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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. Cautious Person

    jamming his rifle

    July 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • jim

      God is all powerful and watches over our every move, so God did this? If something happens good, it's a mirarcle, if it's bad it's lesson for us all?

      C'Mon people, stop thinking like God is the very next form of evolution for us, We're still one step above ants. Just look at us, we're lucky if we deserve another look from God, if there is one, for another 10,000 years. We invent a new religion everytime anyone gets lucky and successfully gets a wagon train over a Utah mountain in the snow. Or a Jim Jones personallity who can mesmerize people into killing themselves.
      We think it's slow evolution back when tribes had many Gods, but now, how many do we have.
      Others would say this is sad for the families, but these victims have surely died many times before in other lives and they are just moviing on to their next life..

      July 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  2. Gary

    If God had an annual review as to how he was running this world don't you think he would at least be given a warning? I mean he's God and has the power to fix it all? Free Will, collecting souls, I don't get it. Is he needy? Why the "test"? It all makes no sense to me. Finally we have the Bible as our guide and as proof God is there. I have read that book. If that's the best message that can be presented I am going to suggest God get a new PR guy...

    July 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Gary

      PS as to the Free Will excuse everyone loves to throw around. When God put the Tree in the Garden he knew Adam and Eve were going to bite the Apple (all knowing right?) so he wanted this for us. He could have never intended for us to live in Paradise on Earth. If I am not forgiven for my lack of understanding of Gods message than how is it I am to forgive my trespassers? It seems to me God is a do as I say not as I do God.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Kevin

      Most Christians have never read their bible, it's true. A lot of atheists have read the bible, and will tell you that they're atheists at least in part because they did so. So I think more people should read the bible, so they can see just what atrocious stuff is in it.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Amazing Grace

      Most Christians have never read Bible? You must be joking. They believe something they have never read?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • PC314

      God sure has it good....Gets credit for doing all that's good and none of the blame for failing to prevent anything that. is bad. Either god takes an active role in what happens on earth....or he doesn't. Get your mythology straight, people.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  3. B

    I'm glad the author specified "Christian". One reason why Christians (and non-Christians who have since become atheists or other faiths but were raised in Christian homes) can't answer this question is because they are consumed with the pagan roots of their faith: a belief in a God that can be manipulated with guilt trips for not having done something people ought to be doing, themselves. In Judaism, we don't have this problem. Where was God? It's obvious: God was present in the hearts of those who shielded loved ones and strangers alike with their own bodies; God was in the courage of the police who apprehended the killer; God was in the hands of the first responders and medical professionals who saved lives that would have otherwise been lost. God is everywhere if you know where to look.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • TEL

      Well said. Also in this world is Satin, who introduced evil to the world. We have a choice, do we choose to trust in God and try our best to live like He directs, or do we side with the world and become uncaring and self-centered.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  4. PC314

    I thought God was all powerful? ...and all knowing. Thus he should have the power to provent something he knew was going to happen. ...So why didn't he? Free will you say....but if he truly is all knowing already knows what choice we are going to make. ...and he still didn't prevent it.

    So either God is a really crappy dad......or he's non-existant. My vote is on the latter.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • B

      you don't believe in God because God doesn't follow YOUR rules? How silly and childish..

      July 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • pattymc

      how silly and childish to think that a god would have the personality traits of an extremely immature human

      July 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • TEL

      The shooter has a Dad and he may very well be a fine dad, but he couldn't stop what happened. God wants us to choose, are we going to help or shield others from harm or are we going to stand idle and do nothing, or are we going to do real damage like the shooter? It is our choice. Can't force anyone to have a relationship with you, it is no good that way. Well God wants us to choose him also. I saw something written regarding the Noah story, fictional writing but food for thought. God decided never to destroy the world again because we are capable of destroying ourselves. It is us to us what we do in this world of ours.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • PC314

      "extremely immature and childish" to prevent mass murder? Now there speaks a true christian...

      July 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  5. S. Kagen

    God does not intervene, for if he did, he would have to do so for everything. Man has free will, and unfortunately others have and will suffer because of it. My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and their families.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Chad

      S. Kagen... Your comment below completely contradicts the point you are trying to make. You begin by saying that god does not intervene, but end with the premise of prayer. If you pray you are saying that you anticipate god intervening to make that pray happen. However, if he does not intervene and gives man free will then prayer can't work. I think you need to understand what devine intervention and free will mean.

      "God does not intervene, for if he did, he would have to do so for everything. Man has free will, and unfortunately others have and will suffer because of it. My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and their families."

      July 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  6. Lara

    When Eve disobeyed God, there was sin and evil in the world.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • PC314

      Yes, keep that in mind all ye women when you see a talking snake.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • The_Pope_is_just_another_man

      Well... leave it up to a woman...lol

      July 24, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • The_Pope_is_just_another_man

      @PC13–That's freaking hilarious.Kudos.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • amycuso

      Yes! And when the pigs built their houses of sticks and straw, the big bad wolf huffed, and puffed, and blew their houses in!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • TEL

      Amen, our choice not His.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • PC314

      exactly, it's a fairytale....

      July 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  7. montymoose2

    Why is there sin?
    There is nothing wrong with God.. There is a problem with ALL mankind. SIN,,,
    Its Gods will that all be saved from there sin,, But most mankind refuses the free gift.
    GOD GAVE MANKIND THE 10 COMMANDMENTS NOT SHOW HIM HOW TO LIVE..BUT TO SHOW US WE CANT LIVE UP TO IT PERFECTLY SO WE SIN...
    GOD has said the soul that sins shall die, not just physically but will be eternally separated from HIM and HIS love,and this is the eternal torment, to live forever with no hope, only no love in what ever pain that b apart from God.
    You dont jsut eveaporate into nothingness. You will be tormented forever BY YOUR OWN CHOICE!.
    IS THERE A PERSON WHO od of the Bible, that does not mean He does not exist...

    THE GOOD NEWS IS,, ALL CAN BE SAVED IF THEY HAVE FAITH IN THE FREE GIFT IN CHRIST JESUS AT THE CROSS AND THE GLORIOUS EXPECTANT HOPE OF RESSURECTION

    July 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • pattymc

      theres no way the logical part of your brain believes this. if you grow up you can appreciate the limited time you have

      July 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  8. Kevin

    God didn't intervene just like Joe Paterno didn't intervene. We've started jailing Catholic clergymen for not intervening. Not intervening is negligent, criminal behavior. A non-intervening god is unneeding of humans' worship. Move on.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  9. Jim

    Batman and other modern Hollywood trash is immoral and sick. These trashy movies are just another way satan tests our society. What would God be doing in that movie theater? Thank about it.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Jim

      " These trashy movies are just another way satan tests our society. What would God be doing in that movie theater? Thank(sic) about it. "

      Hmmm, I don't know... helping people defeat Satan ?

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Mike

      What would God be doing in the movie theater? Um . . . Watching the movie?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • amycuso

      Wait, I thought God was everywhere?!?! Don't tell me I was told incorrectly all these years!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • PC314

      @amycuso -- God is more of a spider man kinda guy....He thinks the batman franchise has been over done.....

      July 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  10. jose san antonio

    So, the God of all knowing, the planner of our lives planned these events to happened? just like the dead civilians in Syria? victims in Mexico? daily bombings in Iraq? dead civilians in Afghanistan? etc.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  11. Original G(OD)

    You're basing 100% of your belief in a single book. Howcan you logically say that you trust any of that????? They didn't even know that the earth was round!!!!!

    July 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Buster

      The Bible isn't a single book.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • TEL

      The non believers didn't knot the earth was round either way back then.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • PC314

      The bible is a collection of various texts put together by mankind. Human beings decided which texts coincided with their particular version of the mythology of the day and then called it a holy book.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  12. Nilkinggary

    These things happen. They are problematic only when we become too immersed in CNN and similar media that seemingly go to great lengths to ensure that the felt suffering is as widespread as possible.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  13. ArthurP

    Lets see:

    1 God has a plan and therefor it was his wish that they were killed, or
    2 God has a plan and a mere mortal has the power to screw with it, or
    3 God does not have a plan and just lets the hips fall where they may, or
    4 there is no God.

    OK people which is it?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • TEL

      5. God had a plan to put people there who made a difference and saved people, sometimes at the cost of their own life.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • ArthurP

      TEL:
      So the answer is his plan was to have people killed and wounded so he could be seen as the hero by having people show up to tend the wounded.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  14. Yahweh...LOL!!!

    The christian god Yahweh was too busy banging fellow Cannanite pantheon member Ashera and feuding with the other war gods such as Baal and El to care about some shooting in Colorado. Really...do christians not even know the history and origins of their supposed "god?" He started out as a bit player with the Cannanite gods. His origin is no different than Zeus, Thor, Odin, or Ra. Seriously people. Let go of these fantasies and join the rest of us in the real world. I outgrew Santa. Hopefully one day you guys will outgrow your "gods."

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

      To be fair, while the Christian God's origin is in Yahweh, it cannot be reduced to that. Zoroastrianism and Platonic thought also played a very important role in the conceptual development of Christianity's god.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • TEL

      sorry, He is older than that.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  15. The_Pope_is_just_another_man

    This can actually be taken to the extent of "Where was our "help" during the holocaust.?"

    July 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  16. pattymc

    animals with weapons will kill each other occasionally.

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

      I wonder what their God is?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • azhermit

      What a moronic anti-intellectual assertion... keep sipping the atheist and nihilist kool aid. The heart of man is evil... look in the mirror you fools.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  17. Unknown

    Where were the loving and caring atheists at? They claim logic and reason makes you a better person so why do atheists hide when bad things happen and demand to know a god they don't believe in(or so they say) let it happen.

    I demand to know atheists,who claim to want a better future for mankind,allows it to happen?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, ghouls, goblins or guns

      Who's hiding and what do you expect atheists to do? It's not like we are claiming supernatural powers that would have let us intervent like a benevolent god might have...

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

      See point proven.You do nothing but want God to clean up the mess.You complain do nothing but accuse a god you don't believe in(or so you say) of doing nothing.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Unknown

      "Where were the loving and caring atheists at?"

      "why do atheists hide when bad things happen"

      "I demand to know atheists,who claim to want a better future for mankind,allows it to happen?"

      W-T-F ????? 😯

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Ron

      I demand to know the name of your elementary school grammar teacher. They should be fired.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • noevidence

      Huh?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • James

      @Ron

      I demand to know his drug dealer's name, they should be given a bonus.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Anon

      Duke is that you?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Sardukar

      Here I am...there is no god..this is random act of crazy...7 billion people you must have some wackos..and zombies.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @James

      LOL 😀

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, ghouls, goblins or guns

      Unknown Asshole, I merely asked a couple of questions, which you have not answered. *I* don't want any god to do anything 'cause I don't believe there are any. If there was, I would pray that "it" created brighter people that you.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Reason vs. Faith

      Logic and reason doesn't make you a better person, just as faith doesn't make you a better person either. When bad things happen, atheists are saddened just as the faithful are. Here is the difference, a true atheist will NEVER ask were God was when it happened or why God let it happen. Atheists don't believe in God and as such, it is a non issue. Atheists see such an event as a tragedy caused by a mad man. God had no power here.

      Those who are faithful to a religion/God will ask these questions. Some will find solace in the answers provided such as, "It is the will of God," or some will become angry and question their faith.

      Don't for one second think that an atheist cannot have compassion. They simply look for answers elsewhere rather than look to heavens for reasons or answers.

      As for who allows something like this to happen – simple, the man who committed the crime. There doesn't have to be a greater power at work here – unless it is in the means of a coping mechanism.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • amycuso

      Oh, TRUST that we're not blaming God. We're simply saying, "I told you so!"

      July 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  18. Sharon

    There are no gods.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Unknown

      Need proof.Scientific proof.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      "Need proof.Scientific proof."

      You need a brain... A functioning brain... It's impossible to prove that ANYTHING doesn't exist... And the burden of proof is on the 'believers', not the atheists... You're the ones claiming that god exists, so let's see some proof from you... Good luck.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Unknown

      He/she made a claim.Doesn't matter if its "non-believing",YOU believe it but cannot prove it.

      Atheism is pathetic and weak.Nothing supports it.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • noevidence

      A=T – love it.

      Unknown – look up Russel's teapot. You are proving the point against yourself.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, ghouls, goblins or guns

      Here we go again...

      Unknown, listen up – pay attention this time. The extraordinary claim is that some god(s) exists. Those who make this claim have the burden of proof. Those asking for proof of the claim have no obligation to provide proof 'cause you can't prove a negative. The absence of proof indicates the claim is wrong. Claims for the existence of gods have been made for 1,000s of years and there is not a shred of evidence. Most likely, gods do not exist. Got it?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      And let's clarify that we want to see SCIENTIFIC, VERIFIABLE proof. And no, you cannot pick anything from your particular book of worship (Bible, Koran, Book of Morman, Dianetics, etc.)

      July 24, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • noevidence

      Yep, nothing supports atheism. Unlike all those museums we have full of forensic evidence that proves the existence of god. He is 6' 3", roughly 180 lbs, and generally eats vegetarian. The deist view is clearly supported by lots of evidence, and the atheist view is weak. That totally makes sense.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      "He/she made a claim.Doesn't matter if its "non-believing",YOU believe it but cannot prove it."

      So, you have no proof if your belief, but you're still asking for others' proof... LOL. Thanks for proving my point... Isn't it about time for you to grow up???

      July 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Sardukar

      Yes prove here it is:
      cant see god,
      cant touch god,
      cant smell god,
      cant taste god,
      cant even imagine god (you imagine bearded man with withe toga)

      July 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • PC314

      Unknown - you can't prove negative. I just find it really hard to believe that I am a sinner because a woman created from a man's rib, was tricked by a talking snake into eating an apple. And why did God have to kill Jesus (I'm sorry, ....himself) to remove the sin? Why not just fogive? Also, if he was all knowing, he must have known that Eve would eat the apple, ... and he still told her not to eat it....still knowing she would.... Oh, don't give me the 'free will' crap. If God is all knowing he knows what choices we will make, right? In sum, God knew Eve was going to eat it, thus he knew original sin was going to be committed. And if he was all knowing he knew he had to kill Jesus (again, sorry.....himself).

      Or.....it's a myth......yup, that's it.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • TEL

      Proof? I live as close to what the bible asks of me and I have several instances that I know I have had answered prayer.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  19. Kobol

    The free will theodicy simply doesn't add up. We routinely deny other humans the ability to cause us harm by repressing their free will through the use of force. There is no reason an all-powerful God can't do the same. Show me one parent who would not use violence to defend their innocent children simply because they respected the aggressor's "free will." God is all-loving but not all-powerful. The two are mutually exclusive in this world.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  20. Glazed Look

    WHERE WAS GOD? well, since he (or she , like Santa Claus ) does not exist, god was no where to be seen, or heard, during the shooting. Unfortunately, these victims are dead, and thats it, dead. A very 'sick' person killed them.... thats it; dead, dead, dead...... no afterlife, no heaven, no hell, etc. .... just gone. This was a horrible crime, but people, please, don't 'beat up' this situation

    July 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Unknown

      Need real proof,not an opinion.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      You DO realize that God itself is little more than an opinion, right???

      July 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Unknown, what you need is an education. Badly.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • amycuso

      Exactly. It's sad, but it's reality. I understand that people don't like to face reality. It's not a pretty sight.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:50 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.