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. Senile Dementia

    People need to grow up and stop giving in to religious hallucinations. You can't hide from reality, regardless of what illusory nonsense you believe. Reality happens!

    July 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  2. derek

    I am simply answering the question of this article-–He was there in that room with each individual.
    This question is probably as old as religion itself. It is a stumbling block for some of us, and for many more at given moments of tragedy. There are as many answers to this question as there are people who care to engage in theological dialogue. One understanding is that yes, God allows "bad" things to happen; God does not cause them to happen.

    Most "bad" things which happen do so because God gives a radical freedom to his people; we are free people, not puppets on a string. But God does not cause "bad" things to happen. God loves us and grieves with us in our pain when "bad things" happen.

    Therefore, we might best respond by saying that God does not Will "bad" things to happen in life. Rather, "bad" things happen in the freedom that comes with the gift of life. When "bad" things happen to any of God's children, God is grieved and suffers with us, experienced most vividly in the hurt and suffering of Jesus the Christ for all humanity. Any "bad" thing which happens is never the last word. Rather, God is the deepest and last word, and that word is love and eternal life with God.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Senile Dementia

      In other words, what you just mentioned is also called masturbation. It feels good but doesn't really accomplish much.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  3. Jennifer Wilck

    God was in the responses of the heroes–those who sacrificed themselves for others, those who stayed to help their friends.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  4. Atheist = Thinker

    "When properly read, the Bible is the most powerful proof of atheism ever conceived"

    Isaac Asimov

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

      Are we appealing to some kind of authority here?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      "Are we appealing to some kind of authority here?"

      Thinking people (atheists) don't need an authority... We have the ability to be moral and ethical without having to answer to a fictional 'higher power'...

      July 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Senile Dementia

      Who needs proof? It's as obvious as gravity.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "We have the ability to be moral and ethical without having to answer to a fictional 'higher power'..."

      And yet instead of saying something original...you become an atheist sheep and quote someone you think carries some weight? Yeah...smart move.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      "And yet instead of saying something original...you become an atheist sheep and quote someone you think carries some weight? "

      LOL... Asimov is ten times the intellectual you are... Write a few classic books, then you can criticize him...

      July 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Atheist = Thinker- "LOL... Asimov is ten times the intellectual you are... Write a few classic books, then you can criticize him.."

      Ah..so you are appealing to an authority. You do know that is a fallacy right? Guess that means Asimov is at least 11 times the intellectual you are.
      Come on man...what expertise does Asimov have in the field of theology? He doesn't. Not saying his opinions aren't worth something...but it's not worth more than yours or mine.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      "Come on man...what expertise does Asimov have in the field of theology?"

      This isn't about theology, it's about logic and common sense, which disprove Theology. That's your error.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "This isn't about theology, it's about logic and common sense, which disprove Theology. That's your error."

      I am afriad it is in part. Of course though, this still doesn't do anything for the fallacy you committed.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Bryant Lister

      Lycidas..feel free to prove the atheists wrong. Just offer some verifiable, observable, testable proof of a supernatural deity. Otherwise, your 'appeal to authority' argument is groundless and simply a distraction.

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

      @Bryant Lister- I prove atheists wrong on many things everyday.
      Lol...I will, just as soon as you tell me a verifiable, observable test one can put toward a supernatural deity. Of course to be scientific you have to first define the deity. Please take you time and get back with us when you are ready.

      No dear one....if someone uses an apeal to authority...then they should be called out on it? Do you think atheists are "special" and need to break intellectual rules within debates?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  5. Paul Bearer

    Jeez! its a movie theater, not a freakin cemetary!!

    July 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  6. Sense not so common

    Even if there is a god, which I do not believe... Any god that "allows" or tolerates suffering of innocents will never get my devotion. I would rather burn in Hell for eternity than follow a being that lets childern suffer, even if I knew he was real. Believers always claim the almighty conjurs miracles and give him credit for the good but seperate him from the "evil" in this world...I for one do not buy it, never will.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  7. Bryant Lister

    This is such a silly question to ask in response to things that happen in the real world. There are much more serious things to deal with...the bankruptcy of our mental health system, the easy access to firearms that serve no purpose but to kill people, and the overabundance of violence in our society's entertainment. People can believe whatever silly fairy tales they want, talk to any imaginary friend they want, but a news organization should not be pandering to this religious cult nonsense.

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

      Why worry about a measly 80 years on Earth, when you can spend an Eternity in Heaven instead. Focus on the bigger picture.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Bryant Lister

      Gonan you can believe whatever fairy tale you want, but I will stick to reality. The mythologies of eternal life are simply an attempt by people who can't handle their own mortality.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  8. Mom of Three

    The same place God always is, only in the imaginations of people who cannot accept the reality that this is it. Such a waste of energy, money and time, religion is. I don't tell my children this fairy tale, it is a disservice to them.

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

      Excellent! One day we will leave all this nonsense behind. It would be nice to see a world without war for once.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  9. Fr33th1nk3r

    "Long story short is that everyone is a sinner, and everyone will die for this fact alone." Ah, yes. The usual convenient red herrings from Christians. When something good happens– it is God's will. When something terrible happens, it was a human "excercising his free will", or "we cannot understand Him". Typical.

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

      There is no magical man in the sky. It baffles me that so many ignorant people still embrace Bronze Age thinking. Grow up and stop all the magical thinking.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  10. Senile Dementia

    Don't even expose your kids to religious brainwashing until they reach adulthood. By then, hopefully, they will have learned some critical thinking. Religion would cease to exist.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  11. Snow

    So, question for christians.. when christ resurrected 3 days after "dying", why didn't he come in front of his nay'sayers and basically say "suck it y'all.. I am truly god".. why peep a show to 3 exhausted sleep deprived women and then go the merry way up to daddy-o? wouldn't that have cleared to the entire world with no question at all that he was god? why the cloak and dagger way of showing he is god?

    or could it be that those women simply hid the body and cooked up the rest?

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

      You're missing out on Doubting Thomas.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Jess V.

      That is not the only three he appered to, nor is Jesus God my good man.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  12. Young Autistic Man

    Unfortunately evil, such as the massacre, does happen in the world. The existence of evil and good does not prove or disprove the existence of a god. Nevertheless, I do believed in a personal god.

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

      No doubt he is as personal as you believe him to be.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  13. God

    Uhm...sorry. I was in Barbados. Even I need a vacation once in awhile.

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

      I knew I saw you there! You look like you gained a couple pounds. You need to get that six pack back.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  14. ys

    It is, of course, not our place to make up excuses for God's actions. Neither does justifying His behavior ease the pain, despite my belief that His knowledge and wisdom are infinitely beyond our own...

    Whatever God's reasons might or might not have been, there is something that struck me when I first heard about the tragedy: that night, people around the country gathered to "enjoy" the "entertainment" of carnage and murder in the plot of a Hollywood film. Of course, when such horros strike in real life, there is nothing enjoyable or entertaining about it...

    There is no justifying what this sick man did to his fellow human beings. But perhaps we, as a society, ought to take a lesson that such violence and suffering are not fun, or cool, or entertaining at all - not in real life, and not on the big screen. Perhaps it's time for a personal stocktaking about what thrills us, and our children - the future of our planet, to the core of our beings?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  15. JW

    The best answer I have found

    July 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  16. pbernasc

    there is no God, God is just an idea

    July 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  17. ArthurP

    Murder is just God's way of recalling defective souls.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  18. Gonan

    You guys are forgetting a few things when you're complaining about if there is a God or not.

    First of all, the wages of sin is death. The only being in this world that can save you from eternal death is Jesus Christ our Lord. He did this by dying on the cross so that we may have eternal life through Him.

    Now people are saying the victims are innocent, well were these people deserving of this death? Probably not, but did they deserve to die? Well the Bible says everyone must die for their sins, so in turn they did their Earthly duty. Only two people in the history of this planet have not died for their sins yet, and those people are Elijah and Enoch. They will be sent back (pretty soon it looks like with the way of the world unfolding) to Jerusalem to preach the gospel during the end times, but then murdered on the street for the whole world to see. Thus the two prophets will be fulfilling their life's duty, to die.

    God can not interfere with free will. We are all doomed to be sinners, and God must allow free will to take place. If God comes down from Heaven and stops this man from murdering twelve people, then this man can say " I was never going to do this act, I was not going to sin". God allowing free will allows man to indeed follow the path of a sinner, just like how Satan wants it. Satan wanted to be God, but got cast out of Heaven, and decided to ruin God's perfect Creation by tempting Eve to commit sin.

    Long story short is that everyone is a sinner, and everyone will die for this fact alone. Satan will try to influence many people into taking other peoples lives, so that they can not be saved. But remember, God says that every man will say there is no God before he dies. Everyone has a choice. Many choose to side with Satan.

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

      It's the 21st century, and you really believe this stuff?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Wow... Your parents really did a number on you.

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

      It is very simple to believe. Man will try to prove their is no God, but in the end will prove to themselves how wrong they are.
      UFO's are just a hoax from Satan to get you to believe that when God returns and take millions and millions of believers into heaven with Him, you heathens will just blame aliens.

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

      @Gonan: I brand thee, Westborough Member...

      July 24, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Peace2All


      ..."UFO's are just a hoax from Satan to get you to believe that when God returns and take millions and millions of believers into heaven with Him, you heathens will just blame aliens."

      What ? 😯


      July 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • noevidence

      Yep, we all have a choice. I choose Coke, cause Pepsi just doesn't taste right. I voted for Obama, but I also voted for Bush before that. But for my mystical fake deity, I choose Satan every time. Live life, with Satan!

      Stop being such an idiot. You're doing our educational system a great disservice, and that's hard to do.

      You all repeat the same blabbering.. Jesus christ our lord died for our sins, so that we may have everlasting life. Are you listening to yourself at all? How can you possibly think those words make any sense at all?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  19. Harry Heuser

    Where was god in Aurora? Simple, it doesn't exist.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  20. Alex

    There was no god in Aurora because there is no magical sky man. We're all worm food, so deal with it.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:42 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.