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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. Satan

    God, what god????

    July 24, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      The One before whom you will bow your knee and confess that He is LORD of all!

      July 24, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      PRISM 1234,

      Yes, that does sound exactly like what your Satan character would say!

      July 24, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Joe

      Whats wrong with you? God ! what a moron

      July 24, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • k kim

      You believe you are God – in your own mind.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  2. Answer

    I'll help you religious fools to figure things out...

    The very people who are telling you what is wrong with the world and teaching you how to hate it and putting this fear into your mind are the cause of the world's problem. This has always been how a religious idiot is influenced to act according to those who control you.

    Tell them who to hate. Tell them who is to be blamed. Tell them then, to turn over their lives, over to a delusion and funnel money to themselves.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  3. darquarious

    Where was God last week in Chicago where dozens of black males shot and killed more people than were killed in the Colorado movie theatre?
    Or the week before in Chicago when dozens of black males shot people?
    Where was God when college girls Lauren Burk and Eve Carson were abducted and killed by black males?

    Where was God when the black male ambushed and killed 4 white police officers in the Seattle coffee shop 2 years ago?

    Where was God during the Wichita Massacre? Where were you during it?

    Where was God on 9/11?

    God is everywhere, but He doesn't control any of us like puppets on a string.
    Neither does the Devil, although weak people can be controlled by the Devil, as we see all the time.

    My question to you is why do our judges and our court system keep turning loose back into society criminals who have proven to be violent thugs? Keep them locked up.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Are you wiling to pay higher taxes to build more prisons, hire more guards, erect more courthouses?

      July 24, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • ArthurP

      Well since there is no such thing as Evolution the he must be too busy diddling with all manner of DNA to create birth defects.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Rick James

      So if God doesn't control us, why do some pray to him? And why does the devil have more influence in our world then God does, even with the whole Jesus thing? How does that make any sense?

      July 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • thedindim

      If one were to take your post to the letter, one would think blacks are the only people to ever commit any type of crimes – violent or otherwise. You're proving no point other than the fact that you're racially motivated. Violence has nothing to do with black, white, brown, etc. It's a human fact, not a racial characteristic.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Jarod

      He was probably at the same place where white men drug a black through the streets or Neo Nazis killed some guy because he was gay, or when all those white people were hanging blacks in trees or even today when those white interviewers, who happen to think just like you, wouldnt hire minorities and sent them packing because of prejudice. The answer, "God was there protecting each innocent soul that both you and I mentioned in our rants." They are in a better place and while we're left in this hell hole until we figure it out...

      July 25, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  4. ArthurP

    someone

    OK so he had a plan that Y would have children and Y's children would have children etc so along comes X and kills Y what happens to all those souls that God had planed out ?

    July 24, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  5. Boxa

    The question should be "where was Batman?"

    July 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Rick James

      Now that's a good question. He was probably saving Gotham from utter destruction.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Joe

      with Robin, fool

      July 24, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  6. Marine57

    God was right there through the whole crisis.
    That this great evil happened was not His will, but He allowed this tragedy for cause.
    That cause was to allow the evil of that shooter to ascend to its maximum that he might be punished to the maximum.
    God will bless those who suffered with blessings equal to their suffering.
    That cause was also to destroy the gods of man – pleasure, fun, excitement, freedom from rule etc. – for He alone is worthy to be the God and loving heavenly Father of that man which He created and freely gave them of the breath of His own life.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • ArthurP

      You see that is were I am a better person than God because I would have done my utmost to stop it not sit back and let it play itself out. We have a word for that 'cowardice'.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  7. RemusChubbs

    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 10:32 pm |
  8. Joanna

    God created us in His own image but He gave free will. When we choose to turn away from God's word and choose to follow our own desires we are turning to sin. God did not give that poor soul a gun and He did not tell him to go and shoot His children. God is about Love, forgiveness, kindness, and mercy. We can not start blaming God for someone else decision. I personally believe that reason the man committed this crime was because he did not follow God. He had no direction in his life. The man may have been smart but not smart enough to know God and to turn to God in his darkness hour.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Rick James

      He was Christian. Sorry, but knowing God was, and is, pointless.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It is very likely that Holmes is mentally ill. Turning to god wouldn't have made any difference. He needs medication and treatment.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • ArthurP

      So he made man in his image. Well that explains why we are all a bunch of murdering sob's.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Joe

      You think Holmes is a little deviant?

      July 24, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  9. Samie

    after man sinned God cursed the world and said in sorrow you shall reap and till the land. also the sin of adam gave the devil a control over man and also made the earth his because when Jesus was being tempted he said all this i i will give you because it was handed down to me... plus you can't forget that God isn't responsible for our choices but can only forgive them and avenge those who were done wrong. but instead just realize that humans are heartless beasts who give for no one but themselves and do everything to their own pleasure without realizing who's getting hurt in the process, hearing this makes me ashamed to even be one

    July 24, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Rick James

      Reading what you just wrote makes me ashamed to be one, too.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Anon

      Then why be one? No ones stopping you. It's all a made up farce by primitive and bigoted desert men.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  10. TC

    God is the divine watchmaker. He made the watch, which is the world, and set the hands in motion, and let it be. God does not intervene in the world today. The Deist.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      And do you worship this god?

      July 24, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @TC

      Pure 'deism' at it's best.

      Just another *belief* system.

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Anon

      Deists are basically wishful thinking deity beggars. Pay no heed towards them.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • TC

      @hawaii. No, I do not worship this "God." Nothing can be created out of nothing. Therefore, something created the world, and this I call "God." It does not mean "God" is all powerful, all knowing, or all good....or should be worshipped. Yes, it is just a belief system. It's no better or worse than any other. To each their own....I can use philosophy and reason to get to the same conclusions as is reached in the 10 commandments. Live a good life, be a good person, make good decisions, and help others. I don't care what methodology anyone uses to get to this endstate.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • PC314

      so that must mean you don't pray. after all what is the reason to pray if the watchmaker just wound it up and let it go ......personally i don't believe in a deity, but atleast your argument is consistent,,,,assuming you don't expect an answer from the watchmaker.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @TC

      Oh I was just wondering what it was you believe, not saying anything about the belief.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • TC

      @ PC314 : I don't pray, nor would I expect an answer.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  11. Alex

    God loves us and wants His very best for us. He created man in His image which imbued man with the freedom to choose good over evil or visa versa. We are neither robots nor puppets. Unfortunately our freedom includes the freedom of James Holmes to walk into a theater and kill and/or maim 71 people. In my experience God may or may not help us solve our problems. Usually if they are problems of our own making, I tend to see Him let us work them out for ourselves. We as a society choose the right to bear arms even though that right comes with allowing people like Holmes to put them to an evil purpose. That's our choice.

    Where was God? I suspect He wept for those who experienced loss and was saddened by the outcome of some of the decisions His children made. Perhaps He was even angry at the people who made decisions but didn't end up living out the downside of those decisions. I know he was there to comfort those who mourn and extend grace to those who extended grace to others.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Joanna

      Thank you for not blaming God for this man mistake . God is mourning for the children that died on the horrible day. Yes He is comforting the ones who have lost a love one. I pray for the families that are suffering because of someone careless act for humanity.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  12. Cormac Brian

    It is amazing how free and dignified God has made us, free enough to deny him and to destroy his creation. If we were not so free our dignity would be less. it is our freedom that allows us to do both great works of valor and courage, and terrible works of destruction such as Aurora. Who could believe probably the most culturally and intellectually advanced nation on the earth could produce the holocaust? Who could believe that individual US soldiers on mission overseas could be guilty of human rights violations such as Abu Ghraib? At the same time we hear of the great forgiveness shown by Amish leaders after shooting in West Nickel Mines School in 2006. Amazingly Gage Hankins and his family who experienced the shooting in Aurora have forgiven the gunman, James Holmes, saying he needs help. Human nature is amazing both in its cruelty and in its magnanimity – all coming from this amazing free will. We should not tempt fate. As Bloomberg says both political candidates for President need to address the gun law situation. God is in the compassion of those who bravely face the world and teach us the the path of wisdom and forgiveness.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • oakhill

      Beautifully said.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  13. Kalan

    Thanks to Helpful Hints, I got rid of the word Ti+tle. hope it'll go thru.
    The " Where was God" topic is truly offensive to a Christian like me. I'll explain. If this piece is written to generate buzz and traffic for CNN, then that's another sorry aspect. If the author of this editorial has lost someone in this incidence or had similar experiences in the past, then I can understand the emotional response. However, it was not mentioned that the author(s) are immediately affected. The power of reflecting the sentiment of the public is with the press, however, failure to consider the ramifications is the sad thing. The reason: A mature follower of Christ would either not even have this question, or immediately find the bible and the verses about tribulations will be seen. The question sets in on some, and due to the power of representation of the press, it makes some question even more (jumping on bandwagon), only makes the doubtful less confident.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Anon

      I'm hopeful your religion joins soon the ranks of mythology AKA dead religion.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • oakhill

      Wow Anon – that was a typical comment representative of someone who has chosen not to reflect very deeply on the matter.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • PC314

      I find it rather typical of a christian to not want their beliefs questioned, or even discuss the issue of potential problems with their religion. Just believe, right? It must be nice to follow the rules: 1. christianity is never wrong, 2. if christianity is proven wrong or questioned, see rule 1.
      If christianity is in fact not wrong, why not allow for discussion about it?

      July 24, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Kalan

      I worried about my writing making someone missing the point. Awesome that you pointed it out:
      Questions, discussions, conversations about Christianity are wonderful, I love em all. However, this editorial is putting the question in a context, and that context, sadly reflects the majority sentiment right now, is that if God is just and fair, then why allow such tragic incident to happen. I am not here to answer that question. However, I do want to say that it is even pessimistic for atheists, it just got that tone in it I can't explain.Coming from CNN religious editorial? It did not lift up the victim or the family. I'm sort of expecting a stand.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  14. No Truth, Just Claims

    Aurora, Illinois

    July 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  15. Anon

    Here's the problem. Too many Suzie minded people.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM5n8jESUEk

    July 24, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Kalan

      What does Suzie do? Don't tell me she sits, sleeps, eats and goes to church. Looks like some aspect of the video is saying that Christians do nothing but pray. How many scientists are Christians? how many military servicemen and women are Christians? Anyways, this video, nice tricks, but that's all it is.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Anon

      According to that big book of mythology called the bible, everything is possible with prayer. Like walk up walls, grow amputated legs, etc.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  16. LOL@"WhereWasGod"

    God was in the same place he has always been.....

    ...a figment of certain people's imagination.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  17. Mike

    Where was God you ask??? http://mikec16.blogspot.com/2011/03/ever-asked-yourself-where-is-god-when.html

    July 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Answer

      Wow .. you created a blog.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  18. Salero21

    Drought over 60% of the territory, forest fires, crime, violence, diseases, epidemics, economy on the edge of collapse, wars, enemies to the left and to the right, you name it. More to come.

    One Nation under God's Judgment.

    God is where he has always been and where he will always be all of Eternity, in Heaven.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Answer

      HAHAHAHA.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Anon

      It's a pity you idiots don't realize the stupidity of your precious desert myths.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Answer

      Do you religious retards also fear getting up in the morning? LOL

      It's because of idiots that believe in religion that they waste our precious earth and create these dramatic climate changes.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Yeah

      So it really is God's fault! Okay. That fits.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Rick James

      With posts like this, I can't wait until 2050.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Salero21

      More to come! A la carte!

      July 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Anon

      Answer: Sadly my own parents think like that. Religious brainwashing can really screw you up for life.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Salero21

      "One nation under God's Judgement"

      So.. all these atrocities are God's punishment...?

      Real nice belief system ya' got there.

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Salero21

      Ecc. 7:6 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Salero, what are you smoking? Do you think this is the first time there have been natural disasters, economic woes, and crime? Read some history, bub.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Salero21,

      Yeah, if you can't convince them with facts, call them fools!

      That's one thing that even the old Middle Eastern Hebrews figured out.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Answer

      @Anon

      I have always laughed at the religious and everyday is entertainment. Sorry to hear that your parents were that much of a pain in doing that indoctrination stuff.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Salero21

      Isa. 48:22 "There is no peace," says the LORD, "for the wicked."

      July 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Salero21

      Mal. 4:1 "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's obvious you relish the idea that anyone who disagrees with your premise will burn. Pretty sadistic of you and your god.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Answer

      The lord? HAHAHA

      Again you can continue to make me laugh. Please stay for a lot longer than your usual religious retards and entertain me.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Salero21

      Oba 1:4 Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down," declares the LORD.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Salero21

      Ps. 53:1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Answer

      Don't forget all the other scripture quotes.. if you turn to the next page "Chad has John 3:16" already.

      You fool religious idiots should coordinate your junk. XD

      July 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Salero21

      Ob. 1:15 "The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Salero21,

      More blather from ancient Middle Eastern Hebrews!? I'll bet that you wouldn't buy a used car from one of them if you ran across them today.

      Hint: There is not a shred of verified evidence for the supernatural beings and events in their old stories.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • Salero21

      Hab. 2:8 Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed man's blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  19. Citymom44

    Where was God?? Why is God always blamed? Has no one heard of Satan and his demons? Satan had a hand in this, Earth is Satan's realm. God is a spiritual being – you are free to believe in him or not. However, everyone should now realize that Satan exists. The history of men killing men should be proof of that. Satan helped the killer in Colorado to do his work. Where was God? He helped the countless others to survive and escape. The 12 that died were killed by James Holmes. It is tragic and horrific for the families of the victims to suffer – they have James Holmes and Satan to blame, not God.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Colin

      you r a fvcking simpleton. Please die young.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • ArthurP

      So the Earth and all that happens here is the Devils realm. Ergo the Bible being of the Earth realm is then a product of the Devil. Well that explains a lot.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Citymom44

      Some 'God' ya' got there who can't even defeat one of his own creations, ...satan.

      Peace...

      July 24, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • setnoescapeon

      Who created Satan?

      July 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  20. jayjay

    They say it could have been worse. He had an assault rifle with a drum magazine and it jammed. Maybe that was god maybe it was luck. It all comes down to what you believe. Let people believe what they want.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Anon

      Too bad the faithful spread this mind virus like wild fire.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Well, Beta magazines have a reputation for jamming, so apparently God's been planning that little intervention for quite some time now.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
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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.