home
RSS
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. SAYITSTR8

    Why bring the idea of a god into this? It is an idea, that's all – some ideas please some people, some please others, but that's it. People do what they do whether or not there's a god. That's the 'free will' ticket out for believers. So, stop the nonesense discussion. If there is a god, free will is the get out of jail free card for believers. If there is not a god for some, then fine, no god. It comes to the same thing. when will you stop this stupid fake debate? do you have nothing else to use this space for?

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

      Extending that line I would point out that people can be good with or without God and I've seen both.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  2. Emmet

    Science will beat pseudo science every time. Religion is on its way out. Thankfully.

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

      Sounds like you have a lot of FAITH in that factless notion of yours.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      His faceless notions are just as good as yours, Lice,

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

      Oh Thomas of the bunched up pan ties...there you are. Actually....considering that religion has been around for tens of thousands of years and still the vast majority of the world belong to some for of religion. My notion that religion is not on the way out is more factual.

      It's ok....you are having a slow night. We'll let you catch up.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sweetie, you have no more facts to present than Emmet does. Too bad it bothers you to have that pointed out to you.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      When are you going to switch names, Lice?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son- "Sweetie, you have no more facts.."

      So..you deny that the majority of the people of the world are in a religion? Ok...if you want to show off your ignorance go ahead.

      Change names? Probably when you do hun.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  3. Tyler

    I long ago realized that there is no way to prove or disprove the correctness of Christianity or any other religion. I personally believe that it is all ridiculous delusion. However there are many ways to make this fit into the idea that God exists. You could say that God is in complete control and intended for the massacre to happen, by divine will, and that this evil is necessary for some divine reason. I get that, that makes sense. On the other side, you could argue that God simply created the universe at the beginning, and then left humans to decide their own fate. However, this also necessitates that God "meant" for the massacre to happen, as God's knowledge would inherently permeate both space AND time, as in God knows what will happen in the future because he is above time. Either way, It simply doesn't matter because at the end of the day, people have to come down to the question of whether they "believe" a God exists, not try to semantically disprove the correctness of a certain person's view.

    That being said, all organised religion is hogwash.

    Good day.

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

      Tyler, that's not strictly correct. The non-existence of specific gods, for example the Christian one, actually can be (and has been) proven. In the case of the Christian god, the contradictory claimed characteristics are sufficient to prove that it doesn't exist, and there are other reasons.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  4. georgex

    The faithful will be thankful for not being killed there while many were killed. Who survived has more to do with where the gunman pointed the weapon and fired. Praising God for surviving makes as little sense as blaming God for the ones that were killed. God didn't do anything there which is what He always does – nothing.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  5. MarkInPDX

    Face it... there is no god.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  6. angelicheart1960

    God was there as He is everywhere. God gave man free will. It was man that killed these people, not God. God could not intervene because of this free will. God only intervenes if we pray for intervention. We had no idea this man was going to go out on a shooting rampage therefore, we couldnt pray for the intervention. The killers gun jammed. I'm sure God jammed that gun because through all this I'm sure someone called out to God. God never promised us a rose garden here on earth. There will always be evil. Satan lures around through man. There was much pain that night in Aurora and my heart and prayers go out to all the victims and families but I believe it could have been alot worse, but because of someone's prayers to God to intervene those prayers were answered.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      What a stupid, weak god.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Bob from Pittsburgh

      Bla bla bla.. there is no god.... just actions, good and bad....

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

      God only intervenes if we pray for intervention.

      Good one.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • PC314

      I pray that if if there is a god he will not let me place this posting.............(c'mon christians, are you going to "report abuse" to get rid of it to 'prove' that god exists?)

      July 24, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Beloved4ever

      Psalms 50:15 ".....call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”. I will give Him the Glory if no one else does...Glory to Your Name Lord God !! Bless your Name sweet Jesus !,

      July 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  7. AverageJoe_Catholic

    Evil exists because of man's free will. God gives man free will so that man can be truly free to love God in return, and in order for that free will to actually be free, God cannot have any bearing or responsibility for how man chooses to use it. Thus, while many men choose to love God freely, other men choose not to, as is made possible by their free will. God does not will for evil to be done, but rather that all men freely choose to love him, not because they have to, but because they want to.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Ting

      Why love something so evil?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      So all male christians are gay. Got it.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • AverageJoe_Catholic

      I tried. I tried being logical and sincere. Evidently not possible. My apologies.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  8. Motty

    You don't have to believe the Bible if you don't want to. But it says that all creation has been purposely subjected to frustration, the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, and that God has given man over to follow his own ways. The point is to demonstrate what things are like when God is ignored. Why do innocent people suffer? There are no truly innocent people, and we are all in this together. The positive side is that one person's righteousness can be applied to many. Which is why this guy Jesus told people to turn away from their self-centered lives and become part of the kingdom where God is King. That's why tragedies happen and will continue to happen. You can't escape the possibility of being a victim. The only guarantee is having a future that goes beyond this life.
    Again, that's just what the Bible says about our present situation.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Doesn't it seem even a LITTLE odd to you that in all of written human history, God figured it made sense to put one dude on our planet for a little over 30 years, then erased all physical evidence of his existence, and then decided to kick back for the next two thousand years and do absolutely nothing??? What a pointless thing to believe.

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

      @ exlonghorn
      When you are ready to do what's needed, you'll find out that God has been very active for 2000 years. You'll also find all the evidence you can handle. The problem is, you want God to show himself to you your way. He's willing to show himself to you His way. Are you ready to see Him?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  9. etaise

    God is a good God and His nature is love ,peace,joy,longsuffering,gentleness,goodness,Faith ,Meekness and temperance(Galatians 5:22) .He created human beings and gave them a gift call free will. At the same time you have a fallen angel called lucifer the devil which job description is too steal ,kill and and destroy.Lucifer the devil is walking around seeking whom he would destroy.if you let Satan influence you the results in your life will always be theft,destruction and dead. So if you are looking for somebody to blame ,blame the Devil and the one that has yielded to the devil.God is a good God.Every good and Perfect gifts comes from Him( James I:17) in fact,God so loved the world that He send Jesus to pay for the sins of the human race.Because of His very nature he would not force Himself on mankind .He has given us free will.However,there is a Devil and His cohorts in the world seeking for opportunity to bring destruction.Please don't let the devil use you.Jesus has given you authority over devil.don't let the devil deceives you.Be blessed.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  10. Herby Sagues

    He was in the same place as Thor, Zeuz and Baal Zebud. In some people's imagination.

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

      That's the same place Socrates is.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Bob from Pittsburgh

      I am with you... before was god thunder and god volcano, today is just what you like to be.. another imaginary friend..

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

      Amos, Socrates was largely a philosopher, and not a scientist. What's your point?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • PC314

      Amos -- unlike zeus and Thor, Socrates actually existed. That's a pretty significant difference.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  11. Ann Marie

    We don't give God credit when things go well so why do we blame him when things don't? God didn't kill 12 people – a human did. If the world was perfect we would be in heaven and not on earth. The purpose of prayer is not to ask for a perfect life – but rather to ask for the strenght to endure what imperfect people do to each other.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Bad spelling (strenght) makes baby jesus cry. Happy now? You woke the baby.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Herby Sagues

      What???? People do that all the time! Where do you think the expression "thank God" comes from?
      Now even going by your argument, do you think God could have prevented this or not?
      If he couldn't, then what sort of god is He?
      If he could and he didn't, then what sort of god is He? Would you respect a man that could have stopped this man from killing so many innocents? Why do you respect a god that does?
      Yes, yes, you'll come with the "free will" argument. But God could have perfectly allowed this guy to carry out his will, and still made him miss is targets. Or caused non-life-threatening injuries. But he didn't. Your god allowed a bullet to go through the brain of a months-old baby.
      You know that's not possible. It doesn't make sense. But it hurts to think about that, since it goes against what has been embedded in your brain since you were born. So most people don't do it.
      Free yourself. Start thinking rationally and you'll realize the world is a much more coherent place than you think. No made-up deities needed.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  12. Jack

    When are you people going to stop asking this? If we are going to talk about religion and it's strict interpretation by bible then why are you skipping the section on free will? Free will means you can do anything you want as long as you are prepared for the consequences. If we are going to buy the story without question, then God didn't take his son off the cross.What would make anyone think god would skew free will for anyone else?

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

      They who ask this do not really want to know. They just want to blame. That's the cloth they are cut from. Satan: the accuser.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Herby Sagues

      Does free will also mean this person had to actually had good aim? And that the bullets had to damage vital organs in so many?
      Bullets don't have free will. This guy had and was able to shoot the bullets at people. That he hit so many means that God didn't care about their lives. Because he's just not there.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  13. jlc2012

    God's allowance of evil is nonsensical if one assumes or believes that man's life on earth is all that there is. It is also nonsensical if one assumes or believes that God cannot or will not recompense people for both injustices done against them in life AND injustices perpetrated BY them. For those who believe such, all answers which presuppose post-mortal justice are simply nonsense. So why answer?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Funny thing how society works. You start believing when you need him but when all is set and done you forget what he has done for you.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      I certainly haven't forgotten what he's done for me.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Herby Sagues

      He has done nothing for me.
      But even if he did, your argument would make sense if we were talking about an imperfect man. "forgive him when he does wrong, because he also does right" doesn't work for a supposedly perfect being.

      Do you know how the world would be if God didn't exist? Exactly as it is now. Evil people would do evil things. Just people would have miserable lives. Believers would be exactly as healthy and live exactly as much as non-believers. And praying for something wouldn't make a difference in the statistical chances of that occurring. Isn't that telling?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  15. Cameron

    God was there with the families of the suffering, he was with the man who protected his girlfriend with his life, he was with the woman who escaped with her infant, he was the quite voice who told the woman not to open the door to the murderers apt when it was open, he was with the police and bomb disposal unit, but most importantly he is with those that were saved that died that day. So before you go asking where was God, you best start asking where you are and where would you be if you were one of the victims that day!

    Free will is just that. Free will.............He gave that to us, as well as his love.

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

      So God gave the shooter free will then personally intervened to force all of those other people to commit good deeds?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • One but not the same

      God was also there in the mind and heart of the shooter, the controlling substances that make the ammo, the physical forces that governed the direction and force of the bullets to hit their targets.

      You see, God is omnipresent so you must understand who is behind everything and everyone.

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

      Dan, you don't get Cameron's point.

      There is a piece of God in all of us but we have free will. He wasn't saying God intervened but that he was there. If you can't critically think beyond that, that's your loss.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Bill, are you serious??? Critical thinking is not exactly high on the traits I would name to describe a theist. If theists valued critical thinking, they would welcome informed debate and would thank those who present evidence that contradicts their beliefs because doing so brings us greater knowledge and understanding.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Cameron

      Do you really believe that we deserve anything. If you had a tape of your life and thoughts broadcast to the world for every second of every minute of every day, for your life up to now, could you feel proud and worthy. None of us could, we all have ugly thoughts, feelings, even actions. None of us can possibly earn the right to be given what God has given us.

      That is why we can be saved by grace and mercy alone.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Cameron

      exlonghorn

      absolutely, bring it on. I love to debate and discuss.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Funny thing how society works. You start believing when you need him but when all is set and done you forget what he has done for you.But anyways God bless those families that have lost their loved ones. They need the strength.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  17. Harv

    Which god are you referring to?

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

      All I can say is that I hope that justice will be served!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  18. One but not the same

    There is no free will. God is in complete control over everyone and everything...including everyone's thoughts. We are just conscious beings living through our own story that was written for each of us. It is the greatest story ever told.

    So why do seemingly good and bad things happen? Not only is it all a matter of perception, but a matter of what each of us need to experience in order to grow into higher and more intelligent beings. But to thoroughly understand this and have direct perception, one needs to understand the difference between the undying self, and the physical body that undergoes birth, old age, disease, and death...repetatively until we have experienced what we need to experience to see that we have no control in this world at all. This is a really uncomfortable thing to accept at first but nothing is happening by accident, or chance. Let go of you sense of control and see the magic all around you.

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

      Which God are you referring to? not the God of the Bible,the God of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ had made up His mind already in eternity past .He did not Create Robots but Human beings with abilities of choice.to say HE is in full control is an extreme view of Sovereignty. You are in the same light saying he is behind all the robbers in jail ,all the diseases that the world,poverty in the world.No NO human beings have made wrong choices that resulted in their own destructions.The God of Abraham and Isaac is a good God.The world is still standing because of His goodness,His grace,kindness,He upheld the world by the word of his Power.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  19. Heinrich

    133 people died in Syria today.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  20. Atheist = Thinker

    Almost 75% of Christians believe that the Earth is 6000 years old... This alone renders their opinions completely meaningless.

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

      Many atheists believe in crazier things.Take a theory and make it a religion.

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

      @Atheist=Stinker....you got any evidence to back up that lie?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      "Many atheists believe in crazier things.Take a theory and make it a religion."

      You're just full of assertions, but completely devoid of examples or proof... Just like every other believer. {sigh}

      July 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Ann Marie

      I don't know of a single Christian who thinks the world is 6000 years old. Stop spreading nonsense buddy.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Amos

      @just sayin- you shouldn't sigh so much

      July 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, ghouls, goblins or guns

      Anne Marie, you may not know any 6,000 year delusionals, but you can find some here:

      http://www.missiontoamerica.org/genesis/six-thousand-years.html

      July 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      @Ann Marie

      So you don't believe what the buybull says? I've got a nice warm spot set aside just for you when you come down.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Just call me Lucifer- don't think you'll find anything that says one has to be a literalist to go to Heaven.

      Of course though...Lucifer died quite a long time ago Babylon. But I am sure you knew that shining one.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Steve

      There are many false profits. Satan is working harder than ever within the church itself.

      Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

      Jeremiah 23:1-5

      July 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      @Lycidas

      I'm not a fallen angel... I was pushed. Did you know that I'm really Jesus?
      So whats it like to have carnal relations with goats?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "I'm not a fallen angel..."

      Of course not. There was no fallen angel in the Tanakh known as Lucifer.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Freddiefranklins

      "You're just full of assertions, but completely devoid of examples or proof... Just like every other believer. {sigh}" Says the human who believes in nothing and thinks that the universe and all living things just popped out of thin air one day.............. now that makes sense!
      Why is Christianity always the major target of atheists? If you don’t believe in anything, then why waste your time with people who believe we are not the smartest and most powerful forms of energy in the universe.
      The laws that have this wacko confined away from society right now are laws that are based off of religious values. They are the basis of what you follow whether you like it or not, otherwise you would be in jail and not posting on here that humans are the most intelligent beings in the universe.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214
Advertisement
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.