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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. The_Pope_is_just_another_man

    No one person can say there is an intelligence to the universe.Yet no one can say there is not.You will or will not know until you die and find out first hand.Don't blame this intelligence for the stupidity of one man and a Batman movie.These movies depict violence which breeds more violence.Man needs to get his own act together.Don't blame a devil either.It's our inborn primitive nature fueled by stupid violent movies like Batman ,The Dark Avenger. Welcome to Earth humans.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      There is no intelligence to the universe. Oops. I guess one guy just proved you wrong. You will "know" nothing when you die. Your brain chemistry stops.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Kebos

      I was dead for billions of years before I was born and it did not inconvenience me. To quote Mark Twain.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Kebos

      Actually, the pope is less than a man given his past actions. Deviant, deceitful, selfish, arrogant.........

      July 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • The_Pope_is_just_another_man

      Hey...even Christopher Hitchens says he likes surprises.He also says that the definition of an atheist is a person who says there is no evidence for the concept of a God or intelligence without convincing rebuttal.He states he cannot say there is no such intelligence.To say you are positive there is none makes you as bad as someone who is sure there is.Closed minded.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • The_Pope_is_just_another_man

      @Kebos-Yes, excellent quote by a great man.You are correct about all the Popes.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Kebos

      Christopher Hitchens. Truly a great man. More inspiring, more human , certainly more benevolent to mankind than the pope.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • The_Pope_is_just_another_man

      @Kubos.- Yes indeed sir. Its o.k. to open it up the mind a smidge.Won't hurt anybody to say you have no evidence for or against.Even Bill Maher will concede the "I do not know" concept.Its the people who warn you that you better believe or burn you must not let into your life.They are dangerous.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  2. john

    God does not owe us anything and does not need to intervene when tragic events happen. If God would intervene all the time for us to live happily ever after, what would be the point of this life? The goal is for everyone on this planet to have a happy life and there be no evil but not because God prevents people from doing evil to each other but because we decide to not do evil to each other. People need to learn to respect others and do good to others, and it is events like these, no matter how tragic they are, that make us grow, connect, be better to each other, and get closer as a group. I think the facts will show that that in this case humanity failed somewhere and down the road that will make us better. It is through suffering that we grow stronger and become wiser. I know it sound cruel but no pain, no gain. God allows adversity for us to grow stronger.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Exactly. What would be the point. The point is, YOU just made up, retroactively a meaning system, to suit YOUR needs, to comfort YOUR brain. Your brain works that way. Interesting.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Kebos

      I agree with some of what you said. Except for the god part. That is delusional. You're only fooling yourself when you think they're is really something out there that watches over us. Silly really when you get right down to it.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  3. Faith

    John 14:13-21 continues: And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (taken from Bible.com)

    It's not a religion, it's a relationship! There is absolutely God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit! To know God is to have Faith. It isn't something you can see, but something you can feel. And what you feel is the Holy Spirit within you. It is your option to take it or leave it, as God gave us all free will.

    In my opinion, God was deeply sadden by this horrific tragedy. God does not kill anyone, good or bad. That is what satan does. However, if you are an evil doer and do not accept Jesus Christ as your saviour, God will then let satan have at you and you lose God's protection. But I know in my heart, that Jesus himself was there during the shooting! He was with every single one of those who believe in Him and cried out to him.

    Why did God let innocent people die, including a child? God has plans for us all. He does things that we will never understand. We aren't supposed to. God does things His way and on His timing. We as humans will never be able to comprehend it. And while we are devastated here on earth, our loved ones in Christ are in Heaven waiting and hoping we have Jesus in our lives so we can join them with our Lord when our time has come.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, ghouls, goblins or guns

      Blah, blah, blah, blah...

      July 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  4. Nick

    "Where was God in Aurora massacre?" ... I think God can ask us too where were we when the Aurua massacre wasn't happening.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Faith

      AMEN!!!

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

      Should your God want you and your family to live a happy life? Is that what you been praying? God kills million people just to test you?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Nick

      Yes it is what I pray for – help with my job, have a happy life, be healthy, for friends and family, etc. Is it what's best for me? I don't know. God allowed Jesus Christ to be born poor in a stable, be ridiculed, tortured and killed. We learn from the Bible that before His crucifixion Jesus Christ prayed to God to save him from all this, adding "but do what you want, not what I want". Jesus Christ was crucified. Should we then conclude that there is proof in the Bible that God won't listen to your prayers since He did not listen to His own Son?

      We have countless accounts of lives of saints who lived in poverty, were tortured and martyred. St. Peter the Aleut believed in God yet had is toes, fingers and hands cut off and he was eventually disemboweled. St. Panteleimon believed in God and as a doctor healed others for free, yet, he was tortured and beheaded. St. Mary of Egypt believed in God and lived her life as a hermit in the desert. St. Procopius and so many more saints lived in poverty. Why did God not help them? Where are these Saints now? Why do we have these people as Saints and role models? Must we detest a "happy" life and live in poverty in order to be saved?

      My point in all this is that faith is completely illogical when you approach it from a worldly perspective. Some have the mindset that belief in God = utopia in life and this world, and if that doesn't exist then clearly God doesn't exist. There are answers to spiritual questions yet people don't seek them out and see what has been said and written about these topics already in the past centuries. Then, unfortunately, a few unsatisfactory answers from forums like these and its easy conclude there can't be a God.

      Sorry I didn’t answer your question directly but I don’t think I could adequately answer your question and discuss in this comment area.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  5. flar

    if god stepped in and stopped the bullets wed have no choice t to believe in him. would you love your partner if they put a gun to your head and forced you to? love is about freewill and choice. how can people even discuss god when they have no concept what it is.. seriously

    July 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Neuroscience has debunked free will.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  6. Tryndamere

    A few years ago, a few hundred thousand people died in the tsunami. Do you think God punished them or Do you think God took them to heaven? Can any1 answer this?

    July 24, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Tryndamere

      And believe me, some of these people worshipped your God too.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Kebos

      Neither. God doesn't exist. Very simple really. Only complicated by your imaginary mind.

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

      why are you asking cnn bloggers what god does? why dont you ask yourself..

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

      kebos. wow. so after humdreds of thousands of years or debate, here you are with the proof positive answer about gods existence.. wow, and right here on cnn blogs! no dead sea scrolls or philosophers, or ancient reasoning.. you had the answer all along.. just because.. ha ha

      July 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Tryndamere

      Flat..I asked you. Why did your God killed million people? Where was your God when people are dying?

      July 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Nick

      You want someone to tell you how God judged each and every person in the Tsunami? That's not my our job. Our job is to think about how God will judge ourselves and nobody else.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Kebos

      Yes, because in the absence of evidence one can only come to this conclusion. And it is an absence of evidence. Just because we have all those things you mentioned doesn't prove god exists. These were all made by man. And before we invented god, we had the Greek and roman gods. And before those, there were other gods. Man is wired to believe in such malarkey. Except when a person starts to really think for themself and can dispel of such nonsense.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  7. Atheist = Thinker

    'Believers' will tell you that you must have religion to be moral and ethical... The truth, of course, is that atheists have higher IQs, lower poverty rates, lower divorce rates, lower STD and teen-pregnancy rates, lower crime rates, lower illiteracy rates, and higher incomes than 'believers'... The truth has always been inconvenient to religious people...

    http://answers.yahoo . c o m /question/index?qid=20100410115522AAZH6v8

    July 24, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • flar

      wow.. do you have a long way to go.. talk about people who believe in everything they read.. ha ha

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

      It takes more faith to be an Athiest than to believe in God. You will truly find out when you pass away.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      "wow.. do you have a long way to go.. talk about people who believe in everything they read.. ha ha"

      Just because you don't like the facts doesn't make them any less true.. Your opinion has no effect on reality.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  8. F'ingHostile

    God is too busy helping Tim Tebow do....everything.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  9. Mike

    God's great gift to humans is free will. He has given us a knowledge of Him and how to love – which is our simple purpose on earth. Love is the only thing we are here for. It is our choice to love or not to. He absolutely hates all the bad we do and that are done to us through others. While He has the power to stop all bad things from happening, He does allow it as this is part of the free will he has given us.

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

      Free will is a right, not a gift. This was not something given to me that I need be grateful to anyone for.

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

      I think i'm going to puke if i see one more post that God gave us free will. you have no more control over the next thought you think than you have responsibility for being born.

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

      If we have total free-will, how is "god's plan" possible? How is he in charge of anything? Another reason to reject the idea of a personal god.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  10. Kalena

    "Where was God in the Aurora massacre? " Where was he in any disaster ? He doesn't control peoples thoughts or actions. It's time we as a society realize that each individual is accountable for their actions, not society of God

    July 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  11. Linda

    God was where He always is–in the minds of people who believe in Him. I have a right to not believe as much as others have a right to believe but what happened in Aurora had nothing to do with believing or not believing and as for the arrogant pastor who said God was in charge-what a jerk he is. I'll bet he's a control freak in his relationships and his congregation. How very arrgant to say with such certainty that God was exercising His will in Aurora–the guy's got no more of a handle on God's will than anyone else does.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  12. Sefa Roth

    God didnt cause the shooting in aurora...the government did. Its another way to distract us from whats really going on.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Good news for you!! ... It's only $3.99 for a tin foil hat at Wal-Mart this week...

      July 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  13. flar

    so weve collectively shunned God from our society, leveling him to a mere myth, or at best a genie to grant wishes. and now we ask were hes at? make up your mind

    July 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  14. David

    Why does man insist on blaming God for the problems in this world. It is Satan that is orchestrating these horrible things and it is man that allows Satan to use him. God does, however, use all things to His glory, so somehow, God will make something good come out of this. It could be someone who finds God through this, it could be someone getting closer to God through all this. Nobody knows what God will do, but I'm certain that this act was of Satan, not God.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I find it impossible to believe there are any such invisible beings controlling the universe. It's just absurd.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  15. Whiskey Preston

    Where was "god"?! Where was Batman? Superman? Rambo, Mother Goose and Jason Bourne? Oh yeah in the Land of Super Made-up Fantasy nonsense.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • flar

      isnt it embarrasing that your answer is irrelevant and at best worthless in the discussion? its like someone asking "why cant we learn to love" and you saying "cuz my boo boo is sore".. it doesnt make a lick of sense

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

      agreed. people need to stop looking for someone to blame for "not being there." especially someone that doesn't exist...

      July 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  16. Florida Woman

    Chad–You said, The most vocal critics of the bible have actually never read it..

    Actually, atheists have read more of the Bible than most Christians. The Pew Research showed that atheists and agnostics scored the highest in knowledge of the Bible, Christianity and religion in general.

    Reading the Bible has created more atheists than most any other source of argumentation.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • David

      I am not surprised by that statistic, but I could show you some things in the bible that would cause you to re-think your stance on the existence of God.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, ghouls, goblins or guns

      Then get on with – I don't think you can!!

      July 24, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • flar

      david. the bible isnt god. i hope you arent basing your life on your perceptions of what the bible says.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  17. strongbelief2

    Suffering in life is the result of human choices. Suffering is part of the human condition because of sin in the human heart. What can be accomplished by suffering? We should want to make suffering "redemptive" to bring us closer to God. In suffering, there is the chance to make choises- good choices in life.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • David

      Amen!

      July 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  18. rd43059

    God was with each victim, weeping as they were killed. God was with those who were courageously protecting their loved ones, giving them the strength to be heroes. God was with each person as they left the theater and with their families as they rejoiced in being reunited. God was trying to talk the shooter out of his actions, but was tuned out by him. God continues to be with the families of the victims, comforting them as they allow it. God gave us free will because God wants us to freely choose relationship with Him and that means people freely choose to do violence because they reject that relationship. God weeps with all of us because God's children were killed.

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

      Very well stated!

      July 24, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Brothers and sisters:
      We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
      that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
      We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
      perplexed, but not driven to despair;
      persecuted, but not abandoned;
      struck down, but not destroyed;
      always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus
      so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body
      For we who live are constantly being given up to death
      for the sake of Jesus,
      so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh

      July 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  19. Steve

    God created this world for us, and He gave authority over this world to us. Mankind them handed it over to Satan. Stop blaming God.

    And, I find it very "interesting" that the very people who drive God out of society are the first ones to scream, "where was God during this?"

    Unbelievable.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Amazing Grace

      Amen!

      July 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  20. erkmelda

    The Devil is running things on Earth. This is his work. People need to be aware we all go somewhere when we die. As a Christian I believe it is Paradise which is Heaven so God welcomes all his Children to paradise. Thats where all the victims are.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @erkmelda

      Operative word in your posting...*believe*

      Peace...

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

      I believe you have the mind of a 6 year old if you still believe in Satan.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
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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.