, mutually exclusive. To quote James, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

      July 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Andrew

      I'm agnostic so you can spew stuff at me I already know.

      I'm simply answering the question posed here. While it may not be fact to me its still the correct answer to that question. Sorry you have such hatred towards those who choose to follow the religion you instantly need to attack those who appear to follow it.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Religousless

      Dont have any "hatred" to those who believe in god or any other religion but when people use religion to justify their actions or use an excuse how can one not develop "ill will" towards its foundations? Do you not have hatred towards all of the terrorist who suicide bomb hundreds of innocent people in the name of Allah to sleep with 30 virgins"

      July 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  4. LT

    Where was God in Aurora Massacre? How about why not thank God for the survivors???? The Bible says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son Jesus that whomsoever believes on him will have eternal life. Every human being has a free will. We choose to do good or we choose to do evil. But every human being will give an account of the choices made in life. Choose eternal life TODAY and except the free gift that Christ has provided for you.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • El Diablo con Queso

      So you accept that Mr. Holmes could accept Christ, repent and he would hold hands with you in heaven?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Jean

      El Diablo – I accept that Holmes can repent, accept Christ and that God will judge him at the end of his life. Who knows, perhaps he will join El Diablo in Hell not Heaven.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  5. Jean

    God gave us the freedom of choice or will. If God always intervened to prevent evil, then we would not have freedom of choice nor the ability to discern the difference between right and wrong, good and evil or love and hate.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Steven

      And we'd become annoyed at God for "butting in" all the time. If God came down to prevent every tragedy in existence people would still complain and create stink.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Jean

      Steve – well, there is the rub. You see if God intervenes and prevents all evil and your ability to choose, then you wouldn't even KNOW he had intervened. If you don't have a choice, then there is nothing for him to "butt in" on. One can only "complain" if they know the difference between better and worse, good and bad, happy and sad. The alternative is something akin to a robot.......

      July 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  6. the420bucsfan

    wow CNN attack religion like that! Where was ALLAH WHEN ALL THOSE INNOCENT WOMAN AND CHILDREN WERE (AND STILL ARE) GETTING BLOWN TO PIECES BY CAR BOMBS? t his has no place to be attacking religion!

    July 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  7. alterink

    it"s interesting that we want God to solve all the ills of the world but people are the ones that cause the devastation and tragedies of this world, we are the ones that should ask "how could I allow this to happen?" if you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Indiarichard

      I agree. If we are to be in any way the children of God then it is our responsibility to act like godly children.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  8. Luke

    Wow it's sad reading some comments here of atheists attacking God, their creator.

    No God = No life

    July 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • noevidence

      It is eq

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

      It is equally sad to see so many posts from people blindly and irrationally defending a god that doesn't exist. Belief in god = lack of reality, reason, accountability, and everything else that is real in this life.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Who me?

      Sorry to ruin your evening tea.But rather than feel sad that people are getting very tired of religious rhetoric ,why don't you try to offer one good reason why anyone should,or would want to ,believe in a creator?It is not the least bit strange that the convoluted logic of god believers is starting to crumble in the age of the internet.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Religousless

      Pretty sure god is not my creator. They're is more evidence/fact that we originated from apes than some thing named "god." Evidence is the key word. You might want to check out the Large Hadron Collider and the Higgs-boson. Scientists are coming pretty close to figuring out our universe/humans origin. Its interest stuff but since it doesnt mention God, Jesus or the bible you wont read about it.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  9. Alanna Thomas

    God's original plan was for man to live in peace and harmony, never to experience pain, suffering, or sorrow. According to Genesis chapter three, it wasn't until man chose the way of Satan, rather than the way of God, that suffering and sorrow entered the world. Man fell into temptation and sinned against God in Genesis 3: 6-7, and God reveals to Adam and Eve the consequences of sin (suffering, sorrow, and death) in Genesis 3: 16-19. Therefore, any suffering and sorrow that we face today is not the work of an unjust God; suffering and sorrow are the consequences of sin. We suffer and die because we're sinners. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." There is a glorious day coming for those who believe and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, for they have been saved by grace THROUGH FAITH in the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is God. He alone is Savior. So, why does He allow pain, suffering, sorrow, and death? Because He's showing us that if we separate from Him here on Earth, then we are destined for an eternal life in Hell. God doesn't enjoy seeing anyone suffer, but He allows it so that we, as human sinners, see our desperate need to receive Jesus Christ as our one and only savior. God allows tragedy so that we look to Him for salvation. James Holmes clearly chose the way of Satan, rather than the way of God, and the consequences of his sins were - sadly - suffering, sorrow, and death. If he chose the way of God, then this tragedy would've never occurred. God is good and faithful. If something is NOT good, then it is not of God. Jesus Christ suffered for us all so that we might have eternal life. Suffering and death entered the world because of our human sin, but if we believe in His name, we can escape an eternity in Hell as a consequence of our sin. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). Those who believe and repent should look forward to what the Bible says in Revelation 21:4: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." So, where was God in Aurora? He was there all along, weeping for those who were affected by James Holmes' choice to follow Satan. It didn't have to be that way.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Bullsh1t. Every bit of it. Too bad you never studied the bible.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • El Diablo con Queso

      The great thing about this is that it absolves everyone of responsibility for their actions. Even Mr. Holmes could repent accept Christ and ask for forgiveness and you'd have to hold hands with him in heaven.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Carl

      This "god" sure does have a lot of plans fall apart spectacularly. You might want to call him something else. I think Tony Robbins' miracles have a better success rate, so try to think of something slightly less respectable than that.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  10. Marwi

    Thank God atheism will expire and die out soon from this world. Many nonbelievers realize their big mistake and seek God.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Prove it. Atheism is on the increase. Religion is on the decline. Take your pills sweetie. Nurse Ratchet is looking for you.

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

      Atheists are getting saved and set free everyday.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Marwi

      You may want to do some 'fact checking' before posting inaccuracies.

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • El Diablo con Queso

      The number of people identifying themselves as atheist or agnostic has grown significantly.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Carl

      Is this the same kind of "soon" as is used by Christians who keep claiming that Jesus will return "soon"? I don't think that word means what you think it means.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  11. Arne

    'god', any god, is nothing more than a comforting delusion. Always has been, always will be.

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

      Not necessarily. Sometimes it is a terrifying delusion, but only to those who actually read their books.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  12. NJ

    The Bible says that there will be both good and bad things happening in this short-lived life on Earth. "Blessed are those who have not yet seen me" – Jesus Christ

    July 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Delrider

      OMG, The bible says.... Weak.

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

      The toilet I biffed in today had a lot of things written on it, but I don't go around repeating any of THAT.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  13. Rationalist

    God is imaginary. Christians are in for a rude awakening when they expire. Pun intended.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • alterink

      i will pray for you

      July 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  14. LeoTheGreater

    In the beginning God said, "What the hell is that noise, a very Big Bang."

    July 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  15. Muzzie

    God was busy with the Higgs Boson.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  16. Delrider

    What happened in Aurora is nothing compared to the thousands of massacres and brutality that takes place in the world every day. How can these fanatics say that God I'd love and he has a plan? There is no God, no Santa, no fairy godmother and no sandman. No Easter Bunny, no lepricons or mermaids either. No Greek gods and no super heroes. Mankind would like to think there is a magic man in the sky but sorry, it isn't so.

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

      One of those things is not like the others. There actually was a man named Nicholas, distorted as his reputation may be among children.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  17. morgan

    God has been ordered OUT of most every building in America save the churches.

    The atheists have pressured the government to pass laws stating god is not welcome so he stands outside looking in wishing people would accept him and allow him to intervene in their lives.

    Too many people only want him in their lives when something goes wrong then for the first time in years they cry out to him for help.

    God doesn't smack people in the head and make them behave. He gave them freedom to choose and choose they do. Sadly they often chose the evil.

    Rather then blame god for standing back, blame the one who brought evil to a perfect world and messed up everything.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      And just who would that be ? Be sure to include the proof.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Carl

      worthless drivel.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Who me?

      Could you possibly mean the biblical character Eve=evil.?.So, if It hadn't been for the first woman in the book we'd all be perfect.Ho-boy..

      July 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  18. Booggaloo

    God did not creat Satan. Satan was once an angel who turned against God and God banished him to hell. Read "23 Minutes in HELL" by Bill Wiese and you'll learn all about Satan and where the evil people of this earth go when all is said and done.
    The perpetrator in Aurora will meet his fate in the end. Don't loose faith in the good and loving God who is always there for us. It's all in the choices that we as people make that decides what is going to happen here on earth. If you choose evil you will pay in the end. Shame on you for blaming our good and loving God for the evil choices of humans. It isn't God who puts the guns in mans hands. It's man himself with the help of Satan who puts these guns in mans hands. It's man's bad choices.
    people need to put down the guns and pick up bible to know what God is all about.

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

      How can grown adults believe this stuff?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  19. Jeff

    Your arguments that there is no God are based on the same arguments that we make that there is a God, it is what we believe. You shove your non-belief down our throats as much as we shove religion down yours. It's a two way street. I believe in God. I believe in Christ and that he is my redeemer and savior. If you choose not to believe that fine, God gave you free will to make that choice. With my beliefs and faith, I feel sorry for your soul and hope you change. Free will also allowed him to shoot those people. He chose it.

    Personally I feel if you believe in nothing, you really are nothing. Personally, I don't believe in atheists. Being that here your opinion is merited as fact (within your own logic), then my opinion here is fact, and you do not exist either.

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

      You call your mental illness, belief.

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

      Atheism is just beginning around the planet as they come out of the closest. Atheists have been hold up in closets because the believers, you know the great do gooders have been waiting to kill them as they still do in Muslims countries today. Jesus was an atheist and was crucified because he came out of the closet to release the world from the believers in the supernatural gods of men waiting to k,ill them and the gays.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • butterflyonmyhip

      The idea behind Jeff's comment made me smile a little, I've been thinking along those lines for years. I'm a Pagan and deffinitely not out out of my closet yet, but I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who's noticed the concept of belief creating belief. If you believe it, it will always be true to you. In the end, however, it doesn't matter which, if any, gods, goddesses, or otherwise were present at the massacre. What matters is how we rise up to deal with this great tradgedy. Blessed be.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Jeff

      @Leo, Jesus was an atheist? Wow, you are more misinformed than I really thought. Also, due to your grammar while trying to make an intelligent point, you prove your ignorance even more.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  20. Tina

    I love reading the atheistic comments here LOL.... feel bad for their suffering when they die 🙂

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

      Ah yes, the bizzare Christian superst.ition of hell. I don't have to kill, I don't have to rob, I don't even have to litter. All I need is an honest, rational and reasonable disbelief in the christian god and he will burn me for all eternity – a punishment a billion times worse than the death penalty. And he loves me.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • El Diablo con Queso

      You're smiley face shows an arrogant pride, but you are saved right?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      hell is interesting
      The fires of Gehenna, got merged with Sheol, and Haedes. The fire of Gehenna was the constant fire in the pile of trash, and animal carcasses outside Jerusalem. It stunk, to high heaven, (kind of like Cairo does today). Of course suffering requires the dimensions of spacetime, which only exists in this universe. How pathetic this myth is.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Who me?

      ,..No you don't .You are giggling with delight at the idea of millions of people being tormented for eternity.Nice little christian that you are..LOL

      July 24, 2012 at 7:34 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.