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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. haha

    I was at the mall with my friends when I was in like 11th grade and a religious dude came up and was trying to convince me that god existed. His major argument was that evolution is bs. His main argument for that was him repeatedly asking me how come a video camera can't evolve over time, which is really f ing uneducated. But anyway I humored him and said "Cameras can not evolve because they do not contain DNA. When DNA is being replicated in an organism through the use of DNA polymerase and other mechanisms, sometimes they slip up and read an incorrect nucleotide. Sometimes the mistake isn't caught and as a result a different protein is expressed. This leads to mutations and when the mutation is favorable the organism usually survives and passes on the mutation. Eventually the mutation is expressed in a population. This is evolution" He looked at me for a second, and then walked away like I was speaking spanish Hahaha I was like 17 and this sorry man was like 34. Shout out to my people in pursuit of knowledge. What if everyone spoke science?

    July 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Steve

      Scientists have yet to even scratch the surface of what God has created.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  2. Franko

    How much more obvious does it have to be? God is a creation of ignorant peoplles' imagination.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • jents71

      I agree with ya about the imagination... If we pretended God did exist, do these religious nuts think god would
      intervene in the everyday happenings of life? I thought that even the nutbags thought man had free will, so man
      can freely take lives and make life... If god is there, hes probably just enjoying the show..

      July 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  3. GAW

    After every major tragedy this question is asked over and over again ad nauseum in the media and in the churches. And of of course there are a dozen different answers.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  4. dofrenzy

    I'm pretty sure God was busy helping the next Grammy winner and some Olympic gold medalists.

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

    The question posed assumes facts not in evidence. No god has ever been shown to exist and the hopes of any god's followers is just that-hope. There's a reason it's called 'faith' ; it's because it's not 'fact'.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  6. A homeless guy with a Bible

    Non believers are grumpy

    July 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Matt Dante

      And believers are delusional and without a shred of credibility.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  7. Where is the love?

    God does not want evil things to happen. So where was God in all this? God was with the friend who plugged the young woman's neck when it was shot. God was with the boyfriends who shielded their loved ones and gave up their lives. God was there when several people were able to escape. God continues to be there to help heal those injured, and to provide repose to those who have lost their loved ones. God is there for those who have lost their lives. God was there when the rifle jammed up, which resulted in many more lives being saved. God was with those who responded to the emergency.

    People will always wonder where God is when bad things happen. A lot will wonder why He let it happen. The thing is, He didn't let it happen, He didn't want for this to come to be. This was done by a human, a human who had a sick mind. What the shooter did was absolutely horrific and senseless, but this was from the polluting of his mind. God allows us, His most loved creations, to err and to do wrong. Because He loves us so much he gives us a choice and allows us to live by our choices- be it to follow Him, ignore Him, not believe Him, and all the other slew of decisions we have all throughout our lives. If God did not give us free will, then some would say what kind of love is that? But with free will comes all the good and the bad. Do you think God enjoys it when people don't love him even after all he's done? Even after He sent His only son, Jesus? After all the miracles that people ask for, only to ask for more? This is very difficult to grasp and come to terms with, and one can spend hours discussing this, but He truly is here with all of us. One day, when we are all in heaven then there will be no more suffering, no more hate, anger, or vitriol.

    People often think that people who believe in God are highly irrational, uneducated, etc. Personally, I disagree with this. I mean just think about the complexity of the molecules in something as simple as a chair. Think about the intricate processes in your body. Think about how everything came to be so that all around you is the way it is. Each interaction, each process, each object, each life... how can people not see the beauty and design in these? God designed and created all these. A lot of the greatest minds in our time believed in God, and a lot continue to believe. There are so many things to discuss, but this is a discussion for another time.

    I have prayed and will continue to pray for those in Aurora. For the lives lost, for those injured, for the family, and yes, difficult as it may be, even for the soul of the shooter. Nothing can justify his actions and they were absolutely horrible, but one has to wonder could this have been prevented? Even before the problem arose, with something as simple as having a close friend.

    If you are open, God will meet you where you are at. He's all around us, before us, with us, after us- it really is mind boggling. He's here. Just believe. Continue to believe, continue to pray. I hope and pray for the best for the Aurora victims and to all those who are suffering in any way. God bless.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • megahuge

      Why is God only present when good things happen?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • GAW

      As Dirty Harry one said "Your mouthwash ain't makin' it."

      July 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Franko

      Why didn't he jam the gun after the first shot? Where was he when the 6 year old girl was killed? That is the most stupid logic I have ever heard!

      July 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Arcadia Steve

      Very well said... God is not the "cosmic bell-hop" standing by at our beck and call. While you have stated one Christian perspective (viz-a-vis sending His Son), other faith traditions have always embraced the concept of free will and choice. In my own tradition (Baha'i), we believe that the PURPOSE of life – here and now – is to develop virtues (compassion, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, assertiveness, justice, trustworthiness, etc).which are our "spiritual arms and legs" in the next life (where we will be in a better position to help those in this life).

      I was profoundly touched by how the Amish in the Midwest a few years ago responded to a similar incident (deranged young man that kidnapped and killed several school girls). One of the first ACTIONS taken by the Amish was to approach the family of the shooter – to comfort them and support them through their agonizing ordeal when everyone else was "blaming them". To me this demonstrates a profound sense of community – there really is "no outsiders" in the big picture.

      Obviously, the killer in this case was woefully short in the virtues department -one could say evil is handing the reins over to one's lower/animal nature rather than growing and asserting the human/angelic nature. How many missed opportunities for spiritual growth (failed friendships, clueless associates and family members, uneducated or "hands-off" parents, lack of counseling, neighbors who kept their distance, emphasis on intellect versus empathy) could have helped this young man avoid such a sense of despair. Has anyone else noticed that most of these rampages are by white, middle-class, fairly intelligent young men (or the Korean stressed-out college student who killed many people at college a few years ago). Could it be that mental illness comes from being sheltered from character-building experiences like racism, poverty, responsibilities to a whole bunch of family members or a community?

      Just some thoughts that these events might be symptomatic of a society which has its priorities a bit too skewed towards individualism and materialism....

      July 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Keith

      Did you bother to stop and think BEFORE you wrote this pile of bilge? obviously not. If god was there to plug the hole in the neck of a young woman then why didn't god use its vast unimaginable powers to divert the bullet from entering her kneck in the first place?
      You praise this sky fairy for saving people after the fact when it could just as easily prevented the tradegy happening to start with. Don't tell me the sky fairy can't be everywhere, in Genesis it says that the sky fairy created the heavens and the Earth a task of unimaginable dimensions. Yet you say it can't be everywhere to protect its CHILDREN, yes we are supposedly its CHILDREN. I am just a mere human but I would lay down my life to protect my children and grandchildren. Lets see your sky fairy do the same, if that happened I would be the first to say, "OK now cure cancer and all the other hideous diseasesyou have created". Your sky fairy did create ALL the worlds diseases, man does not have that kind of power. So please ask the sky fairy why it did it, I am dying to know the answer.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  8. Peace2All

    @GAW

    ..."If 'gun' rights are taken away"

    LOL 😀

    Peace...

    July 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  9. LooseCannon

    Where was God? He was watching this wondering how much more of this we will take before we turn back to him. Billy Graham said it best “if God doesn’t judge America, then he owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology”. Not all of God’s judgment is fire and brimstone. Sometimes he just leaves us to our own devices and lets evil have its way with us.
    Until we, as a nation and as individuals, turn back to God he owes us nothing.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • JWT

      And we owe god nothing, where he/she/it exists or not.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  10. Steve

    There is a BIG two-letter word here that everybody seems to be missing. Let's see if anybody can figure out which one it is?

    "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

    2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV

    July 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  11. Unknown

    Where were the logical atheists? How come they didn't prevent this? They claim leaving religion makes you more logical,but where were atheists at? How come they let this happen? They ask Christians why "their god" did nothing but neither did they.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Steve

      Cheers!

      July 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • megahuge

      Busy understanding nobody has any control over what happens to people, good or bad. Might as well stop praying now for all the good you now know it does.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Christians are constantly telling others how to think and act... Atheists tell others to act independently and think for themselves... All you need to know is that atheists commit crimes at a far lower rate than 'believers'..

      July 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Forrest Gump of the internet drools yet again.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Unknown

      Lol HUMANS do it there genius.Doesn't matter what faith.Humans are flawed.

      Take some of that logic.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • What?

      You're comparing apples to oranges.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Unknown

      How so? I demand to know where were the loving and accepting atheists at.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • What?

      How so? You're comparing mortal humans to your God. That's rather blasphemous don't you think?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  12. megahuge

    If it's a miracle, it's God's gracious will.

    If it's a tragedy, God had nothing to do with it.

    Convenient, isn't it?

    July 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  13. Dave

    His words are better than mine.

    God where are you?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2y04PV05UI&list=PL98EC8B73CDBC76C5&index=2&feature=plpp_video

    If God is all-powerful, why does evil exist?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jRMWKz4hbw&feature=relmfu

    July 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • doc

      So moral freedom requires the possibility of randomly directed, senseless suffering, oft times foisted on thousands of undeserving innocent "others" in unspeakably horrible ways, resulting in death and untold grief, just so the "wonderfullness" of moral freedom can continue to exist?

      Sorry, not buying any of that today

      July 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  14. nordicg3k

    If you're looking for a place where there is no suffering, no hate, no injustice and no pain, that place is called heaven. Like it or not, we live in an imperfect world (sinful world if you prefer) and there will always be some degree of tragedy. This in no way means that God has forsaken the human race, that He is in someway punishing someone, or that there is no God. No where in scripture does God promise us paradise on this side of heaven. In fact, there are numerous places in the bible where we are told that there will be suffering and that we will be persecuted.

    However, this is not to say that we shouldn't work to make things better. If you look at the Ten Commandments, most of God's laws deal with how we should treat each other. Add to this that Jesus tells us to love one another as he loved us. Whether you believe in God or not, I think just about everyone would agree that the would be a better place if we all worked together to follow such teachings. Do I expect everyone to suddenly change their evil ways and start singing "kumbaya?" No, but I will continue to do what I can to improve the world. What will you do?

    July 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • CJ

      Look at the ten commandments? Are you kidding? Most of the commandments are about fear and praising not about how we should treat each other. The only ones concerned with human endeavor were admonishments not to kill and not to steal. Not a word about slavery except elsewhere in the old testament where it tells you how much you can beat a slave. Yet they had time to write down thought crime – blaspheming and coveting. It is a cruel and ignorant book which is entirely expected when you understand it was written by bronze age humans.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • nordicg3k

      Cruel and ignorant? Obviously you haven't read it.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      The 10 commandments were stolen from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. God(s) had nothing to do with it.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  15. haha

    I was at the mall with my friends when I was in like 11th grade and a religious dude came up and was trying to convince me that god existed. His major argument was that evolution is bs. His main argument for that was him repeatedly asking me how come a video camera can't evolve over time, which is really f ing uneducated. But anyway I humored him and said "Cameras can not evolve because they do not contain DNA. When DNA is being replicated in an organism through the use of DNA polymerase and other mechanisms, sometimes they slip up and read an incorrect nucleotide. Sometimes the mistake isn't caught and as a result a different protein is expressed. This leads to mutations and when the mutation is favorable the organism usually survives and passes on the mutation. Eventually the mutation is expressed in a population. This is evolution" He looked at me for a second, and then walked away like I was speaking spanish. Hahaha I was like 17 and this sorry man was like 34. Shout out to my people in pursuit of knowledge. What if everyone spoke science

    July 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  16. Dave

    God is always here. This event is further proof of the total depravity of man and our desperate need of Christ.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Except that people who worship Christ do even more disgusting things like raping children, starting wars for religious reasons, and trying to take basic freedoms from others... To paraphrase Ronald Reagan... "Religion is not the solution. Religion is the problem."

      July 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • CJ

      And apparently christ was powerless to stop the slaughter of innocent teens. Despite his promise in scripture that anything asked in his name he will do. You might as well pray to magic unicorns for all the good it will do you.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • oldwhiteman

      yeah right...benevolent god is always here...with a plan...well his plan sux. jesus brought us great moments like the inquisition, the witch burnings in Massachusetts, and a lot of great moments. this was an act of insanity of human on human...not Satan...not a god's will...just a lack of value of human life in an insane man.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Keith

      You poor fool, doesn't it say in your bible that if you believe then god will protect you, he will send his angels to minister unto you and every child has a guardian angel.
      I am NOT blaming your god for the actions of a deranged human being, but your god is guilty of dereliction of duty in that it did NOTHING to prevent the massacre or to PROTECT the innocent people.
      This happens every time a tradegy occurs apologists like you rush to defend god and say it is not his fault, BUT if someone is saved then you fall on your bellies and scream about how god saved them.
      YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS EITHER GOD IS IMPOTENT OR COULDN'T CARE LESS OR IT IS TOTALLY REPONSIBLE FOR DOING NOTHING.
      As for this being part of gods plan, what kind of monster is this god of yours when it actually planned to have this maniac murder innocent humans. What is wrong with you when you actually defend these in-actions of your monstrous god.
      Remember that on Sundays your sing about your GOD OF LOVE, the father of us all who each one of us, yes the god who PLANNED the Colorado massacre. I am a father and a grandfather and I would gladly sacrifice my own life to protect my family, WHY DOESN'T YOUR GOD DO THE SAME.
      You make me sick.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  17. icurheinie

    All catastrophes, whether man made or not come from Nature, not God. God helps us get through the tragedies that Nature brings us. It makes me vomit every time I hear "Why did God let this happen?' Because God had nothing to do with it other than creating Nature in the first place. This is mistaught by just about every religion in the world which is why so many people are confused.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Keith

      YOU make me vomit, according to your bible NATURE IS god, your god made EVERYTHING, therefore anything wrought by nature is wrought by your god.
      In any case I am no blaming your god for this maniac, I am indicting your god for crimes against humanity for not PROTECTING THE INNOCENT. I hear it day in day out, our god is a god of love, god is all powerful and all knowing, believe in god and it will protect you.
      All a pack of lies of course, what kind of sky fairy are you praying to? one that capriciously decides on the fate of totally innocent people for its own amusement. Oh sometimes it decides to save someone and then the suckers and the fawning masses prostrate themselves on the ground in praise. But what about those who aren't saved were they not worthy, did some 6 month old child commit a sin, if I where you I would ask your sky fairy some very tough questions and DEMAND an answer, oh I forgot you can't ask the Sky Fairy those sort of questions can you, how convenient.
      You poor demented fool.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  18. doc

    If you would like to answer questions like these with more authority, there is now an iphone app for instant ordinations: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/17/ordination-on-the-go-theres-an-app-for-that/. Be the expert your mother always knew you could be.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  19. Tryndamere

    Wake up people. You are manipulated by people who make Gods their living. If we live in a world without believing in Gods than there would be no wars or at least less dying. For thousand of years, billions people are dying because of their belief. Wake up. THERE IS NO GOD. PERIOD.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Amazing Grace

      What if Bible is true?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Tryndamere

      What if? You are funny.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Tryndamere

      There 's a Muslim God and an Asian God. Do you think their God is better than yours or you think there is no other Gods but yours?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Amazing Grace

      You don't believe in Bible. But if Bible is true, then those non-believers will face the consequence of their choices. If you are comfortable with your choice, then it is fine with anyone else. Belief is a choice and is a private thing.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • JWT

      Gee AG another threatening shool yard bully god. Funny how many people believe in that BS.

      If such a god actually existsed it would be unworth of worship by anyone.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  20. GAW

    The one pastor posted “In short, God was in complete control, exercising His will,” He sure wouldn't dare say that about all the aborted babies or if gun rights are taken away or diminished or if Obama wins a second term. He just made God that author of evil as far as I'm concerned.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • highplainsparson

      Sure I would. God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. @PastorRileyF

      July 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @GAW

      ..."If 'gun' rights are taken away"

      LOL 😀

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Mike

      If there is a god, he/she/it is one sorry SOB. But give it time. Science is slowly prevailing and, in the next few genertions, it will be clear to all that there are no devine or super natural beings.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:48 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.