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. MT

    Kind of funny, isn't it, that Christians can explain an event like this by saying god doesn't act to intervene when people are mean to each other. That's exactly what would happen if god was fictional. If there's no difference between a mythical god and a real one, what's the point?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Matt Slick

      If there is no difference then there is no point, but that is a logical necessity. The issue is whether or not he is mythical. Don't beg the question! Think! If you want to debate God's existence, call my radio show. carm.org/radio

      July 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  2. Big Man

    The way to view reality is to move away from the unnatural judeo-christian religious fantasy.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  3. James Randolph

    Since your god doesn't exist... that answers your question. You're Welcome!

    July 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  4. Marshall

    Many believers have explanations that satisfy them; many nonbelievers have the same. Both sets of explanations describe the same horrific reality: twelve people dead.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  5. Jeff Nates

    God was in the theater, he caused the machine gun to jam and spare that many more innocent lives, he was there to direct those who helped others. In short, God was in the theater offsetting Evil

    July 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Big Man

      Ahem, yeah, right.

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

      So he spared some innocent lives but allowed others to be cut down. So he didn't allow the full exercise of free will, but he did allow the murder of twelve. I don't see how that's a comfort.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Jeff Nates

      God was in the theater, he caused the machine gun to jam and spare that many more innocent lives, he was there to direct those who helped others. In short, God was in the theater offsetting Evil "

      So... God couldn't quite handle the situation ?


      July 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I called it. I knew some moron would show up claiming that Gawd caused the gun to jam.

      How silly can you be?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • 21k

      and he didn't jamb the gun at the start because...? oh, never mind, i remember: god works in strange ways. that's right.
      1. god made it
      2. god did it.
      3. god works in strange ways. the xtian science text.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  6. A voice among many

    We are subjected to live and die in a world surrounded by hate and violence; while most strive to share a little peace with one another. We are judged by our actions and by our words that lead to action. Was God there? Who knows. Does he exist? I believe so, and being a christian I am asked to share that believe with you as well. I fee the real question is where was God for you? I can only imagine that many of the people commenting on this debate are not directly effected by the tragedy in Colorado, and if you were I pray for your peace. It is easy to simply state that God does not exist because of your mis-givings or misfortunes. Doubt and question are what drive faith to be. One either has it or does not. Where was God? It is a timeless question with no concrete answer. With faith and prayer we can ask him. I live my life with thanks, and try to question the reason of my existence not for my own gain but for my salvation. Whether salvation lies in this life or the next, it matters most with what you do with your time, and for those with whom you come into contact. Faith to some is make believe, like a fiction novel, with no proof. But is the proof not in the air we breathe? We are blessed to be having this conversation openly, to be born in a nation that allows us to think and speak our own free will. Some people are sadly born into hatred or over time are corrupted into evil, and they will have to pay for their sins in this life or the next. Faith can be a choice, as so can evil. Where was God? Ask him, yet know there are alot of people in the world to answer. This one particular case however a tragedy is still one of many. I do not pretend to know or understand God's will, but I am thankful for the gift of life and salvation on earth. Having Faith, although so hard for some to achieve, can be the difference between living happily or dying to come up with answers to the questions we simply are not meant to comprehend. Go with Peace my bretheren.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  7. csx

    God is on our side and he is pained more than us, proof, look to the cross.

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

      A grave marker or other symbol proves nothing about your claims about god. Try again.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      If God is 'pained', it's because of how his followers act.

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

      Sadly, that's not proof. You'd first have to proove that Jesus was divine, which must be taken on faith. Christians don't have proof! If the Bible is right, that's by design.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  8. starlightsessions

    The question doesn't make sense. God created existence, and right and wrong exist as constructs of that existence... It isn't God's place to tinker with the decisions that are made here, because he is outside of our reality. The ultimate reality in which God exists does not have things such as right and wrong. It just wouldn't make sense for you to create a plane of existence where free thought, good, evil, right, and wrong existed and then impose your own will and supercede the decisions made by man.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  9. Jon

    Anne Graham said this when asked "Why did God let 9/11 happen?" I think the response that she gives works for this tragedy as well. This is just a snippet of her response:

    She said "I believe that God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman that He is, I believe that He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand that He leave us alone?"

    Google "Why did God allow 9/11 to happen?" for more!

    July 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • 21k

      so in order for god to help out in situations like this, or to prevent them, every single person on the earth has to become an xtian. that is your point, correct?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • patrick harris

      Jon, your a crack pot... there is no such thing you wacko

      July 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  10. SO

    The problem is that people can buy guns. God is there. But we need gun control. The problem is that buying a gun is too easy here in the US.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • 21k

      the gop only stands up to the nra when one of their own is affected, ie, reagan.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Big Man

      The issue is not guns. It is society. A society that has gone over the edge due to affluence (false, debt-driven wealth) and $media$.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • 21k

      so that fact that any nutcase in colo. can go out and buy machine guns doesn't have any part in this?
      you lie to yourself about how harmless a gun society is , as convincingly as xtians do about god.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  11. Erd

    The fact that people only pray for big overarching things like happiness, success, love etc and never to have their broken leg healed or their wallet filled with cash shows how even they know the ridiculousness of the entire proposition. Keep on crying to god if it makes you feel better, but it's a waste of time.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  12. JAY

    He was right there welcoming his fallen children home. Grieving for this "one" fallen from grace and salvation. Choose light and home with Him or the darkness of never coming home to Him. He gave free will to us all, choose you this day who you will serve.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  13. The_Pope_is_just_another_man

    I knew this blog would turn into a debate on the existence of God.No one actually knows the truth.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  14. nc1965

    Headline: Where was God in Aurora?

    God is where he's always been. In our hearts and minds.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Well, you're half right... God is in your head.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  15. Matt Slick

    Where was God in the Aurora shooting? He was on the outskirts of society looking in because that is where he has been relegated to. The secular dominated society doesn't want God to be Lord of their lives because He is inconvenient. He requires repentance from sin. He asks for honesty, integrity, self sacrifice, holiness, faithfulness, fidelity, etc. So society ignores Him. But if something bad happens - due to society's rebellion against God and his moral standards - they whine and question his existence. They complain against him as though they have the right to question his permissive will. Soceity does this in its hypocrisy and ignorance. But that is the immature childlike behavior of secularism. It wants its rebellion from God without the responsibility of its actions. It wants to satisfy its physical needs and ignores the moral requirements that must precede and guide our self-serving comfort. It makes its own subjective morals and complains against the God of absolute morality when things don't go smoothly. So where was God during the Aurora shooting? He was on the outside, grieving over the sinful consequences of a people who have rejected His ways. And, as any good parent would do to his children, in order to teach them in their hard-hearted rebellion, he let's them suffer the consequences of their self-imposed "wisdom" so they might learn that their ways are not God's ways. http://www.carm.org

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

      No god thus it does nto matter what we think of it.

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

      Everything you said is correct. People today judge God when it is convienent the rest of the time he doesnt exist for them. Believe in Jesus and follow him and you will find that death is a doorway to life. Reject him and you will find there are worse things than death. Praise his holy name!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • Mark

      Very good point AI. Using a cross to symbolize each death implies that only Christians were murdered, which suggest that the deity might be looking out more for infidels, than those who pray to him to protect them from harm.

      Remember, Christianity teaches that god drowned almost everyone including children, babies, and fetuses, in a great flood. Now if that's not mass murder, what is?

      And yes, I realize the murderous Christian Deity, that many people swear exist, and are scared of, is a creation of the human mind, and strictly a mythological character.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  16. Denver

    If you choose, go to http://www.chcc.org and listen to Lee Strobel (July 22 sermon) discuss where was God in Aurora and in all places where evil comes forward.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  17. Ryan L

    I have always had an issue with this question. Let's say for argument sake that god is real. This god (to me) would have no human emotions, this god could not get happy, mad, sad etc.. I believe in a god, but I'm not sure on what this god is and it could not be a god if it's thought process was filled with human emotions (the only way we describe god to be). We are far from understanding the nature of our universe...

    July 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  18. Joe Miller

    It's time we grew up as a species and stopped pretending there is some all-knowing all-seeing all-powerful being up in the sky somewhere watching over us. It's a fairy tale. It's a crock. Aurora happened because a deranged person made the choice to murder innocent people, that's it. God had nothing to do with it, period. We are responsible for ourselves and each other. If we want to make the world a better place we have to work hard to make it happen. And still bad things will continue to happen to innocent people because that's just the way the world is. Those people just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. God didn't decree in his big book that their time was up.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Jim Crawford

      Well said Joe!

      July 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  19. csx

    ok, a question from ignorance. For by one man sin fell upon al men...Adam. We have the penalty of death. But Jesus paid he price to set us free. We are not robots, we either serve ourselves or God. Now chose.

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

      blah blah blah

      July 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  20. Peter

    That's the most stupid question... Where was God? Exactly at the same place as always. In our hearts... Was He in the heart of the killer...? I don't think so... The killer intentionally removed God from his heart.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:48 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.