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. asdmi

    God hates you all. I'm not even religious and I know where gods plan is. Bring forth tragedy to give u people a a means to actually do what you preach and fail to do everytime. Forgive. I say burn the killer and you can all go with him.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Peace2All

      Kidding, I hope ?


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

    God has NO obligation to do things as we will. Or HE would not be God. HE would be our servant.

    Sinful people choose to be separated from God. Repent our sins before we ask for blessings.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • One one

      That's a good tip. Thanks for passing it along.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • noevidence

      Now there is a religious person that I can tolerate. Humble, and coherent.. even if shackled by that annoying shroud of linguistics and mythical ethos. I think there is a simpler way to understand the world, and it involves less capitalization and imaginary beings, but maybe that's just me.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Fred

      Oh I get it.

      He's the world's first dead-beat dad? Kids but no real obligation.

      Thanks for setting me straight.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      May I assume you are working to separate the 700,000+ believers that get an abortion each year in the USA from their god? How nice.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  3. Questioning

    If god is pure, incapable of evil and who created everything then how could he create man who is capable of evil? How would god even know what evil is? If man created evil by his own choices then who decides what evil is? Man does. I'm no bible scholar or have that much knowledge of the bible but the bible was written by man, not god. What else has been written by man that proved to be a lie? Why is it god, or jesus, decided to visit only that one specific part of the world? Did he not feel it prudent to also educate the Naitive Americans and other civilizations that still worshipped multiple gods. Oh no it was decided for those who were touched to educate the rest of the world. Seems a bit like one nation conquering another and invoking their specific rules and laws. I'm not one to say there is or isn't a god but for me the evidence points to no.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • One one

      You don't need to be a biblical scholar to figure this out. A 6 yo could if they had not been indoctrinated first.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  4. garrettspeaks

    Why is this even an issue? Death is a thing to be liked if you believe in a deity. Hell, the only reason a good section of the human population even still is alive is because it's been made a "sin" to commit suicide. Logically if you believe in the rituals that lead to your eternal paradise after death then you should just kill yourself now and be happy. The families of victims don't seem to have much faith, otherwise they would walk up to the murder of their family members and shake his hand saying "Thank you, my family member is now in Heaven! Thank you so much for killing them!"

    July 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  5. gram49

    The ACLU said God can't be in public places.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  6. noevidence

    Maybe god was not there because we have let gay people marry, or some such drivel. Ask Pat Robertson, I'm sure he's talked with him over the weekend and found out specifically why this happened. We obviously have no idea, because god hasn't given any of us his cell phone number except Pat, cause he's so special.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  7. blaqb0x

    Where was God when that great flood drowned hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children? Oh, wait....

    July 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • noevidence

      No no, please.. Go on. Where was he/she/it? As far as I can tell, the story just went on and on and on, and then ended with an acid trip. Is that your source?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  8. Vickie

    God does not intervene and he does not punish ; however, God does help us get through tragedies through our faith. He's there to help us pick up the pieces and go on.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  9. James

    God gave us free will which you can say is almost a cop out on his part. He put us here yet he takes no responsibility for the terrible things humans can do. I think he's hoping and waiting for a time when we really all can get along as a species. I do believe that time will come some day but not for a VERY long time.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  10. Joe Roszin

    Where is God?
    I can not put God in a nutshell, nor attempt to explain Him in one. Knowing God takes some study in the book that describes Him best, the Bible. The more we understand the infinite, the more we the finite creation soon discover that we still have more to learn.

    I can say with confidence that God does not condone nor interfere with the free will of individuals. This life that has been given to us is ours to crap on if we choose. The purpose of life is to choose His will over ours and his way over our choices His grace will trump our sin/disobedience is we seek it.

    As Christians we follow Jesus Christ who was crucified and he told us to pick up our cross and follow him. He offers peace, but not freedom, he offers love but never stops hate, and he told us to feed our enemy if he is hungry.

    Now none of this makes much sense when you’re shocked by the intensity of evil. But, I can tell you it is not a game of pretend to trust him and accept his teaching, it is real.

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

    In short, there is no god. Obviously.

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

    Nowhere, same as always.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  13. Ilias

    Good and evil are man made words for light and less light. The human soul was given the faculties of body and mind to see this show of life.The uncontrolled mind is a world of darkness. This is a world of action and reaction and the soul bears the consequence for forgetting where it came from and allowing the faculties of the mind to take control. Our experience with other human souls is a consequence of many life times of interaction – good and bad. Our ancestors figured this out many thousands of years ago and it is only the present organized religions that keep it secret. Modern scientists are now finding that this world is just an illusion. There would be no purpose to seperate from the creator if everything were good. The challenge is to remember where we came from and purify the mind and soul and go back to the source in spiritual love. Union – Soul and Creator of the soul.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Peace2All


      A mix of meta-physical Hinduism, Buddhism, with a touch of Taoism.

      Your posting is just as much of a 'belief' system as the monotheistic religions, but... it certainly sounds better in a lot of ways.


      July 24, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  14. Andy Christensen

    Jesus said in this world we will have trouble. But take heart; He has overcome the world.

    I am praying for the families of the victims, that they would be comforted.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  15. refinethemachine

    For being loving and compassionate, you "followers" sure are a defensive and angry group of unaccepting closed minded people.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • A homeless guy with a Bible

      yes... i prefer it that way...... Bible school was WAY easier than med school

      July 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
      • refinethemachine

        "Practice what you preech, turn the other cheek" The school I learned from is experience. Brethren if this world is yours as it is mine, hopefully we can find peace. The turmoil created by religion is enough to turn me into an agnostic and a lover. And I love my life! As well as the people in it! I love you!

        July 25, 2012 at 8:21 am |
  16. Angelo

    Well, we know where satan was. Inside James Holmes.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  17. jasim

    is death really that bad? If anyone really wants to know if there is or isn't a God than we have to die to find out. OR use our brains and look at the evidence and make an educated guess. The biggest problem with people is they personify God; it has anything but any "created" traits. He free of any need including our prayers and wishes, its in HIS essence to be benevolent and all powerful. The sooner we realize that we are on HIS mercy and powerless against His will the easier it becomes to accept the realities of life.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • LeoTheGreater

      The reality of life is that immortality is just around the corner of righteousness waiting for the time mankind stops killing for a cause and starts living for the cause.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  18. More

    Where was God? This happen cause man allows it by sin. Sin will come to a end by God. Till then more deaths to come.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • sam

      You just made us all dumber because we read that.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  19. LeoTheGreater

    Tell me what part of Religion, the Church, Clergy, Rituals, Jesus loved! Or was a member of? NONE! Because Jesus was an atheist and the religious wingnuts of his day sought to imprison him, throw him over cliffs, stone him, whip him, beat him, mock him and crucify him, which is no different than religious wingnuts do today to atheists and gays alike, especially in Muslim countries.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  20. Matthew

    Why provoke this issue? We all know what the answers will look like. I and other believers will defend God and Christianity, and nonbelievers will attack God and Christianity.

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

      Mark 16:15-16

      15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
      16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.


      July 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • LeoTheGreater

      We attack the mental illness of religion and the ludicrous claims to support supernaturalism. We don't attack people who we think have a great chance to find redemtion in knoledge instead of belief which can never set you free as knowledge.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:16 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.