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. Jim

    This is getting really old...there is no god. Just like the tooth fairy, santa claus and my imaginery friend...god is a figment of imagination and needs to be dropped.

    I get it..."learn the good lessons"..."be a good person"..."do unto others...". Yeah, yeah...

    Just get rid of the false idols...

    July 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  2. SPD

    This is made complicated by the popular but very unchristian teaching that goes on in so many christian churches where the devout routinely concede that what ever happens is "the will of God." That may be comforting in some way, but it isn't Biblical.

    The Bible teaches that God intended the world to be a certain way and sin messed it all up. So, the world we see around is is a mixture, an often incomprehensible mixture, of God's plan for the world, and the evil sin has wrought. To say that anything around us is God's will is to either deny the presence of sin and the way it upsets God's plan (a fundamental feature of any Biblical theology) or to claim special ability to discern God's pln and will from the chaos of sin (an alleged skill we are warned to doubt.)

    The world is a mixture of the remnants of God's will, still alive in and around us, and the damage done to the world and us by sin. I would never claim to be able to sort one from the other, but there are times I think I can see a very clear flicker of God's creation in the world, and other times I think I see the dark imprint of sin all too clearly. I could be wrong, but I think I see both of those in Aurora, one in the act of shooting itself, and the other in the aftermath, the the way people helped and protected each other, and in the way we all survive and recover.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  3. MJ Taylor

    I don't know about god, but to the pro-gun lobby it's a god given right to be able to purchase guns which were clearly there in CO.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  4. Kevin

    God is not a mystery since he is an invention of man. The real mystery is man. The sooner we learn to look within ourselves for salvation, the sooner we can put an end to the Virginia Techs and Fort Hoods and Columbines and Auroras.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  5. palintwit

    In no time at all the police will find a copy of Sarah Palin's "crosshairs' poster in the shooter's apartment. Proving once again the negative influence she has with gun loving nut cases like John Holmes and that creep in Arizona.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  6. Al

    The reason "god" allows these things is for the same reason super man allows these things.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  7. Steve Black

    God died with every one who was killed and was wounded with everyone who was hurt.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  8. HenryMiller

    Where was God in Aurora massacre?

    Hanging out with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, of course.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Know Nothing

      Since you know that you must to be a fairy too. Congrats!

      July 25, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  9. Richard O'Brien

    Religious folks are so funny. They create a fictional character then ponder why the fictional character did or did not do something. I hope that they find this ridiculous exercise entertaining. I know I do.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • YBP

      It would be even funnier if they'd stop trying to take over our government and convert everyone.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • HA!

      Since I don't know you, you must be a fictional character too.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  10. John Smith

    Why is a Creator obligated to prevent tragedy in order to prove His existence? Why would anyone predicate a belief in God on whether or not that God bestows gifts and good fortune on them? This seems like a terribly immature and unenlightened mindset.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  11. chuck

    God has nothing to do with this. It was someone acting in free will simple as that, to that moron pastor up there or to the westboro baptist church they truly don't understand god

    July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  12. BobZemko

    I found Jesus !! He was behind the sofa the whole time !!

    July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  13. Scott Saved By Grace

    A truly loving God offers the gift of free will, including the free will to hurt others. But as God must allow some suffering to occur, He also offers hope, healing and forgiveness that endures. Beauty from ashes.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  14. DontBeAfraid

    he wanted to stay to see the end of the movie...

    July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  15. Harleyxx

    This is nothing compared to the holocaust. People really need to get the proper perspective of this minor event.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Kevin

      Well, then here is a question that was asked at least six million times: where was God during the holocaust?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • JazzDawg

      You're as sick as the shooter. You could not possibly have any empathy for mankind . Your god requires the same thing James Eagan Holmes wanted. He thought it was the appropriate to kill as many as he could. Crazy sick people like you and Holmes should be locked up away from society. Lets put god behind bars while we are at it.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  16. LOrtiz

    Leo Tolstoy's insight in, "Where Love is, God is" shares, "...We cannot judge God's ways. Not our reasoning, but God's will, decides. If God willed that your son should die and you should live, it must be best so. As to your despair - that comes because you wish to live for your own happiness. "What else should one live for?' asked Martin.'For God, Martin,' said the old man. 'He gives you life, and you must live for Him. When you have learned to live for Him, you will grieve no more, and all will seem easy to you.'

    July 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  17. Flex

    This is Satan's world, it will be God's world when His son Jesus comes back, what a foolish question heard repeatedly.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • chuck

      looks like a village is missing an idiot

      July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  18. Brad

    We'll have plenty of time to debate the existence of God after we die. Today is for taking responsibility for our lives and our choices.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Matthew

      You will only be judged by Jesus or God when you die. There will be no more time for debating. Just heaven or hell. If you repent , it will be heaven for you. If not, it will be hell.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  19. Jim McGuire

    God is the silly putty used by early man to fill in the gaps of his knowledge of the world around him.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • URgod not there


      July 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  20. Billy Shears

    The tragedy in Aurora was NOT the work of Our Lord. It was the work of the ANTI-CHRIST.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:33 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.