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. Adam

    Evil is not a thing unto itself, but the absence of good; a lacking of compassion, empathy, and respect for life causes people to do things that are perceived by many as evil. If one possesses these qualities in any measure you could not commit these kinds of acts. Your belief in God is not relevant considering some believers commit these acts in God's name. I would argue that these individuals suffer from a complete lack of humanity.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  2. sean

    It should be pointed out that all of the founding fathers for the united states were Christian. They didnt do too badly when creating this Christian state we live in. Condemn the wrongs that men do on the men who do them and not the beliefs that got us all to where we are.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Please re-study history and get back to us.


      July 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Henry

      Christian state? Do you live in the Vatican?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • sean

      As all of the founding fathers were AFAM and it is a requirement that you believe in a higher power I feel confident that I am right. Thanks for the comment.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • sean

      henry – thanks for that I enjoyed the laugh. You know the funny part others wont understand your little joke.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Apatheist

      lol.... That is bs... If you don't believe me start with looking up Jefferson's Bible!

      July 24, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  3. Weny Caballero

    God was there aching for His children.

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

      God's achy breaky heart... Doesn't this sound a bit crazy?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  4. Starsnova

    Religious people are weak dilutional people that need something to fall on because they don't have enough faith in them selfs

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

      It could also be argued that those on either side, that lean on logical fallacies, lack faith in themselves. There is nothing inherently wrong with someone that holds to their convictions. There is an inherent contradiction with stating a belief as probable, based on an absence of evidence, without having sufficient qualification. When it comes to debating God, probability is irrelevant, unless you could qualitatively quantify every bit in the hyper-dimensional multi-verse or universe [however you like to think of it]. To claim otherwise is to be a victim of illusory superiority. I subscribe to the idea such illusion takes root in the desire for social acceptance. Truly, if you believe in such a thing as truth, it's a weakness for those seeking control, where they ought not have it, by effect, to seek such control over your peers is indicative of one's self being out of control.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  5. abarnabi

    Great link from a woman that was actually in theater. http://aminiatureclaypot.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/so-you-still-think-god-is-a-merciful-god/

    July 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Just -In

      u thimk u can deal with God!!>> Go Ahead make fun and he will deal with u son..ul see
      .cnn is a godless media

      July 24, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • the voice of reason

      And "just-in" posted on a godless media. So what does that make them?? Contributor to a godless media??

      July 25, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  6. dave

    If we take the Bible at face value, God gives us the opportunity to overcome this world like Jesus overcame this world. Best news on planet earth, bare none!

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

      "If we take the bible at face value", then you should make sure to follow these pagan steps in order to appease your god, otherwise he may come at you with a crazed gunman, but intervene and jam the firearm when it is pointed at a believer:

      10 “‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, you are to offer a male without defect. 11 You are to slaughter it at the north side of the altar before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. 12 You are to cut it into pieces, and the priest shall arrange them, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. 13 You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to bring all of them and burn them on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.

      The bible is shoddy at best, even with a lot of analysis and metaphor. Taken at face value, it's a complete turd.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  7. Amazing Grace

    So let me understand this, when something good happens, all credit goes to God, when something bad happens, oh, let's blame the same God that blessed us yesterday and the day before yesterday. Have you thought about your sins?

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

    Tfitz13 just claimed he can prove that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny aren't real. Grab your popcorn!

    July 24, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  9. Lukas

    Where was God in Aurora Massacre? He was in the same place as when he allowed His Son to be crucified on the Cross. Evil is in this world. All of us will face death. The question is Where will you spend eternity?


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

      The Bahamas.

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

      Bahamas are overrated... Go with Bermuda, only 1.5 hour flight from east coast

      July 24, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  10. Ruben

    TJ is one of those brainless jesus freak who created God to answer everything they don't comprehend. The worse crimes in humanity are comitted by so called believers. Heaven is a fantasy that helps you sleep at night. Your imaginary friend makes you believe you are not alone and protected from danger. "Everybody wants to go to heaven, yet nobody wants to die" because they're not so sure about heaven...

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

      Using ad hominem never made any debater more intelligent, no matter what the argument was about. In fact, resorting to such is a good indication for a lack thereof.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  11. the voice of reason

    There's more tap dancing on this thread than Fred Astaire ever performed. The human mind is capable of rationaliizing anything, as shown in most of these posts. Where was god?.....silly question, sillier answers.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  12. Gen

    God was just where he is to this day. Sitting at the right hand of the throne. Unfortunately, we live in a crooked world where Satan is the prince of the air. Just because God does not stop everything horrible in our lives, does not mean he does not exist. Sin is alive and present and it will only get worst because of the type of world we live in. Noone deserves to die, but every person has his appointed time. We cannot question why death happened to those that were killed, only God knows and we should not questIon something we will never know the answer. The question is, when it is your time, will you be ready to meet him because it is heaven or hell after death.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  13. Karen Handley

    Where was God in Aurora Massacre? He was in the same place as when he allowed His Son to be crucified on the Cross. Evil is in this world. All of us will face death. The question is Where will you spend eternity?

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

      In Heaven along with everybody else.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  14. Lukas

    God gives people free-will on this Earth. Read the holy Bible.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Read the holy bible with an open mind... And you'll see it as the poorly-written, fictional storybook that it is.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  15. Ray

    God is at work in all of us. This world along with what happens in it is our creation.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  16. Amazing Grace

    I am happy those twelve were all Christians. We know and they knew where they are now.

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

      No I wish they were atheists so we get rid of the devils

      July 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • No religion thank you

      Wow. What a heartless thing to say.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  17. Henry

    Easy enough to answer: There is no god–at least not the kind that we have anthropomorphised into something we think we can understand.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  18. Rob

    So let me understand this, when something good happens, all credit goes to God, when something bad happens, oh, it's free will, God doesn't intervene.
    Time to put those bed time story to bed, it's 21st century people

    July 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  19. Mopery

    Where was god? The same place he's always been, in your imagination.

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

      That's the truth right there folks.

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

      Where is God? Not in your imagination. When tragedies hit, as they always will, it brings out the best in some and the worst in others. God resides in your heart.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  20. Mark

    He doesn't control us. He doesn't "make" us do things. He created us, and is now letting us do what we will. It's called free will, and it isn't a hard concept to understand.

    July 24, 2012 at 8:59 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
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.