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. If you want to understand the true absurdity of this, just ask yourself . . .

    Where was Poseidon in the Aurora massacre?

    July 24, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  2. TOMG


    July 24, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Rick James

      LOL you must have failed 7th grade.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  3. AncientLie

    The time for belief is when there is evidence for the claim. Same reason I don't believe in fairies, unicorns, or yes, any God(s). Too many of us believe in unsubstantiated claims. He doesn't exist, that's why he wasn't there!

    July 24, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  4. EX. atheist

    atheists are piece of sh.it and should be put in jail

    July 24, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Rick James

      That's the only way you could put us in jail. The religious are way better at going to jail, for some reason...

      July 24, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Anon

      You probably suffered brain damage in order to be an "ex-atheist".

      July 24, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  5. TOMG


    July 24, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  6. EX. atheist

    60% of the world believe in Jesus

    July 24, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Anon

      You're all screwed up in the head, no exceptions.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Rick James

      No wonder this world is awful right now

      July 24, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Russ

      @ ex-atheist: as a Christian myself, that's a misleading stat. I'm assuming you're not talking about people who claim faith in Jesus, but rather Muslims, etc., who believe Jesus existed but was not God. of even the 2 billion (out of 7) that supposedly claim faith in Jesus, even Jesus said "Not everyone who says 'Lord, Lord' will be saved." (Mt.7:21)

      July 24, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      And 99% of the world used to believe the world is flat. What's your point? Most of them learned, why can't you?

      July 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  7. Anon

    A) Nowhere, because there is no God and never was. B) God is a apathetic piece of $#it.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  8. Rick James

    He was probably out to lunch.

    But seriously though, he was probably where he always was- nowhere.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Russ

      Seriously, I can't see your handle without hearing "Superfreak" in my mind.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Rick James

      That's where I got the idea for the handle. He was a true American bada.ss.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Peace2All


      LOL... I thought it was just me ! 😀


      July 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Rick James

      Peace. May the FSM touch you with his noodly appendage all the days of your life.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Rick "Superfreak" James

      Ramen, brother ! 😀


      July 25, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  9. TOMG


    July 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  10. EX. atheist

    atheists are the ones' who will loose

    July 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Rick James

      "Loose"? Loose shoe strings? What the hell do you mean?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  11. TOMG


    July 24, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  12. Colin

    A few questions should help shed light on the relationship between religion and rational thought.

    The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the field of:

    (a) Children’s fairytales;

    (b) Medieval mythology;

    (c) New age pseudo science; or

    (d) Christianity

    I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Christian

    Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    I believe that an all powerful being, capable of creating the entire cosmos watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty". I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions

    (d) A Christian

    You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are a:

    (a) historian;

    (b) geologist;

    (c) NASA astronomer; or

    (d) Christian

    I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am

    (a) A failed psychologist

    (b) A fraudulent geneticist

    (c) A sociologist who never went to college; or

    (d) A Christian with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.

    The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:

    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they must believe under threat of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “there is one god comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas religion is regional and a person’s religious conviction, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than an accident of birth; or

    (d) All of the above.

    If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      This is simply awesome, Colin. You're my new god. 🙂

      July 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Peace2All


      What's up dude ? 😀


      July 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • commentsguy

      you saved me so much typing. thanks. and to everyone else. d is the answer.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Colin

      Peace, dude, where U been?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Been working quite a bit, and needed to take some time off from the 'looney bin' belief blog for awhile.

      But, I have been slowly coming back on more and more.

      Great to see another one of your excellent 'Colinism's' !!! 😀

      Hope all is well, brother...


      July 24, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Colin

      Peace, thanks dude, good to see you back.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • noevidence


      July 24, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  13. TOMG


    July 24, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Freddo

      TOMG, buddy, your English is terrible and your thoughts are crazy! You are a disgrace to religion!

      Keep it up!

      July 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  14. Hannah

    the pastors or people who claim this was God's will can not Speak for God. We are not God's puppets. He has given us freedom to act as we will. That is a Divine gift...free agency. Sadly, this is the dark side of free agency... that we can use our own choices to hurt others. That's not God, that's the dark side of humans... we can act in goodness or act in pain and evil.
    Where was God in that theater that night??? I say God was not in the killer.. who made his own choices, but God was in the miraculous fact that somehow despite the kind of weaponry that killer used most people survived. That doesn't mean we don't mourn the loss.. or the tragedy. I find it miraculous that anyone walked out of that theater. To me that is amazing.. consdiering that 100s of rounds were being shot off... and at people. And he was smoking them out with gas to have more targets. We can't blame our atrocities on God. We create our own environment in this world.
    I see goodness in every single story where someone was trying to save someone else in that nightmare in theater 9...
    Goodness, heroism, self sacrifice... that's where I see God.
    I'm broken for my countrymen and women–my brothers and sisters, in Colorado... I cry with them. I pray for their comfort, though I can't fathom losing someone in this way... and I know it is real pain and loss they suffer as they lost their loved ones to evil.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • thousanddolla

      God is love. He loves us so much that he allows us free will although we do not deserve it. Because we have free will and basically are predisposed to sin, God allows us to screw up and gave us his Son to atone for and recognize our tremendous shortcomings and sin. Not one of us is worthy. He tried to see if we could do it on our own many times. Many tests and opportunities were provided and we failed many times – 100% to be exact. Jesus Christ was the solution. We are influenced to tremendous evil like mass shootings by Satan who is trying to replace God and influence us to sin to gain negative power-mojo-evil influence. God does not intervene but will attempt everything He can to use tragedy for his good purposes, to build the kingdom. While we keep screwing up, God is building the kingdom and Satan tries to break it down due to his desire to be God. Questioning 'where is God?' is very sad to me because it gives Satan the power from the tragedy that God had a chance to build on to patch up our crap to the best of His ability. We don't even realize the chance for good purposes has been negated to Satan's benefit, fueling the power of evil. It negates and can deconstruct God’s opportunity to build love, the power He and we as humans need and thrive on. When God determines it is time, that he has touched everyone he can, using His tremendous mercy, grace and patience, and He sees we have fully worked out our selfish and sinful ways to the point the world is lost, JC will be by to start over. To erase the whiteboard. Some will be with Him or will meet Him after the dust settles. Some will be down below. If you have further questions on details, you can ask God yourself. A pass-ticket-membership card to meet him is beyond easy to obtain. Pretty simple. I am asking God to forgive me for this but He appreciates my effort when I say to you who ask where God is: Please don't ask cause you don't get it. But keep tryin’ and you will some day! BTW I know nothing except I do know not to ask: Where is God?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Anon

      You're both screwed up in the head.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  15. jkk


    July 24, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Religion


      July 24, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Dencle McDonald

      The question is, where was God before we deemed it necessary that he shows up, in Aurora or other places of human pain and misery? From God's perspective – might he be saying, you clearly indicated that you have it all under control, that you don't need me or my intervention so until then, until you call, if you choose to, I will painfully watch from a distance still hoping you will call. Those who know my words and trust in me know that at the end of this transition called earthly living I will be patiently waiting to escort you to your/my home. I's beautiful there!

      July 24, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  16. TOMG


    July 24, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  17. Carol Shan

    1) God exists 2) God does have love however his love may be able to solve a lot problem, yet not every single problem. 3) God has plan for everyone which is called fate. He does not care that much at the individual level, nor his plans are fair. Sorry Christians, this is the reality check. Look around the world you will see what I mean. 4) God allows suffering so that people who witness it or survive the pain could appreciate more and love more. It is the hard way that leave imprints.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • ArthurP

      That is why he likes to see little children suffer.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Ann

      ArthurP, Death does not come from God. All good comes from God.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • ArthurP


      You have obviously never read the Bible God dispenses death left right an center. For example:

      "And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead." (Exodus 12:29-30)

      Actually come to think of it that sounds a lot like terrorism. Killing those with no power to influence those with power.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • hawaiiguest



      Isaiah 45: 7

      New International Version (©1984)
      I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.
      New Living Translation (©2007)
      I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.

      English Standard Version (©2001)
      I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.

      New American Standard Bible (©1995)
      The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.

      King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
      I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

      GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
      I make light and create darkness. I make blessings and create disasters. I, the LORD, do all these things.

      King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
      I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create calamity: I the LORD do all these things.

      American King James Version
      I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

      American Standard Version
      I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things.

      Douay-Rheims Bible
      I form the light, and create darkness, I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord that do all these things.

      Darby Bible Translation
      forming the light and creating darkness, making peace and creating evil: I, Jehovah, do all these things.

      English Revised Version
      I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I am the LORD, that doeth all these things.

      Webster's Bible Translation
      I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

      World English Bible
      I form the light, and create darkness. I make peace, and create calamity. I am Yahweh, who does all these things.

      Your bible contradicts your statement completely. Maybe you should learn your own religion.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Anon

      In other words Yahweh/Jesus/Jehovah is a psychopathic piece of $#it that deserves nothing but utter contempt and his followers should be ridiculed harshly for following that sociopath.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  18. TOMG


    July 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  19. Stan

    I'll consider the possibility that God intervenes in human affairs as soon as he heals an amputee.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Hannah

      Perhaps the healing He has to offer is something other than the sign we look for... the healing of the heart, the healing of a spirit, the healing of a troubled relationship... God works in His own ways...

      July 24, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Colin

      really Hannah, but why is it god only ever cures diseases the human body can recover from or that medical sciennce can cure. If I made a list of those diseases that god will "miraculously" cure and those he will not, I will bet you the lists would coincide exactly with those diseases the human body or medical science can defeat and those it cannot.

      Why do you think that is?

      July 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Anon

      Ram a bible up your @$$.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Well, I guess we will all be praying to a biologist and scientist in the near future.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Preston

      @Colin "but why is it god only ever cures diseases the human body can recover from or that medical sciennce can cure." Let's see that list of diseases God and medical science cure before we take your argument any further...

      July 24, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  20. sugarmomma1

    Who opened the gate? All the sheeple are running loose! There is no God or Gods or anything else. And if I was inclined to believe in a God, my God would be a whole lot nicer than the ones I've heard about. All this Godly fear and nail biting crap is getting old. And the world is no better for it either. Sad really.

    July 24, 2012 at 9:44 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.