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. Bill

    Where was GOD? In your imagination. The Boble is the greatest read Fiction Book ever published. If a GOD truly did exist do you think that he would allow these people to have died? Some of the mmen who lost their lives during this incursion, took a bullet for their girl friends, did god want this to happen? It is plain and simple that these men loved these women. Why did GOD let them die?
    Give me some peaceful time in the forest and take your GOD and shove him or her in what ever body oriface you care too. Does God exsist? NO!

    July 24, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • sean

      Wow. You are an angry little guy. Faith would help you through this time. Just saying.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Mike

      why most atheist sound so hateful?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Mike, you're confusing hate with incredulous frustration.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  2. Islam is the best


    July 24, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Bill

      No western religion produces as many radical idots as Islam. I'm a Wiccan when was the last time you heard of a Pagen pulling this type of crap. " I went into this Islamic clothing store I asked where the new lamb skin bomber jackets were... they asked me if I really needed 72 virgins as they were running short."

      July 24, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  3. John Mattson

    If there is a God, and he made us as many people seem to think. Why didn't he make us smarter and less evil? Or is this just an ugly experiment?

    July 24, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  4. Thestudent

    Where was God in Aurora massacre?
    He's watching with full attention on how people exercised what He has given: the freedom, the common sense, the chances, the resources, the right to pray–you name it, and, have His angels recorded all their actions and reactions, in His Eternal Bible. (Revelation 20:12 "And I (John) saw the dead, small and great, standing before God and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.").

    I found sometimes He interferes, as an answer to prayer, or as He in His Wisdom chose to do. At another times He merely allows. The records in these books will serve as a continual reminder of what had happened when people use their freedom according to His Will, or against His Will and Wisdom.

    Aurora, Oklahoma, Hiroshima, Auschwitz, Russia, Cambodia, Iraq, the civil war– they all are painful. They drew a lot of attention because of the scale. No doubt it's a shock. Individually though, every unexpected loss of life is no less painful, even if they are not in the news. These pain, bring a lesson to us who are still alive. Sadly, some will learn the wrong way to their own peril and bitterness. Blaming God and concluding that God does not exist is too easy, too shallow. Hopefully, we will think deeper, learn the right way and thereby would lead to become a better person.

    Now, when the book of my life be opened, I would like my story to be read as one that was able to turn most pain (if not all) into gain. A story that bring tears of proud, love and joy to my parents, families and friends,and– of course honoring my Jesus, who first allows His life to be brutally taken to give me a new life.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  5. Aris

    Everything that happens in the world is God's will. He is sovereign over all the earth, the universe. He let things happen for a reason, a reason that goes far beyond our thoughts and understanding. All that had happened is just. There is no injustice in God.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  6. Jason

    John 9:2-3 (King James Version)
    And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • Erik B.

      those are some 'works'!

      July 24, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  7. Remus Chubbs

    God ordained that this would take place. The reason that this tension between free will and God's will exists is because there is no free will. If God is allpowerful, then he HAS to have ordained every event that ever happens. The reason we get so disillusioned is because we think it's about us.
    The entire creation was created in order to give glory to God. Every event gives glory to God. Maybe it comes from the grace he gives those that he calls from himself. Maybe it comes from the justice of punishing those that he calls to live in disobedience against him. The horror of this fallen world only stands as a contrast to the glorious reality that is to come.
    If that point makes you say "well I don't want to serve a God like that," then you're still missing the point.
    It was never about you (or me) to begin with.

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

      Right on point man. Thumbs up.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  8. mikewimberly

    You're showing a mighty bit of ignorance about God by asking "where was he" during the event at Aurora. If you think He's going to interfere with meager human efforts and bad decisions, boy, do you have the wrong concept of how He operates. God is in the hearts of men and women, and if they choose to go off on a wrong path, such as visiting violence on his fellow man, then that was the result of a human decision. God's NOT there to keep us from making mistakes, even highly tragic ones. We all have to live with the consequences of our actions, good or bad.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  9. Islam is the best

    Islam took over half of Europe and will spread quickly in North America insallah one day.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  10. Atheist = Thinker

    Yes... And look how much murder, hatred, r_ape and suffering there is in the world... Coincidence?? No way.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Islam is the best

      Allah does not like bad stuff. Allah is great for everyone.

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

      I can grant you that there are all does things are happening in the world but we can still see more good than evil. Also if there is no God I don't think it makes sense to call it evil. I don't know on what bases can atheist do it.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      "Also if there is no God I don't think it makes sense to call it evil. I don't know on what bases can atheist do it."

      You're implying that you have to be a 'believer' to understand what evil is... That's ridiculous. Atheists have the brainpower to understand evil, and 'believers' are most often the ones who spread it.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  11. Islam is the best

    Allah exists. It says on the Quran!

    July 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  12. Islam is the best

    Islam means peace. Muhammed is Allah's last Prophet (PBUH)

    Ramadan Mubarak!

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

      All terrorists are muslims, so go figure that out about the peace that you are talking about.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  13. Karen

    i think that this article was just written to incite a debate that will never have any resolution b/c you're not going to argue me into not believing in God and vice-versa. for ppl who don't believe in God why are you always asking where He is and not where buddha, muhammed, or any other religious deities are? ppl always want to talk about God's love but never his wrath. smh at this world we live in!

    July 24, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  14. Rev. Patrick

    6.1 / 7 billion people believe in God.

    So who must be right? 🙂 Think.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Eh...I think you mean those ppl have some form of faith. There are not that many Christians on the Earth.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      So when all of humanity thought the earth was stationary, they were right?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • Atheist = Thinker

      And the vast majority of those people don't believe in Jesus... Great example...

      July 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  15. Frankie

    God = Goodness. The goodness is shown by caring people in their responses to tragedy. SIN/EVIL = Sinister/CNN (LIVE backward) that provokes this obsession with belief that there is no God, that all that matters is making headlines and money and taking advantage of people's tragedies to get on camera and say, "Hey, look at me. I'm a self-absorbed liberal who thrives on public attention and mockery of anything of value, care, or moral compass."

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

      Here is a theory: God is not god. He is evil. Man is good and our evil creator is torturing us for his own sadistic reasons. Create man and then taunt and torture them. Or, in the alternative, there is no god. There never was. Atheism=logic+facts.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  16. Rev. Patrick

    I'm happy to teach the holy Bible to everyone at my church here in New York City if you live local.

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

      Or you can simply let them go out and be productive members of society, and YOU can go do good works and help others instead of imploring, guilting, and fleecing others into doing so.

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

      I took classes in logic and science in college. They answered all my questions. It debunked all of the lies from my catholic childhood. I'm sick of this poorly written "bible" being used to teach "facts". Atheism=logic+reason

      July 24, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  17. May

    People like to believe that people are "basically good at heart". However, what are the things we have to teach our children? Do we have to teach them to have a tantrum? No, we have to teach self-control. Do we have to teach them to lie? No, that comes naturally. We must teach them honesty. Do we need to teach selfishness? No, it comes naturally. We must teach sharing. Do we have to teach hate? Again, it comes naturally. We have to teach how to love. The point is, though we don't like to admit it, we are born with sinful natures. Sinful natures want to go their own selfish way, not God's way. God has already demonstrated His love for ALL people by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die in our place. He took the punishment that should be ours. If we accept this gift of love, we are justified and righteous in God's eyes. And we begin to live our lives in response to the unconditional love God has already shown us. But if we refuse God's love, we continue to live for ourselves, feeding our sinful nature. Those who refuse God's undeserved gift of love and forgiveness will receive God's wrath at death. There is a spiritual battle going on that most of us are unaware of, but it is very real. Life on this earth is not always the way we want it to be. But there is so much more than just this life on earth. Each of us can enjoy a relationship with God beginning here and now or we can choose to go our own way. Whichever choice we make, it will impact other people for good or for bad.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  18. Boney

    You people are astonishingly stupid. How can you believe such nonsense? I just don't get it.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  19. Christi

    God is everywhere. However, evil will happen is this world. Once sin entered in the picture that allowed evil acts, i.e. Cain and Abel. Freewill allows choice. Some choose good. Others do not.

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

      Or is God really nowhere? That's certainly the simpler explanation.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  20. Thomas

    Good and bad things happen in life. They are NOT under the direction of an imaginary supernatural being. What happened simply happened and the responsibility for it lies with man.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:10 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.