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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. † God with Us †

    I'm 100% sure that an atheist would have prayed if he/she was at the theater during this evil event happening.
    Yes, I'm positive.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      You're getting very boring very quickly...

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

      Ok sonny slow down with the posts.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  2. Kevin Barbieux

    Why are people so uncomfortable with not knowing? God is just a filling for all the gaps in human knowledge. As humans progress, and we learn more and more about the world and about life, we need god less and less.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  3. † God with Us †

    The majority of the world believed in God throughout the history, therefore God exists.
    Nonbelievers cannot tell us how they got here.

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

      this is why the marjority of the world is weak and dilutional, why marjority of all wars are due to religion. Who's god is the better one or right one. If god was there in the beginnig then there would be only one god and we would not have these problems. ( Ancient Aliens theorist)

      July 24, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  4. abeliver

    God is real God Is here. God gave us free will, it is up to us what we do with it. The guy that killed and wounded all thoes people made a bad choice with his free will and will answer to God on Judgment Day! Everyone will beleive in God on that day.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • steve langdon

      the words "free will" are not in the hebrew old testament or in the greek new testament. the god of organized religion does not exist.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  5. Daniel

    without suffering, there would be no compassion in this world.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Peace2All

      Without compassion there would be no suffering in the world ?

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  6. † God with Us †

    Christianity is the world's largest religion; therefore it's true and the most accurate.
    Even Roman Empire converted.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Troll...

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

      Ok boys and girls which logical fallacy is this statement guilty of?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • † God with Us †

      Call me whatever I want. I tell the truth.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @GAW

      *hand goes up*... 'Argumentum ad Populem' ! 😀

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  7. Peter Johngren

    Of course there is no god – yet the universe is an amazing and awe inspiring place. Believing in god would only lessen the true wonder of the universe for me.

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

      Finally, someone who gets it! Couldn't have said that better myself.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  8. scott bleyle

    God gave humans free will and the potential to govern their own destiny.Life is what happens when we are busy planning other things.Always tell the people nearest you that you love them for you or they may not be here tomorrow.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      God gave humans nothing, and they still have most of it left.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  9. rblock7

    The only God is the one man created 2500 years ago to explain what they did not understand. Those who still refuse to understand defend the existance of this mythical creature today and will tomorrow. Religion and God flew us into buildings while science and reason flew us to the moon.

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

      How does your 2500 year-old history explain dinosaur fossils, or the obvious and overwhelming evidence of things that happened even just slightly more than 2500 years ago, like the construction of the pyramids (approx. 3900 years old)?! Pure idiocy! Truly, the barbarians are at the gate, we should all be very afraid...

      July 24, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  10. chris

    Mabe it was god that jammed that clip! Mabe it wasn't decide for yourself!

    July 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  11. Patty

    God is always in control. We may not understand why but have to believe there is a reason. Evil is in the humans who let it take them over. Always pray God will be in control. Bless all who are suffering.

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

      If God is always in control then why do we have to pray that he be? It's fine that you are concerned for the suffering but what you say is a contradiction.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Patty

      ..."God is always in control. We may not understand why but have to believe there is a reason. Evil is in the humans who let it take them over. Always pray God will be in control. "

      So... if "God is 'always' in control" then... when he allows sh!t to happen, we go to the old..."God has his reasons that we don't understand" ?

      Yikes...

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • shack2

      @peace2all
      YIKKES!
      I'm with you.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  12. Chris Barnhart

    In 2010, my infant daughter died for no reason. Some of the first people at our side said "things happen for a reason" or "this was God's will" and I struggled to align with that concept. However, I also understand that nobody truly can understand God. At my daughter's funeral, I told my wife that I felt God did not stand against us in our sorrow, but stood beside us in our grief. We felt that God was comforting us in our loss; not delighting in a whim or fancy.

    If God is real, then I feel He must be terribly dissapointed in mankind. He gave us the rule book (the Ten Commandments) and basically advised that the score will be settled on Judgement Day. God never promised to intervene every time something went wrong, but He did say that each of us will be called and held accountable for our actions on Judgement Day.

    There's no way I can walk up to someone's whose friend or family member was just killed in that movie theater and say "rest easy, it's God's will!" At that moment, I would want to do my best to assure them that God weeps with us in these moments. He surely shakes his head at what we've done with our gifts. I am certain of it; God stands with us when bad things happen, but isn't the one to intervene at every turn.

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

      Well Said.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Ahhhhh.... no. God never said anything, wrote anything, or spoke to anyone. The bible was written by men to subjugate the weak and fearful. Trust me... I'm the devil.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  13. † God with Us †

    God exists. Otherwise there wouldn't be any universe.

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

      Oh? How do you come to that conclusion?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      Yet another infantile argument from a Christian... Do you people have anything else??

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

      I'm a Christian and this is the most stupid remark I've seen yet.

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

      Equally meaningless statement: "I exist, otherwise there wouldn't be any universe."

      July 24, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  14. Jim lynch

    God was there, that is how the gun jammed. No man or women should blame God for mans decisions. We as humans have no respect for human life, just look at the world, if we really did care we would not be killing each other off as easily as we do. Has anyone payed attention how many people have died in Chicago this year..

    July 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Kevin Barbieux

      If God was truly there, he would have jammed the gun before the first bullet was shot. Or was god just late because of traffic?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      So god was there, and he jammed the gun the Joker was using. Of course, he couldn't have jammed the gun before psycho boy began shooting, he waited till many people were killed or injured. Hell of a guy your god is.

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

      I agree that God was there and that's why the gun jammed; just like when there is a car accident, sometimes people die. When it's our time to be with God, it's our time. God knows our destiny before we are ever conceived. Have you read the story about the young lady who survived the shooting after being shot in the head? The bullet that is still in her head just "haapened" to travel in a path that was a "birth defect" that she didn't even know she had which is why she is still alive. I don't believe it was a birth defect and a coincidence, I believe God intentionally put it there because He already knew what was going to happen to her on that day and His plan was for her to survive. Maybe for her to help open the eyes of non-believers like yourselves??? Who knows??? What I do know is that there's no sense in me trying to explain any of it in this post because it's very obvious that you have never known God, and I feel sad for you, but obviously God is still giving you a chance. I hope that one day you will give Him a chance. He believes in you whether you believe in Him or not.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  15. permafrost

    obviously God doesn't exist. that's the only rational explanation.
    why bother with all these ridiculous logical gymnastics ?

    July 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  16. † God with Us †

    Christianity is the only truly religion; all others are pegan.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The brain trust shows up early tonight.

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

      There are no "true" religions. THey are all made up fairytales. Quit lying to your kids.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Johnny P

      I love how you're living the Christian message of love and respect toward each other...

      July 24, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Do you really think your doing yourself a favor with all your god brown-nosing? I bet you do. You close your mind and open your mouth only to kiss the dude of dudes holy sphincter. I'm gonna set you on fire. Nothing personal... its what I do, so help me god.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  17. Samona Votaw

    Here's the thing about God... He gives us freedom. The bummer is that we can choose good or bad. What if he didn't let us choose anything? Could we love him then? Wouldn't we be just robots running around? Wonder what my kids would think of me if I didn't give them any freedom...

    July 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Sooo...if I have freedom, then do I need a God?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Samona Votaw

      I'm not sure what you need, but I know it's your choice!!! Depends on what you want!

      July 24, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  18. Johnny P

    If we had all the answers about God, there would be no need for faith.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Allow me to truncate ..."no need for faith". There, that's better.

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

      @exlonghorn- Whatever, dude. I keep the faith.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  19. briansullymd

    I'm not particularly religious, but it seems pretty obvious to me. If God exists, and if his realm exists as an afterlife, then why does everyone think that getting killed is so bad ? After all, doesn't most religion say that life with God is paradise ? And no serious religion out there really claims that God is actually looking out for people on earth in even minor things – people die, get sick, get hurt all the time, seemingly without reason or rationality – clearly Earth is left to run as it will, and the only hope that God provides is for what comes next.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  20. † In God We Trust †

    Thank God all the time.

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

      Why? There's no logical reason to do so.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:07 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.