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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. matt

    God was in the same place that Batman, Super Man, and The Avengers were: in some people's imagination.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • James

      Well, Batman wasn't too far away.

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

      I know, I wonder why he didn't help all of those people who came to watch his movie!

      July 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  2. jcstauff

    Seeing so many agnostic and atheist responses gives me hope for the future of man. I hope that by the time my grandchildren are coming up, no one will even think to seriously ask the question, "Where was god?" I look forward to the day when god lives only in the distant past.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  3. Luke

    Non-Christians should be banned from the U.S., and I mean it.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Yet another freedom-hating Christian... Shocking.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • matt

      Well since atheists have an average IQ that is higher than that of religious folk, you'd be losing the brains of the operation.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • ColtAR15

      And Christians should all be set ablaze for our (atheists) amusement. And I'm not kidding.

      See. Atheists can say ridiculous things too.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  4. JB

    God allows bad things to happen to good people for the same reason that bigfoot allows bad things to happen to good people.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  5. Clearly Abnormal

    When Jesus was on the earth, He was clear about where this kind of act originates. He said that satan comes with the purpose of stealing, killing and destroying. The idiot satan is the one behind this event.

    God has gone to the extremes of His ability and power to give us the power and tools to put a stop to satan, but again and again people refuse to do so. People who reject the words of God (Jesus) don't have a chance to begin with, and Christians who don't take the time to read and learn how to dominate and subdue satan and the killers he sends are those of whom God speaks when He says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." The killings are result of the failure of people to do their job, not God.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • matt

      I remember when I used to believe in the toohfairy.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  6. Jon

    God didn't intervene at the theater because he was too busy helping me find my car keys. Which I found, thank God!

    July 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Rob

      LMFAO dude

      July 24, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  7. James

    Which god are they talking about? People have believed in so many different ones throughout history.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  8. Amazing Grace

    http://mediasuite.316networks.com/player.php?p=ss15m550

    July 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  9. Believer

    Where was God? He was right there when this horrible crime was happening. He has given us "free will". He did not "allow" this to happen," we" did. Our reluctance to reach out to help each other, the insensitivity to others we display. God has big shoulders so go on and get mad at him, he won't mind and more importantly he wants you to. Better to be mad and pray to God than not have him in your life at all.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      OR, there is no god and stuff just happens. Good people do good things. Bad people do bad things. And a bunch of folks fall in between. Consider the basis of Occam's Razor...'All things being equal, the simplest explanation is more often correct.’ We live in a complex world where the answer to any question is often very complex. All things being equal, with no more evidence for one solution than another, we should not posit the existence of an agent we do not need to explain a phenomenon. When thinking about a subject, we should use the simplest reasoning possible unless the evidence compels us to include an extra agency. Theists, GOD IS THAT EXTRA AGENCY.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  10. Rob

    the answer is simple, there's no God

    July 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  11. Ashley

    God does not exist, that is why.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  12. Scott S.

    Some may see this as evidence of God's nonexistence. Perhaps it is time we face a more frightening possibility: Our powers of explanation are not sufficient enough to make sense of the tragic.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  13. debbie

    Jehovah God is present but just not putting his "figurative" hand out to do anything. He has been allowing mankind to rule themselves for the last 6,000 years of mankind. When Adam and Eve decided they could break the one command God gave them which he had the right to command since he is the Creator, they lost for themselves and all mankind worldwide everlasting life on Paradise Earth. Ever since then he has been attempting to guide men back to his ways and will but they keep refusing. Only because of his Son Jesus will mankind be freed from this horrible bond of sin and imperfection and death. The day will come when Jesus will rid this earth of evil and all those who promote themselves in opposition to the Creator. It's all in the Bible. From beginning to the end and the answers to mankind's questions he keeps asking, like "where was God during all this and all other disasters and horrible events?.. People need to read their Bibles more and study it and they will get answers to their questions that make sense, are resonable and logical. Only then will things make sense to you and as Jesus said, "the truth will set you free".

    July 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  14. TFitz13

    God gave us a choice; good or evil. And it's not just for "believers" or "athiests." Everyday all of us are presented with the choice to do what is good or evil. It's called free will. If we didn't have it then nothing in this world would matter. Nothing is predetermined, but we have choice. Obviously this man chose evil, as so many people do every day. Yet people don't scream and yell "Where is God?" unless it's a mass murder. I'm sure it's been said in many posts that God was in the same place that he was when his son was crucified on the cross. God allows good and evil to exist without stepping in as is shown by his willingness to allow his son to die at the hands of evil people. I am upset that CNN has decided to pose this question as it seems that it's just a ploy for people to have heated arguments over the existence of God. People died at the hands of a crazed gunman and I think we can all agree on that. This man chose to do evil and injured or killed innocent people. Where is God in all this? He definitely was not in the heart of the shooter, but is now waiting and ready to comfort those who were impacted in this.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  15. Manuel J.

    God was there that day, whether you believe or not, as was exemplified by those in the theatre...

    John 15:13 translated
    There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.

    Psalm 23:4 translated
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • ColtAR15

      If "god" was there, and it is all-powerful, as you believers claim, and it did nothing to stop this, then your "god" is absolutely worthless...which of course, it is, since it DOES NOT EXIST!

      July 24, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Let's reset your logic and look at it a different way using cause-effect testing.

      You posit the cause effect relationship that God CAUSED people to give their life for another. By your reasoning, people COULD NOT give their life for another without God causing that to happen. What happened to free will???

      God caused the sensation of comfort in the victims through their faith. So, atheists are unable to experience comfort after tragedy?

      Your reasoning ls laughable.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  16. Joel

    God is not real.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  17. Kate

    God is where he has always been, in the minds of the gullible and desperate.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  18. Jim

    God helps those who help themselves.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • ColtAR15

      Your "god" helps no one, as he only exists in the minds frightened people.

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

      It's pretty hard to help yourself when a guy is pointing an automatic gun at your face after shooting your friend.

      July 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Jim

      ..."God helps those who help themselves."

      Interesting trivia... isn't that one of the sayings that many christians have believed was actually in the bible ?

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • TFitz13

      Ok Colt. One question for you. Where did matter come from? Obviously in the 3rd dimension that we live in there is this one little thing that makes this question more relevent in a discussion like this...time. If, as scientists and most everyone agrees, matter cannot be created or destroyed then how was it created and our solar system created? Where did it come from? Christians have an answer, because it is backed by one of the oldest and most historically correct books in the world, the Bible. So again, where's your proof? I've got mine.

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

      No, you don't, you goofball. You have faith. Not fact. Not proof.

      We may not know how something occurred; that doesn't mean it "must have been" a sky fairy.

      Now, about the Tooth Fairy...you were going to provide proof it isn't real. When are you going to quit stalling and do so?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • ColtAR15

      TFitz13, the bible is one of the "most historically correct books in the world." SERIOUSLY?

      ROTFLMFAO! It must be fun in make-believe world.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • TFitz13

      Colt, I will assume you have never read the Bible and are not all interested in archaeology or you wouldn't have made that statement. You can believe what ever you want to believe, but making fun of other people's beliefs without having studied them yourself just makes you ignorant.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      When you get on a blog and lie about your religious beliefs, people have every right to make fun of you.

      Why do you have to lie? Why can't you admit that you don't have proof but that you have faith? At least it would be an honest answer. Instead, you blather on about "creation" and the Bible as if you could "prove" something that isn't provable.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  19. patrick harris

    There is no such thing people.. and guess what, there is no such thing as the easter bunny, santa clause, the tooth ferry etc either..... sorry I had to be the one to have to tell you this 🙁

    July 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • TFitz13

      Ok Mr Harris. We can prove without a shadow of a doubt that the easter bunny, santa clause and the tooth fairy are not real, but where's your proof that God does not exist?

      July 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You can prove the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist? Do it, then. Produce proof now that there is no such being. I can hardly wait.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Nick

      If that is true why don't we free this guy. Survival of the fittest right? Or did you mean something else?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You need to work on your reading comprehension, Nicky.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Come on, TFitz, hurry up with that proof.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • bender

      TFitz13: I hope you truly do not belive that line of logic. Prove my farts are not the breath of god.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • TFitz13

      @TomTom. Has there ever been any truth to those stories? They were made up. We all know that. There has never been mention of the Tooth Fairy in any historical books. However, there is mention of God in a book full of historical facts. It's called the Bible. You should read it some time. As for proof that God exists, I'll tell you what I told someone else. Look around at this world. Where did it come from? Some say a big bang. That's fine. I rather enjoy learning about the solar system and I see how the planets are slowly drifting further away from the sun. Would indicate a "big bang." But where did the matter come from? If you don't believe in God, I assume you believe in science. And science says that matter can neither be created or destroyed. So where did it come from? At some point in time it had to be created... Ever hear of Occam's razor? Which is easier to believe? That there is only our dimension and the matter that caused the "big bang" just appeared at some point and broke every scientific law about matter, or that there is another realm/dimension that we can't comprehend as mere humans, but is a place where matter can be created and a being from that dimension created our world? It's a thinker, but I don't see how matter got here without a miracle of some sort...maybe God perhaps?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The Bible is not 'full of facts', you simpleminded twit.

      The existence of the universe is not proof that a sky-fairy 'created' it.

      Thanks for playing.

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

      You have yet to show proof that there is no Tooth Fairy. You say the stories are "made up". How do you know that the stories about your god aren't "made up"?

      And yeah, what bender said.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • TFitz13

      If you wanted to have a real discussion on the topic then I would. However it seems that you just want to play bash the Christian. That's fine. My post was full of truth and things to think about. And by the way...don't make statements that aren't true. Here's proof that the Bible is "full of facts." http://christiananswers.net/q-abr/abr-a008.html Science serves us both I guess...

      July 24, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      A Christian website? Sure, that's certain to be without bias.

      You're not very good at this, and it appears you are aware of that. You are running away because you don't have facts or proof even though you claimed you did. What you have is faith. Why isn't that enough for you? Why do you have to lie about it?

      July 24, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  20. Al

    Why are there 12 crosses? I find it hard to believe they were all Christians. No star of David? How about a stick with a brain to represent an atheist?

    July 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • USN RET

      atheists have a symbol for the top of their marker.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Teacher Chick

      So just because I'm a Christian I'm not smart? I am not a thinker? That is pretty rude and small minded of you who say Christians aren't smart. It was a awful think that happen, but we have freewill, so just because a terrible massacre occurred does not mean there isn't a God. All that means is some crazy guy exercised his choice of freewill. But if we continue to abandon God, he will continue to abandon us.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:13 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.