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. Not a simpleton

    "God" does not exist. Never has.
    Read David G. McAfee's book "Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings".

    July 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  2. Heather Marie

    It was God's will in that He knew it would happen. It is also in God's will that humans have free will. Even though James Holmes chose to do something with his free will that I would not have, that doesn't mean God was just absent. I think it many ways we saw God in Aurora. For example the gun jamming, the apartment not blowing up, and the miracle that happened to one victim named Petra. http://bstrait.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/a-miracle-inside-the-the-aurora-shooting-one-victims-story/.. This story is no hoax as I personally know Petra.

    When bad things happen I remember that the rain always has to fall before we see the rainbow. God will use tough situations for blessings if we give Him the chance.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Heather Marie

      You Said: " I think it many ways we saw God in Aurora. For example the *gun jamming* "

      Really ? Please don't go there with your argument.


      July 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • noevidence

      Ahahahahah! God jammed the rifle! What a pathetic god this is, to have shown up two minutes too late, so all he can do is jam the rifle.. And then he was like "whew! Oh crap, that apartment!" And then flew over to the apartment and stopped it from exploding. Wow. God does all the good things then, is that it? Constantly in a struggle with a fallen angel who is out putting murderous thoughts into otherwise empty human beings, and god has to come save the day..

      Have you ever tried to just live life without having to attach everything to this children's world view? Amazing and dreadful things happen with or without a god, and you don't need to capitalize pronouns in order to have a happy and meaningful life. Please wake up from this trance.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • ryanjd73

      So the gun jamming had nothing to do with an aftermarket 100 round magazine being used in a gun that wasn't designed to carry a 100 round mag?

      The apartment blowing up had nothing to do with the idiot telling the cops straight up that his apartment was booby trapped? I don't know, seems to me like they didn't kick open the door to the apartment causing it to blow up because he told them it was booby trapped...

      Yeah, that Petra story is nice and all, and I'm glad she's going to recover, but it was God's miracle? So he/she chose to give her a miracle but the other victims weren't worthy enough of an equivalent miracle? Could it be that every once in a while people get lucky by chance (if getting shot in the head could be considered lucky)? The fact that something isn't likely to happen doesn't make it a miracle from God...

      I'm fine with giving credit to God for 'miracles'...but if God is going to get credit for good things then he/she has to take the blame for the bad ones also.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  3. Original G(OD)

    One day, science will advance to the point where the existence of God will either be proven or disproven. Until then, just keep the religiousness and killing limited to the Middle East, it's mostly just a barren desert anyway. Personally, I just don't understand how anybody could see any modern religion as real given that the bible was written by humans in a dead language and translated and edited(by humans) however many times over the last two thousand years. I guess that's why all of the religious zealots have no problem cutting funding for education.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Brandon Brown

      The apostle Paul has won my trust. So has John. Sorry.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Original G(OD)

      I know a cople of guys named paul and john that you've never met either.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Brandon Brown

      Have you ever actually read the book of Romans?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Original G(OD)

      And don't apologize to me, you're the one believing in people that may never have existed in the first place.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • junior

      so you beliievie that God condones killing in the Middle East?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Brandon Brown

      I don't have the same standards of proof that you do. I also don't assumme that something isn't true just because it makes me uncomfortable. The reason people do not trust the book of Romans and the other writings of Paul is because if they did, it spells out pretty drastic consequences.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Original G(OD)

      Sorry, I never learned to read Aramaic and King James screwed everything up when he re wrote the bible to put the Monarchy ahead of the church.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Brandon Brown

      I don't use the King James version. I use the ESV. And I trust the translators of that book.

      It's all in who you trust. Like I said. I do not think Paul is a lunatic. I don't think he's a jerk which means I don't think he's a liar. He's a solid person. He knew the Torah better than the back of his own hand, and then Christ appeared to him on the Damascus road. All that makes him very trustworthy. Just read the book of Romans, I dare you.

      Have a nice day.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • noevidence

      Yep, I'm with you Brandon. I just believe everything is true whether it makes me uncomfortable or not. I also blindly trust all of the translators and monks over the past 1500 years that I have never met. I trust that none of them has ever had a self indulgent thought, and that power and money have never corrupted anyone in history, least of all a christian.

      Secret tip: Paul and John had it all wrong. It was George and Ringo that revealed the true secrets of god's plan. They were all flatmates, you see.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  4. Hairy Trueman

    I don't know.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  5. Maureen

    God put a piece of her/him in us when we were created. That piece is called Knowledge. It speaks to us when we are in danger. We have just gotten less capable of hearing the guidance and heeding the advice. I'd be curious how many people felt a small amount of reluctance or gut feeling about going to that show. God gave us free will and Knowledge. We have choice here. Don't blame God when we haven't learned to listen.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  6. aaron

    If this guy had half a brain he wouldn't need to ask this question. Looks like CNN will hire anyone.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Yet, he makes an argument and you didn't... Hmmmm.

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

      He asks a question but it still remains a question until you come to know God.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Veritas

      CNN is run by an ATHEIST. What do you expect ? Intellect, reason, balance..................don't hold your breath!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  7. Todd

    We have spent how many years taking God out of everything, courts, schools, our lives, etc; and now when something like this happens, people are asking how God could let that happen?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Not a simpleton

      You have it backwards Todd, this is a secular nation and the battle has always been to keep religion from invading these places where it does Not belong. It has Not been a battle to take "god" out, it's been a battle to keep it out. Big difference!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  8. Maria

    God did not make the shootings happen. He does not control individuals. He gave each one of us freewill, freedom to choose what we want to say, do or think. Evil comes from an individual's choice. Everyone has a choice whether to be good or bad. He is in charge but He did not make us like robots.

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

      Your right. Also did not the Bible speak of the evil one called Lucifer? People do not know haft the evil he is and gets into humans if they give there will up to it.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  9. Atheist = Thinker

    "Good people will always do good things and bad people will always do bad things... But in order for good people to do bad things, you need religion."

    Steven Weinberg

    July 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Brandon Brown

      We don't even know if this guy was religious. How do you know he was?

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

      Why do you need to know if he was religious? Don't you trust him blindly? Or did this make you uncomfortable?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm |

    We told him to leave our country and he has.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Not a simpleton


      July 24, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  11. R Burns

    John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

    2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison

    July 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Not a simpleton

      Blah, blah, blah, blah

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

      Random bs:

      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.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  12. TimBryant

    You know what? Whether you believe in God, I'm going to go ahead and 'waste my precious life time' to pray to all of those who seemed filled with so much... well, stuff. But don't concern or comment about my actions, for when I pray to my God, it's on my own time. But, I'm gonna pray for those who don't believe, just to do it.

    Sorry in advance 🙂

    July 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Not a simpleton

      Why don't you try doing something tangible instead of just making Yourself feel good by talking to your imaginary friend?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  13. Scrappyike

    Religion editor....more like atheist editor. What a stupid question. If you are religious then you know that God does not make people do bad things. He does not make people do good things. What happens down is here done by people. We are here temporarily. Final destination is heaven or hell depending on which we earned.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Not a simpleton

      I'd be "damned" if I had to spend eternity with the likes of you people!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  14. sterling

    God was with there! but he was there for his(the one's called on him and depended on him,or believers in their hearts).The bible makes it clear psalms 91:1 "He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the almight."Actually, God was ahead of the game! when Mr.holmes was checking out of school for good on june 10,2012,God was speaking to A man of God in Nigeria concerning this,telling the Americans to pray! so if you are wondering where God was he was speaking but you didnt hear.Read ephesians you will see,we fight against darkness not eachother but darkness.Our troubles does not come from God but the enemy( again read job).God is protecting those who choose to believe! Many things happen that are unexplainable but thats why we pray always for his protection and when we are attacked,we are not destroyed! hallelujah! my ireport "God is still saying something"prophecy of the shooting in nigeria, watch it http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-818537

    July 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  15. arsington

    Clearly God was in Africa, very busy giving AIDS to babies, and was too preoccupied to intervene in a piffling shooting.

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

      How can anyone think there is a god? I don't want to worship anyone or anything that allows pain and sorrow!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  16. little flap

    Like Bette Midler sings it - "God is watching us, God is watching us, God is watching us, from a distance,..........."

    July 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  17. Brandon Brown


    July 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  18. KB

    How often do we learn invaluable lessons from pain and suffering as opposed to life's "blissful moments?" Islam has taught me this.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  19. God / Allah / Yahweh / Great Pumpkin / Lord Bubba

    God who?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Why are you blaspheming Lord Bubba?!?!?!?!?!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  20. Edward

    God was busy giving me lymphoma.

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

      You reap what you sow.....look in the mirror

      July 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Are you seriously claiming that the reason people get sick is because they don't believe in god, Scrappy? You're lower than a dog turd.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:19 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.