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. AnhTuan

    If you are still alive and have conscious mind to ask the question, then you owe him a worship because He are still giving the rest of humanity the opportunity to repent and believe his Son, Jesus Christ.

    " Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION""

    July 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Tryndamere

      You talk like a retard. IF and IF.

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

      and That is what's wrong with you people. Believing blindly. Our God is better than their God ?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  2. Roland

    Which God? My God? The Muslim God? Yahweh?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Kathy

      tee hee

      July 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  3. Atheist = Thinker

    If god is anything like his Christian followers, he missed the rampage in Aurora because he was busy making sure people weren't enjoying themselves in the bedroom....

    July 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  4. Jim J

    If God doesn't exist, how did He create man in his own image? Checkmate, atheists!

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

      Not an atheist, but really dude, you need a better argument....

      July 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Congratulation on the most infantile 'argument' of the day...

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

      Really! And why do chimpanzees and great apes look so much like us? Freaky.

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

      @Jim J

      You Said: " If God doesn't exist, how did He create man in his own image? Checkmate, atheists!" 😯

      You 'are' kidding, right ?


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

      What makes you think God created man in his own image? Lemme guess – the bible tells you so. OK, who wrote the book? Nobody knows. What we have here is a serious credibility problem.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Eric

      This statement makes no sense from any angle!

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

      this is probably one of the dumbest things i have ever seen. i would reference evolution but you are clearly too idiotic to comprehend any scientific alternative.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  5. Me

    Wake up people – – there is NO GOD – He is an invention of the simple minded people who are afraid to accept the reality of death....

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

      My belief in God has nothing to do with death or fear, actually. Dishonest people use death and fear to gain dishonest converts.

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

      Best Answer!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  6. Dove

    I understand the desire to understand or even rationalize this tragedy by refering to a divine plan, or blaming it on human sin and the fall of man. However I do not believe that religious explanations that deal with an unseen divine being is sufficient or even appropriate when it comes to truly grasping these tragedies. However I respect the attempt to understand by invoking a divine being and a divine will. However what the world needs to see is not how knowledgeable we are when it comes to these deep theological questions, but how powerful the human spirit(or will!) is when overcoming senseless acts of violence. The world also needs to see our willingness to reach out to others regardless of what they believe, and not us arguing over metaphysical questions that we simply will not know in this life. I don't care about a divine being or a divine will, and when it comes to God I simply do not know. However I know this, that with all of our power and strength combined, we can overcome even in the face of tragedy. We can worry about whether this was God's will or not(I could care less), what I care about is not so much the cause, but our response to these tragedies. I hope that we will appeal to the power of the human will for a world changing response in the face of tough times, and not waste our time in searching for a "divine" answer that we will never know in this life.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  7. inHISlight

    God was and still is on his throne. This tragedy is not God's will. Violence and many other things is/are a result of the evil that is prevalant on the earth. We as humans get to choose who/what we serve. We can choose God through the shed blood of of his son Jesus. This is His desire. He is the way the truth & the light. OR nothing or other things ,other gods the list goes on and on. He gives us choice and free will. To blame god is a lie frequently believed because it appeases the selfish nature of humans.

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


      You Said: "God was and still is on his throne."

      Pretty much says it all, doesn't it ?


      July 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  8. oldGuyRoundTheBlock

    if God exists, then She is a female. but no one can prove God. let's talk about something we can really believe in. how about education and healthcare and loving our fellow humans and not blaming anyone but you and me for our failures in our communities?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  9. Fishman

    I know where God was, and hope you know that Satan was there. He is The destroyer, not God. All evil originates with the fallen angel.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  10. lifeencounter

    Isn't God always where the entire universe dwells?– that place, in you and me, of common spiritual divinity, of love, of truth, of light and of peace? God was in the sacrifice that some souls made for those around; God was in the kindness that soon ruled the air to appease the tragedy; God was in love and empathy that promptly flew from all around the world to Aurora in multiple ways; and God continues to remain in the condolences and well wishes being extended to the bereaved. And God also continues to remain in our wishes (expressed as anger, frustrations and confusions) for a future of peace and harmony.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  11. kathleenrobinson425

    So god protected some people and didn't protect others. People say god was with me. Where was he when those other people needed him. Get over it: he either doesn't CARE, or he can't do Miracles, or he's not THERE! Pick one.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  12. If we couldn't make a choice to follow/not to follow, how could he truly show his love to us?

    So you're saying that unless a father allows his son to play in the street (or not play in the street) how can the son know his dad loves him?

    So you're saying that unless a mother allows her daughter to stick forks into electrical outlets (or not) then she not only ISN'T showing her daughter love – she "can't truly show her love to us".

    You're making two illogical statements:

    1. Free will has NOTHING to do with love or vice versa. They are not dependent on each other as shown (clearly) by my examples.

    2. By definition God is omnipotent (can do anything). You agree to that by stating you believe in him (since I do not, I'm not going to capitalize the "h"). Then you go on to say that he could not TRULY show his love to us unless he gave us a choice to burn in hell for all eternity. But I thought he was all powerful. CERTAINLY it is in his power to both show love AND to protect us from evil happenings like this. Our minds can conceive of a deity that does that – so an all powerful deity COULD do that. But you say he cannot. That means he's not all powerful then. But if he's NOT all powerful, then he cannot be a god.

    ILLOGIC – it's the only thing that religious morons can fall back on – because that's what religion is: A LACK OF LOGIC.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  13. Erik B.

    "Where was God?" – Exactly the point that theists refuse to address rationally. Kind of like the pathetic logic from the wife of the heroic person who took control of hijacked aircraft during the 9/11 attack. He was put on that aircraft by God to abort the crash into the White House. That's a pathetic impotent 'god' in my book. Who continues to do half measures. Its ridiculous. – here's a 'personal' message to god – You need to 'try' harder!

    July 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • If he was ALL POWERFUL - why would he need to "TRY"

      He should just "DO".

      Unless he's lost his mojo...

      July 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  14. dlg

    I am sure God was weeping over their deaths as God probably weeps daily over the 3,700 abortions per day. Like the old commercial where the Native American Indian has a tear falling down his face as he looks over what has been done to his land, I am sure the tears are streaming down Gods face.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Gee - then all he must do is cry, huh?

      So THAT is why Seattle has such a rainy season!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • dlg

      God lives in Seattle? I think I'll move. I would love to be in Gods tears

      July 24, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  15. Hasan

    God was too busy watching people on their toilets

    July 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  16. Brandon Brown

    The reason evil exists, the reason suffering and terror exists, is so that Jesus Christ would be terrorized and suffer.

    And I'm very happy it is that way. God and Jesus in his MERCY is beautiful.

    July 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  17. BRod

    Humans chose independence from God. Now the earth and all of its inhabitants are a dark, twisted mess, and yet people want to be mad at God and blame God. For what? For giving you and everyone else the independence from Him that you wanted? For the consequences that come with that freedom? That's rich.

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

      I love how Christian reasoning turns it back around and lays it at humanity's feet for being so broken and messed up. Actually I don't, it's sickening.

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

      I love how your reasoning blames it on a God you don't believe in....

      July 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • BRod

      And newsflash JD: People ARE broken and messed up! The question is "why?". We clearly have different answers to that question.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  18. godisfake

    God is man made imaginary the devil is fake not real. its all made up.

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

      all are fake...you are fake, i am fake, everything is fake. nothing is real. everything is but a figment of our imagination. there is neither good or evil. it is just is. even nothing is fake, and fake is fake.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  19. Anti-mutationist

    A better question to ask would be:

    Why don't we live in heaven right now?

    My answer would be: Look at the anti-God comments on this page. That's why.

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

      Yep, you're doing your part by believing in a fairy tale, and we are all screwing it up for everyone. We would all be "living in heaven" right now if it weren't for all us pesky people who don't just blindly believe ridiculous stories their parents told them from thousands of years ago. Here, explain this to me, since you're the expert. (Obviously I am some devil's spawn sent to test your faith, so treat this as your final exam.)

      10 “‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, you are to offer a male without defect. 11 You are to slaughter it at the north side of the altar before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. 12 You are to cut it into pieces, and the priest shall arrange them, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. 13 You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to bring all of them and burn them on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.

      What exactly is that drivel? Do you want me to believe that the omnipotent creator of the universe wrote that to me? To show me how to live my life properly and have some fantastical eternal life as a reward, but to punish my being eternally if I were to use my brian and say "that's drivel"? Think carefully about this world view you hold, and then explain it to me without basing every statement from that ridiculous assortment of iron age babble. Show me how, rationally, my making comments against a god has stopped "us" from "living in heaven". Please do.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  20. lkft



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

      Awesome! Thanks.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:08 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.