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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. Ned

    Forget about absinthe god. Where was bat man is what I want to know.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  2. Sarah Hammett

    The thing a lot of passer-by's don't understand about religion is that Heaven is supposedly this grand, "better" place. So, in that case, wouldn't you want to die as soon as possible so you could leave the suffering and anguish of Earth behind? The only people suffering now are those left behind and the wounded, and I pray God's healing is with them. God was there, and all those that died are with Him, now. Also, there were small miracles, like the automatic weapon jamming. Yes, this is horrible. And I'm not trying to make light of the situation. But, if this is truly what you believe, if you truly believe in a better life after death, then you have to believe that those that died are safely there, now.

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

      In unity we can have a taste of Heaven on earth

      July 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So if we all just ignore reason and science and behave as you do, all will be perfect, junior? For whom? Certainly not for gays.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Bonnie

      Your theory is in direct opposition to what God says. If one has a true relationship with God, one lives. Here's God's direct word on this: "BECAUSE on me he has set his affection, I shall also provide him with escape. I shall protect him BECAUSE he has come to know my name (character). He will call upon me, and I shall answer him. I shall be with him in distress. I shall rescue him and glorify him. With length of days I shall satisfy him, and I shall cause him to see salvation by me." Psalm 91, verses 14-16.

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

      Hey Tommie Tom, glad you stopped posting other your numerous dummy handles.

      This truth of Jesus' is for you and all the nonbelievers as you use science as an excuse to reject Him.

      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.

      Amen.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You sh!t-for-brains ass, I never posted under any other "handles", as you so stupidly call them.

      You're a friggin' loon.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      One thing is certain; that is the real Tommy

      July 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  3. richard

    It's the old argument that bedevils the devout- why is there Evil in the world? Either God allows the existence of evil and so is not All-Good or, God is not All-powerful as to not allow evil to be present. He cannot be both Absolutely good and Absolutely powerful...

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

      God is meek, not weak

      July 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      There is evil on this earth because satan deceives the entire world. Some overcome and focus on Jesus' truth, others refuse to and continue to follow satan's lies. God is long suffering meaning, He doesn't want any of His children to perish.

      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.

      Amen.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • richard

      15, 16... sounds like something the devil would do. how is that free will when there is a predetermined right and wrong not based on situational nuance, but on abstract judgment? not to mention the "deceiver", satan, was God's creation. Was the snake in the garden a creation of God? How could God create this evil so early on??? to specifically deceive man? huh? sorry. i'm all about revelatory truths but this is a bit hard to swallow, and please spare me another quote.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  4. Will

    God isn't real.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  5. rodthewiseloner

    Assuming for a minute that despite atheist claims, there is a God. He creates mankind and grants it freedom of choice. What reason is there for him to intervene in these issues? Are we looking someone to blame? We all are accountable. From the weapons manufacturers to a culture that glorifies violence, and our silent support to a political and economical system that profits from bloodshed. How about the family and social values that have been slowly but certainly eroded? There were thousands of american soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with countless innocent civilians. No real mourning, no half flying flags, no real media and social concern. Kill some at the movies and the entire country freezes over it. I remember the joker words.. "You know what, you know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that like a gang banger, will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all, part of the plan. But when I say that one, little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds! "- If there is a God looking upon us, why would he care about the path we have chosen? Is God responsible for our tolerant policies to the possesion of weapons?

    July 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  6. Atheist = Thinker

    Morality is doing what's right no matter what you're told...
    Religion is doing what you're told, no matter what's right...

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

      Agree 100%

      July 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • junior

      Religion is som much more than morality.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  7. Steve

    I am a Christian and anyone who teaches that "It is God's will" when a disaster strikes is frankly misinformed and preaches a dogma that hurts rather than helps the religion. Yes, I believe God knows everything, but he also gave us "free will" and because of that singular gift, everything can change on a prayer and in the blink of an eye. Think of it as a highway with many exits, and yes, God knows the entire map, but you can take any exit of your choice. Thus, your fate and future(and the fate and future of others) is in your own hands. Don't blame God because he isn't a dictator who controls every aspect of our lives. Rather blame those who saw problems and failed to act because they didn't want to get involved, it was too costly to do or they were simply too busy with their own lives and amibions and problems to see the problems or potential to help someone else.

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

      I agree with you Steve. God gave us free will and he doesn't take that gift lightly. I also agree with your highway analogy. God sees the map, but we have the free will to chose what road to take. I believe he can help guide us in the right direction if we pray to him, but ultimately, each decision in our lives (which can in turn affect the lives of others) is in our own hands. Historically, humans rebel against authority–even if it is for our own good–and I think God understands that all too well.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  8. Eric

    Mankind's ancestors chose to know good AND evil when they ate the fruit of that knowledge. God allows us to know what evil is now because of that choice. God is waiting till there are enough people who have learned that to know evil is not such a desirable thing. Why even go watch a film where you can learn more evil (like batman). All of this is just getting more and more deep into the knowledge of evil, which is something I think we all agree enough is enough... or do we really? It seems people will still want to go watch more movies and be entertained by more evil.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  9. CommonSense

    It's simple.

    1. If there is a god, the horrific act was either A – according to plan, or B – ignored and left to the creation to play out. Either way, it is in no way a divine being a rational society should be believing in. Then again, these types of atrocities have been going on for hundreds of years and the madness of faith has remained.

    2. There is no god and this is simply the act of some very delusional person who from at first glance of what is known, a severe chemical imbalance in his brain led to this.

    I tend to go with option 2...

    July 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  10. Puzzled in Peoria

    God gives human beings free will, including the choice to sin. Murder is sin, but so is lying, stealing, cheating, adultery, and theft. If God forcefully intervened every time a human being was going to sin, there would soon be no human beings left on this planet. People who don't believe in God blame him for episodes like this. People who believe in God and understand his plan know that he intervened by sending his Son to forgive sin, otherwise we would all be marked for hell, including you, because every person on earth is a sinner. God is more grieved over these murders than we are, but he has made his plan clear in the Bible. All you have to do is read it.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • QS

      Read what you wrote here and see if you can find the mistake:

      "People who don't believe in God blame him for episodes like this."

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

      Many claim to not believe in a god but in fact they do believe there is a God, just are angry at Him more than anything else, how else can you explain the emotionally driven comments?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Many like YOU, junior, irritate the balls off people with your simplistic pronouncements, by stating your beliefs as if they were facts, and by your dishonesty in answering questions.

      How can something you don't believe exists anger you? What angers is smug, sanctimonious, judgmental, hateful believers who use their 'belief' as an excuse for discriminating and excluding people they dislike or disapprove of.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  11. dowdotica

    GOD? hu, wha? THere is no cloth of any religion i could ever wear for God is all around and yet not so. our life path? Equals our choices and a lot of luck or no luck! but mostly the ability to excercise "free will". To truly rise to the level then "we all" need to simply choose to evolve. ignorance breeds stupidity, murder, mayhem and incivility and looking at the direction a certain faction of our country seems to be leaning? I'd say if we don't get rid of the media blow holes blowing then more and more of the sheeple will continue to be brainwashed and the ones who thrive on the vitriol? they will become even more dangerous. sad indeed. oh and take away all the anti depressents will ya?!

    July 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  12. Bill Watson

    God has been kicked our of just about everything. So why ask where was God when he was never invited. Those that did invite him are displaying His attributes in the way they are handling the situation. Of course they are not the ones asking where was God.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Bill Watson

      You Said: "Those that did invite him are displaying His attributes in the way they are handling the situation. Of course they are not the ones asking where was God."

      So... only 'believers' are ones that "display his attributes" ? Assuming you mean courage, compassion, etc...

      Not reality.

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • DN3

      Hmmm, wonder where my post went? Anyways, basically I choose to be humble and acknowledge that my mind and experiences have limitations and that I don't know and understand it all. Things are the way they are for a reason and I choose to accept that. And by the way, how can you not accept it? We have no choice - there is nothing anyone can do to reverse a terrible event except to try to prevent it in the future. There is absolutely no point in being angry at God or disowning God because doing so won't help any. If believing in no God helps you deal with the crap in the world, then so be it.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • DN3

      Oops, replied to wrong thread =\

      July 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  13. One one

    Wouldn't it be nice if there really was a god who took a personal interest in ME ?
    Wouldn't it be nice if there really was a god who would protect me when life gets scary?
    Wouldn't it be nice if there really was a god who validated my values and beliefs to be 100% correct ?
    Wouldn't it be nice if there really was a god who gave me easy answers to life's complicated questions?
    Wouldn't it be nice if there really was a god who would let me live forever after I die ?
    Wouldn't it be nice if I could look down at all those people who disagreed with me and watch them burn in hell ?

    Wow ! I think I'll start believing in god !

    July 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  14. DN3

    God can't do anything once someone decides to commit evil. There's the free will clause. Unfortunately, actions have consequences.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @DN3

      So... God has limits ?

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • DN3

      No, He doesn't have limitations but He does have rules of conduct. You can't give someone free will and then take it away whenever convenient. Then there would be no point in living because we'd all be perfect.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Not a simpleton

      If "God" is "all-knowing", the "Alpah & the Omega, etc; etc; etc; then there is no such thing as "Free Will". If there is "Free Will" then that means your "God" is Not all-knowing, ie. Ominpotent/Ominscient.

      July 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • DN3

      Not a simpleton: how does free will negate omnipotence?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • One one

      @dn3. Isn't that the way it is in heaven? If god can have perfection in heaven, why not hear on earth?

      Your argument fails.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @DN3

      You actually did say "he-god- 'can't' " which presupposes impossibility. And in your statement it infers that God can and does intervene 'before' evil or some such.

      So... God actually 'can't' do certain things then.

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • DN3

      Because there would be no point in having Earth if Heaven is going to be perfect. Essentially, in 'Heaven' there is no 'original sin' (ie. weakness) so things are 'perfect'. Nope, we're here on Earth to learn. Everyone has a different lesson(s) to learn during their lives. The universe will keep hitting you with the same challenges until you pass.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @DN3

      Interesting *beliefs*

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  15. Why_Bother

    Where he always is, Idle doing nothing. He hasn't even proved he exists, so how can he be somewhere?

    July 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  16. The Rhino

    It was not God's will for these people to be shot. God loves all His people and would never wish this for anyone. However, you ask a question that there is only one answer for: It is when the people turn away from God when this type of violence occurs. You want God out of our schools you want God out of our government you want God out of everyone's lives and then you ask where was God. You pushed Him away and pushed Him away and now you want to know where He was. I think you get the picture! Turn your hearts back to God and than you can ask: where was God, otherwise it's not a questions worth asking!

    July 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • One one

      Yep, god thinks, "they don't worship me enough do I'll let them suffer to teach them a lesson."

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

      Very truthfully stated. Here's God's direct word on this: "BECAUSE on me he has set his affection, I shall also provide him with escape. I shall protect him BECAUSE he has come to know my name (character). He will call upon me, and I shall answer him. I shall be with him in distress. I shall rescue him and glorify him. With length of days I shall satisfy him, and I shall cause him to see salvation by me." Psalm 91, verses 14-16.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • The Rhino

      Thanks for backing it up with scripture Bonnie!

      July 24, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • The Rhino

      Don't blame God One One! It is evil coupled with free will that causes such awful results. If society would turn back to God and His ways, evil will not exist as it does today. Choose God and the world will be a better place.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  17. highplainsparson

    I am the first Tweeter cited in the article: @PastorRileyF. Click on highplainsparson to see my more detailed response on my blog: "God Was On the Throne Doing His Will in Aurora'

    July 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, ghouls, goblins or guns

      If any god did exist, it really crapped out on his throne in Aurora! And PS, your website is a load of shit!

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

      People believe in the caretaker God and that creates difficutlty when answering "where was God". First God, creation or whatever you call it was here before religion was even a thought. With that said, God, creation or whatever you call it, is much more than the traits religion applies. The purity of it all, the beauty of it all ,without the parameters of a text book, well now you have the answer. This had nothing to do with God, creation or whatever you call it. Just call it with an open mind, not one locked into a rule book that for some reason has alternative versions written and all are a product after God, creation or whatever you call it.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  18. Kate

    God was busy protecting all those people in the theater. For how much that man shot, only 14 people died. I know that 14 lives are 14 too many, but God was there protecting.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Kate

      So... God couldn't protect everyone ?

      Peace...

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

      So your god could protect only a set number of people? He just could not manage to cover 14 more people?

      I honestly hope you can take a step back, read your comment with absolutely no bias, and really reflect on what you are saying and what you believe.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Not a simpleton

      @Kate, that is a truly sickening rationalization to make just to reinforce your delusional beliefs. You should be deeply ashamed of it.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:04 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 5:56 pm |
  19. He was in line at the Marriage Licensing Bureau making sure gay men can't get married

    His Holy work is NEVER done.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  20. Truman Jones

    God doesn't will these things to happen. He wills that everyman come to him to find "the path of life", where "fullness of joy" is found and "pleasures forevermore." (Ps. 16:11) He allows men to make their own choice. If we couldn't make a choice to follow or not to follow, how could he truly show his love to us? God's will, is plan in the bible. That all "repent and believe in the gospel" so that we would not be "conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." This is God's will. That you realize and believe that Jesus took the fullness of God's just wrath on that cross. And in your belief that He is Lord and Savior of you life you can be free from the world, flesh, and satan. Read Ephesians 2:1-10, if you do not believe me!

    July 24, 2012 at 7:51 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.