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. LeoTheGreater

    Jesus hated religion and all things clergy: hypocrisy, pretense, devouring widow's property, lengthy show of prayers, rituals,greetings,high seats, supernatural, white washing tombs, decorating graves; religious wingnuts sought to imprison him, throw him over cliffs, stone, whip, beat, mock and crucify him, which is no different than religious wingnuts do to atheists and gays today, esp. in Muslim countries. What part of Religion,Church,Clergy,Rituals, did Jesus love! Or was a member of? NONE!

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

    This whole god debate is hilarious. Why worry about a question that will never give any answer. Plus why worry about going to heaven or hell. When you die your body stays on earth. With out your body you will never be thirsty, feel pain, or get hungry. Why worry about torment when you can't be tormented. Think logically people!

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

      Our idea of logic employs bias, which leads those considered rational and irrational to debate circularly.

      "I could be a racer, quite a steeple chaser
      I can jump a hurdle even with my girdle
      I can open any safe
      With out being caught? Yes, That's what I thought, you crook

      Any note you can hold I can hold longer
      I can hold any note longer than you.
      No you can't, Yes I ca-a-a-a-an, Yes you ca-a-an"

      July 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  3. LeoTheGreater

    Jesus may have been a Jew by birth but he was an Atheist by choice; that's why they tried to kill him. He did not try to "fix" religion because religion was as unfixable then_ as it is unfixable today, the entire religious Laws were corrupted because the Status Quo did not understand how to practice the Law. The punitive Mosaic Law of Revenge, eye for an eye, was not fixable; it was replaced by its correct fulfillment by Jesus, Universal Laws: Forgiveness, Compassion and Love.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  4. Chandler

    "Where was God?" As tragic and terrible as the loss of lives was, I see God clearly in the heroism of those who dove in front of their loved ones- I see God in the gun jamming- I see God in the saving of many more lives than those that were lost- I see God in the miracle of the coinciding birth of one of the victims children- I see God in the human bodies' amazing ability to heal- and I see God in the love that has been shared by strangers all over the world in the support of the victims of this heinous crime

    July 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Peace2All


      You Said: "I see God in the gun jamming"

      Really ? I think you know the door you opened up with this argument.


      July 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  5. Anish Abraham

    Answer to how God allows sufferring

    July 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  6. LeoTheGreater

    Atheism is just beginning around the planet as they come out of the closet. Atheists have been hold up in closets because the believers, you know the great do gooders, have been waiting to kill them for blasphemy as they still do in Muslim 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 kiill them and the gays.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  7. tn

    What in the name of hell does god have to do with this..............hell , there's no damn thing as a god..........get real peoplr !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  8. MercuryCrest

    In the beginning, Man put his hands up to the sun and said, "Let there be God."

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

      Like your comment.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  9. Amazing Grace

    "The secret things belong to Yahweh our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."(D 29:29).

    Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

    Luke 13: 5: " I tell you, no, but, unless you repent, you will all perish in the same way. "

    We don't know why some "innocent" people suffer, but Jesus said clearly in Luke 13:5, we have to repent, or we would perish in the same way!

    Praise the Lord, Jesus is THE way. Perishing physically is NOT scary. Perishing spiritually IS.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  10. cliff

    I fear God has taken His hand of protection from America since she has become a reprobate society. How sad.

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

      I think it was more along the lines of America saying, "God, quit groping."

      July 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • One one

      Are you saying that because we don't worship god enough, he has unleashed the monster (Satan), who he created, upon us to torture us and cause us unimaginable suffering ?

      Do you worship this god that you imagine ?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  11. curiositykilledthecar

    According to the God of Abraham (Moses,Jesus,Muhammad,act.)-busting all the rounds- he's very vengful( if he was real!- in actuality he was in our imaginations (same as he was in the Crusades,black plauge,and holocaust)- thats why bad things happen. remember the only punishment this shooter will ever get is from us! the rest is wishful thinking.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  12. MrHighMighty

    The highest form of evil took place in 33 AD when men crucified God's Son, and yet He stood by and let that happen, as part of His grand plan for his gift to the elect and His ultimate eternal glory. In the same way and for the same reasons, God allows Satan and evil to run their course in this time, to show the results of sin, to distinguish the righteous, and to bring the elect closer to Him. At the end of this Age, these acts and disasters and traumas and sufferings will all pass away, and compared to eternity become nothing at all.

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

    CNN is only reporting the news. Just because Christians are the majority in this country doesn't give them the right to control what is said about their beloved magic man in the sky. Stop quoting the bible in supporting your believe in God, it's ink and pulp, that's all, nothing more. ink and pulp.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  14. Jay

    Ecclesiastes 9:11 and 12
    11 I returned to see under the sun that the swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor; because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all. 12For man also does not know his time. Just like fishes that are being taken in an evil net, and like birds that are being taken in a trap, so the sons of men themselves are being ensnared at a calamitous time, when it falls upon them suddenly.

    We live in the last day's and few find it true. Like the days of Noah.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  15. Will of my own

    Practicing Atheists make it their obsessive mission in life to tell religious people that they are wrong. Religious people think that if they don’t defend god they will be punished. I don’t believe in god, but I’m not going to tell someone else what to believe. I have my reasons for not believing, just as you do for your beliefs. I however am not an Atheist, I am a human being with a will of my own and I leave it at that.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  16. GARY

    No. God was not there. I think we know enough about our world and universe that we can stop believing in magical beings.

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

      Nice comment Gary.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Who me?

      Nice thought Gary,but when %85 of Americans do believe, and %46 think the world was created 6000 years ago you begin to see a problem.No?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  17. Flex

    Yep....let's blame God. When man (he/she) decide to walk away from God, his commandments and recommendations for how to live life, no questions are asked and it's totally OK, however when and if things go wrong, we wonder and have the audacity to ask: Where is God? You do the math, it's very elementary for some, but apparently not for many. Goodness, with all the intellect and technology we have available today, when it comes to common sense, some still fall way short. God help us.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  18. John

    Where was God when I met my soulmate? Where was God when I won 300$? Where was God when my truck loan got approved? He was there... Where was God when I almost lost my leg? Where was God when I had bankruptcy? Where was God when my cat died? He was there... Where was God in the shooting? He was there... The answer to our questions my never be answered the way we want but do know he is there. Thats the true measure of faith! Bless the folks that where hurt. I pray for you too tonight!

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

    time for most of the christians out there to get involved with the "earlychristianwriting.com" and actually learn what the other people who surrounded jesus said. Like the other gospels, like the letters of mary magdelene and especially the gospel of thomas. One has to understand the earl writing had almost none of what the current bible says. Much was added centuries after the fact..Only your fear of the truth will prevent you from reading the early christianwriting.com... Jesus brothers and sisters were very concerned about him. and his teachings...and so was many others..

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

      you know some of those books would be considered fan Fiction today. If it was written 200 or more years after the death of the person it was written about then it probably a fanfic

      July 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  20. Really

    @Grandma " God is Real. Read the Bible"

    Really?? If thats your stance, then wizards are real. Read Harry Potter!

    July 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Mitch Johnson

      There is no God just like there are no Unicorns.
      Why do people still believe in fairy tales in this modern age?

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

      Not if she burns the Potter books first.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:12 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.