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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. OrthoPA

    If anyone has read the book "The Shack", you may find the author's depiction on why GOD allows pain and suffering (recall the man in the book had a young daughter who was abducted and murdered). He said something to the effect that GOD loves us so much, he leaves us to manage our own lives and destiny. I realize this book is fiction, but I felt that the explanation as to why HE (or SHE) doesn't intervene in instances where we would welcome it, actually made sense to me on a real level. Just my thinking...

    July 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Romans

      I wouldn't go to "the shack" for any spiritual guidance or theological accuracy. That book has made a mockery of the trinity and in terms of the problem of evil, it does not explain it as well as scripture does.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Madtown

      That book has made a mockery of the trinity
      ------
      The trinity is a creation of the human mind.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Red

      Using fiction to explain the concepts present in other works of fiction.

      Appropriate.

      July 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  2. Kiko

    what happens when belive in fictional characters........nothing so stop think that some god is going to help you

    July 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      are you talking about the kid identifying himself as the joker or god ?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Tim

      Free will is a great gift so use it wisely.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  3. Doug

    In our society we want God to prevent anything really tragic from happening. When God created the earth and us He intended to care for us in that way in exchange for following a few simple rules – but He gave humans the free will to stray from that plan as our choice. Genesis tells us that humans did just that and God has honored the choice of the human race ever since.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Madtown

      Well, Genesis was written by men, in an effort to try and explain things that are just unexplainable, and to satisfy their innate human need to come up with answers for questions that we have. It's ok to not know everything. It's not ok to make up answers, just because we'd like some answers.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  4. NOT MY CHAIR

    well it really comes down to two thing
    1) there is no god. which i can go on and on about why i think there is none or
    2) your god doesn't care about us he only wants you to worship him while he watches the world suffer, which doesn't really sound like he deserves your worship

    July 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Legalizeit

      There is a God, and you sir are not Him......believing in nothing makes you weak

      July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      i believe in science not fairy tales. believing in magic makes you delusional

      July 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • jimmer

      ".believing in nothing makes you weak"

      Believing in iron age fairy tales make you fvcking nuts.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Tim

      So you go where the wind blows.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Amanda

      1.God gave us our agency, not because he thought we would be perfect, but because he knew the only way for us to learn was through mistakes.
      Then you ask but that makes him a dick right because he allows bad things to happen...
      2. God also provided a Savior Jesus Christ to atone for the mistakes we make with our agency, to allow us to learn through mistakes and become more like him through trial and error, (some people chose to not become more like him). It is also through the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we can be healed of all the pain and hurt of the sins of the world both ours and those of other people. That is what the atonement of Christ was for ALL the sins, not just to help us get to heaven, but to heal us when we are heartbroken from the choices of others. It is through this process that we grow closer to Christ and become more like him, and thus more like God the Father.

      Life here on Earth was not meant as a vacation, or relaxation cruise. We are here to learn, to hurt, and to also find joy. There can be no joy without suffering, If you have never known pain, you can never know the wonder of relief of pain, You will not be able to empathize with the pain of another have you not experienced it.

      So, Yes Virginia, there is a God. He loves you! He loves you so much that he wants you to become like him, and he knows the only way to do that is from having choices, making mistakes, and dealing with the choices of others. He provided you a Savior to heal you from your wrong choices and the wrong choices of others, and if you will let him he will do just that.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • elb1999

      Amanda,

      What you laid out makes sense, but you could go through all the experience of a normal life, the joy and pain and become a more loving and "good" person without ever believing in god. There are millions of people who do just that. If your path to that revelation is god/jesus/the holy spirit good for you, however that does not prove his existence, it only proves you've found something that works for you.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Bri Guy

      Amanda, well said. Great words of wisdom.

      elb1999
      You are absolutely correct. The only thing I would ask is who defines what is "good"? Most of us believe in the definition that Christ taught: Love God, love your neighbor, do good to all men, love your enemies, turn the other cheek, etc. As much as you or anyone for that matter wants to separate themselves from God it still comes down to what you believe. Right and wrong.

      There's a book that I think Amanda might be familiar with that says "Wickedness never was happiness." That has made so much of a difference in my life and I know it is true. elb maybe you don't realize that by living a good life as you say above you are actually living the type of life that God wants us to live even if you don't recognize God or believe in Him. Of course God wants us to recognize Him and to get to know him. If we will do that He can make more out of us than we can on our own. I have experienced that in my own life.

      The book I referenced above is The Book of Mormon in case anyone was wondering. Take it for what it is.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  5. 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 mean time we all experience trials and tribulation due to living in an ungodly world. That is why Jesus taught his followers the Lords Prayer...".to pray for God's Kingdom to come."

    July 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Al

      So, Harleyxx, you're just going with whatever explanation you dream up then? There is not a shred of evidence for anything you've said.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      so in your opinion god made us a play pen then filled it with razor blades? that sounds like a loving god.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Harleyxx

      Satan is the God of this system of things. The Bible clearly says so:

      (1 John 5:19) 19 We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the [power of the] wicked one. (The wicked one is Satan)
      (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) . . ., 4 among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through. . .(Once again referring to Satan)

      July 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Kate

      Delusional much? People like Harleyxx should be banned from owning any kind of weapons. And maybe from driving too.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Red

      Is no-one else worried that a significant portion of the American populous believes that an evil spirit-angel is responsible for the atrocities that occur at the hands of men? How is it that we believe in the same hokum that the uneducated believed in a thousand years ago?

      It's like we, as a people, are deliberately denying ourselves the faculty of reason.

      It's no wonder the US graduates less than a quarter of scientifically literate post-grad students as China. Who wants to study how to make the world better when you can take the responsibility for its cure out of your own hands?
      It's downright CHILDISH.

      July 26, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  6. Lando

    God was watching man destroying itself. Without faith and love and with free will man will destroy itself!.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  7. 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.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  8. keith

    Idiots. What a stupid question.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  9. Shawn

    He's in the North Pole with Santa and the Easter Bunny.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Ken

      Yup, that's exactly right!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  10. Avery

    How about we all sit back and not speak for god…let him/her/them come down here and explain it. No, I won't accept a self appointed spokesperson. No, a sign won't do. If no deity shows up in the next day or so, I'm going to have to assume that's because there is no such thing, or if there is it's irrelevant and we need to figure this out ourselves.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Romans

      God already came down to our level. Thats old news

      July 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Romans

      This is what every non believer demands of God. Come down here and prove yourself (even though there is plenty of proof and evidence already)!!! Show me evidence!! If God came down and showed himself to you, would that make you choose to love him? Worship him? I'm willing to bet it would make people hate him all the more.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Avery

      You mean if I met your god in person I wouldn't like him? Why worship a god you don't even like? That's just propitiating a bully or worse a manipulative psychopath. You need to see someone about this abusive relationship you're in.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  11. Jesse R

    You see that is the problem. Liberals have made it impossible for God to be anywhere during the upbringing of a child. Can't have any religious conotations in schools, libraries, governmnet offices, etc, etc. Young men (and women) are growing up with no real sense of right and wrong. They are not tought basic respect that should be given to parents and the elderly. 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 occassions since religion and god dissappeared from the what the founding fathers once said was a necessity of a successful democracy.... faith.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • URgod not there

      Faith is an opnion and morality has NOTHING to do with religion or belief

      July 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Jesse

      Ya wanna bet Bozo the Shooter Clown was a Jeebus Freak?

      Uptight parents, nightmare family of indoctrinated robots who KNEW he was nuts and didn't do a damn thing to protect the world from their ungodly offspring?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Madtown

      right of religion, but rather the right FROM religion
      ------
      Right, just as the founders of this country intended.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Getaneducationplease

      "Liberals have made it impossible for God to be anywhere during the upbringing of a child." Probably the stupidest thing I've read all day. Yeah damn those liberals for making religion illegal.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  12. Bob

    Simple theory to follow: In this act and all terrible acts, evil was present. God is present when people help each other.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Bob

      Why is God always running late if he is omnipotent?

      Perhaps he dosen't actually care?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • jimmer

      So the fvcking magical sky wizard only does good stuff.

      He just sits idly while the bad stuff happens and does nothing?

      He seem like a complete and total dick head to me.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Tim

      God isn't a wizard he is Obama. He can lower the oceans.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  13. Rebecca

    Nowhere. God doesn't exist. There is no security blanket. You have to deal with life on your own with nothing divine to intervene. Grow up and take personal responsibility.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • URgod not there

      Exactly.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  14. keith

    What a STUPID question.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Tim

      It is cnn.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  15. Chris Stamp

    We are on Earth not in Heaven. S#&% will happen. Look at his only son and how he died.
    As far as we know he did intervene. That psycho could have blown up a chemical bomb killing even more.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • William Demuth

      So your God is a God of half measures?

      Partial omnipotence?

      Or maybe you have been decieved, and he is a lie?

      Think about it.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  16. samantha

    God is ALWAYS good.

    Man, unfortunately, is not.

    Don't get the two confused.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Perfection can not spawn imperfection.

      Simple logic.

      Either he is perfect, and thus we are, or he is as screwed up as we are, or perhaps he dosen't really exist.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  17. joaquin howard

    It's so sad that most American still believe that an invisible man exists and that this invisible being they call "GOD" created another invisible being called,"SATAN". Why must we pretend to know things we couldn't possibly ever know to explain things that actually happen on our planet? What happened in Aroura is very simple to explain... A sick man killed some innocent people. Do we need to take it any further than that America?

    July 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Tim

      Like the big bang?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Smarka

      The big bang makes more sense than an invisible super-being that somehow always existed and yet created everything...with magic...who will allow you to be tortured for all eternity unless you believe one certain story out of the thousands that have been the prevailing religious fairy tale at one point or another in history.

      The big bang theory will change if contrary evidence appears. With the blind faith thing...not so much...

      July 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  18. Zerotolorence

    Ok. First, this nation olny wants God when something like this happens. 2nd Where was God? The same place he has been for 2000 years, prepaireing a place for us? so why did this happen. Who knows? Other then this guy was clearly a Batman fan. This scene came from a Batman comic. The Dark Knight Returns. 3rd God has a plan for everything. Int he book of Job he shows us that satan has to ask for premission for things to happen.Just like in the book of Job God has a outcome that will be a victory! Job couldnt see it . We cant see it . However it is going to happen according to GODS will not mans or satans. Lastly This is not evidance that we are being judged by God...It is evidance that we have been found guilty before Him. Prayers for those that lost loved ones. The nation morns with you .

    July 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Preparing a place for us? For six thousand years?

      Hell, a half stoned Mexican maid can prepare a room in a La Quinta in six minutes.

      Surely your all powerfull, all seeing and divine God can do better than that.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  19. Northstar56

    Our idea of a human-like personal God is an ancient myth, reflecting our own human desire and hopes. But just because this kind of God does not appear to exist, does not mean that God, in fact, does not exist. I think many have developed a more mature and realistic perspective on God (to the extent we can even know or understand such things given our inherrent human limitations) in which God exists as a pure fundamental consciousness or state from which all of existence arises. This God does not control anything, but rather continues to perpetually emanate as reality – iclcuding everything and everyone. This God creates reality moment by moment freely, through all of the natural forces that arise freely from a chaotic environment and system.God is present in the consciousness of every conscious being and is aware according to the conscious capacity of that being. God was present in all of the victims, and everyone else. God was present in the killer as well. The tragedy is that the killers awareness was so distorted and twisted that he could not see or be aware of the intrinsic priceless value of every person he gunned down. He could not see the priceless value of himself and inflicted upon himself the dark numbness of being oblivious to the horror of his own actions. God is blocked and muted in him. But God came forth in every human heart wounded by this terrible event. It mourns still through the surviving relatives. It grieves in every heart of every person who cares about a single precious human being. In some of us, it rises as a desire to find the antidote to such madness and to act if possible to help those so tragically afflicted – so that this unspeakable terror may not be repeated again. Our answer is to bring the Love that God is out of ourselves, to heal our human afflictions and weaknesses if possible. To comfort those who mourn. To continue on with the great ambition, to become better people and to try to make this a better world. There is no darkness in human life so deep, that it cannot be overcome with love. This is our true hope...

    July 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Jason

      Amen. I could not have said it better myself, though I will elaborate my view just a tad. To ask where God is – as I believe Keith is trying to point out – is a stupid question, for God is always present. As tragic and joyful as life can be, it furthers a greater purpose than we could ever comprehend.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Denise Meletiche

      beautifully said i couldnt had said it better myself..

      July 25, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  20. Yours truly

    He was busy helping someone win an athletic event.

    Great question being asked and as mere mortals we can just grasp at straws for an answer.

    No one said this would be easy

    .

    July 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
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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.