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. A Man

    God allows certain things to happen for a reason. God allowed 9/11 to happen so the country would rally together (remember the patriotism after 9/11). Our country was the best it had ever been, but since people have forgotten our unity.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      So god killed thousands of people so we could have two weeks of patriotism?? I guess that makes sense to someone who believes in talking snakes.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • A Man

      No, God didn't. He allowed it to happen. By the way I do not talk to snakes, only a few churches do that.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Ting

      If that were true then your god would be a complete psychopath.


      July 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      "No, God didn't. He allowed it to happen."

      Oh... So he ALLOWED thousands of people to die so we could have two weeks of patriotism?? Makes a LOT more sense... No talking snakes?? What about pregnant virgins? Men walking on water? Creationism?? Same idiocy.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • A Man

      Allowing it to happen is different than making it happen.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • A Man

      Atheist = Thinker

      Atheists believe in life without faith, but it takes more faith to believe that a string of random events could create the complex human body.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Ting

      'Allowing it to happen is different than making it happen.'

      what if your wife was attacked and ra ped. A police officer saw it happen but did nothing because he thought it would teach her a lesson about being out alone at night in a bad part of town. Would you be okay with that? Probably not. Replace police officer with God and you no longer have a problem. Your God is not a loving god. Why go along with the delusion?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  2. TM

    “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.”
    Therefore, everything is predetermine under the consequence of random events. This, in most logical circles this might lead some to believe that everything, whether good or bad, is possible. Can anyone see how a weak mind may attempt to justifies its usefulness, or uselessness, in this world. This is a scary scenario for "humanity."

    July 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  3. Anti-mutationist

    The Godless evolutionist has more faith than one who believes in a Creator. He is not smart enough to realize it.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • A Man

      Right on!!!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Science and facts do not equate to 'faith'... Your beliefs have no bearing on reality...

      July 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Evolution is proven fact. If you don't realize that, you're simply uneducated on what evolution is and how it operates.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Anti-mutationist

      Atheist = Thinker?

      Think about this. How did the eye evolve?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      LOL. The eye's evolution is fairly simple. And why in the world would god make such a thing, anyway? You do realize that human eyes have all sorts of flaws, right? The blood vessels could just as easily be on the back of the "film" instead of the front. The wiring is all screwy, and we have to hallucinate to cover two big blind spots.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • A Man

      Evolution is a scientific theory, not a scientific law. (a scientific law is a theory that is proven)

      July 24, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Anti-mutationist


      You didn't answer the question. Let's start simple. What was the beginning of eye evolution?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • A Man

      Moby Schtick

      So you would rather not see?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  4. Zach Moore

    God gave man free will.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      So that any man with a gun could take away free will from anyone he chooses to shoot? What a stupid god.

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

      The classic Free Will answer is about is stupid as it gets. About as brainless as the "god" who would allow such a senseless thing. If you subscribe to that , then you subscribe to a god who is fond of killing and murder. Most Christians are down with that because they see nothing wrong with a god who would allow killing (crucifixions) to "save" souls. I'm not down with it. I save my money by not going to church. So I am "saved." Or at least saving. LOL

      July 24, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  5. Dustin

    Welcome to CNN, where we make you use one of three commenting systems.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  6. Frank Ricard

    The Man in the Sky was busy making sure some baseball player's prayer to hit a home run was granted and he missed the whole Colorado thing. And he also missed the pickup truck crash in Texas which killed over 10 people as he was listening to the prayers of Penn State alumni hoping that all their players won't transfer. That is His will. That is His way. I would even dare to say that God works in mysterious ways. So mysterious that any rational human being would realize that He is as real as Santa Claus.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Brad

      Amen to that! Great post.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  7. GAW

    It seems odd that most Evangelicals claim that you can have e personal relationship with God/Jesus but if you say that God spoke with you last night they would think you were crazy. I thought that reciprocal communication was a part of having a personal relationship with someone. If this is that case cant God provide us with a direct answer rather than having Christians
    resorting to proof texting or averting the issue?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • K Kim

      Try praying to God and ask Him yourself instead of listening to the people and their conflicting viewpoints. He just may reveal Himself to you but may not answer why Aurora incident happened. What is important to you is to know that God exists, not for Him to answer every question you may have about Him or the world. Once you realize that God is real and alive, then you will seek to know Him more and ultimately come to salvation through His Son.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  8. Jennifer

    Evil was explained to me this way: darkness is the absense of light, and evil is simply the absense of good. Just like there are different degrees of darkness, there are different degrees of evil. This idiot chose to act on his evil and plunged into darkness – doesn't mean he doesn't have goodness in him. And he will be judged by man and then by God, hopefully in a very short time of each other.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  9. Veritas

    CNN Belief Blog is run by an ATHEIST. I thought THEY didn't believe in God

    But here we go again. Only the feeble minded, who have no sense of personal responsibility or self-control, blame God for man's free will.
    IT'S A COP OUT. Grow a spine and answer for your own actions; and stop acting lIke 3 year olds who say "He made me do it!

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

    What bothers me is the use of a Roman torture device to mark the graves of innocent people.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Lee-Anne

      That is because Jesus the Christ was executed on it. It is a symbol of the suffering HE went through for us and our chance at everlasting life. You may not believe in it, and that is fine, but your statement is simplistic. I think it is an awesome reminder to me so I don't forget what Jesus did.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  11. TheGreenMan

    Could the Aurora events support ther notion that the geo-orbital deity or God, is as fictional as the Batman?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  12. GAW

    It seems odd that most Evangelicals claim that you can have e personal relationship with God/Jesus but if you say that God spoke with you last night they would think you were crazy. I thought that reciprocal communication was a part of having a personal relationship with someone. If this is that case cant God provide us with a direct answer rather than having Christians
    resorting to proof texting or averting the issue.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  13. Racelander

    We tend to Forget that there is a God and a devil. God created the Angel that rebelled and was thrown out of Heaven, who roams the earth trying to instigate as much evil as possible. Humanity (men & women alike) who turn from God's offer of a transformed life will do what is natural to their sinful nature. Some go way farther than others in their sinful acts.
    Salvation is free to all who believe God's way......Don't turn Him away!! 🙂

    July 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      So god is all powerful and all knowing, but he lets me have free reign over you puny humans, lets me do whatever I want to them, and you still think you have free will? Is it that hard to figure out that if god exists and "allows" this to happen you hjave no free will?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  14. Patrish

    People that believe in religion will always find an 'excuse' for God. Non-religious people will have another view. God either controls everything or he controls nothing – you can't have it both ways. When all else fails, we have the 'we don't understand God's plan'. People seem to need to 'believe' in some supreme that has all the answers. I personally don't care if God exits or not nor do I care about some 'future someplace'.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  15. b4bigbang

    Anyone who says science has proven there's no free will is feeding you a load of baloney.
    Read the entire article on wikipedia and you'll see:


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

    Someone once asked a great wise sage: "How can you believe in G-d after the Holocaust"? and he replied "A G-d I can believe is not a G-d worth believing in" we do not understand g-d's ways, we will not understand why he "allows" certain things to happen, but we must continue to do our part to perfect this world and the people around us, and to perpetuate the positive deeds of the deceased by adding in the light of goodness and kindness and not to allow the darkness to overcome.
    So where is G-d you ask? He was there when it happened, and he is still there weeping with us, and he will forever be there together with us and all the souls of the deceased, we all have our mission in this world – whether you believe in g-d or not – he believes in you, lets not waste another moment and continue to spread the word. Good will prevail! g-d bless America!

    July 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  17. James

    Man is God. Our forefathers got it wrong. Each of us has the power to create and destroy, do good or do evil and be just or unjust. Imagine what 7 billion gods could accomplish if they knew they were indeed Gods and they were not so busy trying to figure out who God is.

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

      Very well said. That's something I can say amen to.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  18. lynnmarie97

    We live in a broken world. God is real, perfect and in control. People have free will to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the way to God or to reject it. Every human has a Christ shaped hole in his or her heart that only Christ can fill. Answer this, why when diagnosed with a terminal illness or while lying on one's deathbed do so many ask for prayer to God or summon the chaplain. These are unbelievers that I am talking about. Spend some quality time in the hospital ICU or trauma unit and you will see people (unbelivers) suddenly be filled with the need to cry out to Jesus. God allows free will period. I choose Christ, perhaps many of you will when I care for you on your deathbed or during the loss of a loved one. Yes, I am a Registered Nurse in an urban hospital.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  19. Jerry

    Asking where God was is on par with asking where a Jedi Knight, Harry Potter, or Spider-Man was during the shooting.

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

      Well said!

      July 25, 2012 at 7:05 am |
  20. jeff stieve

    Where he/she always is; in the minds of all the believers..

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

      And not doing much for us in the real world.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:12 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.