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. Mark

    I agree with Chad. The bible does not avoid this issue at all. He entered into it and experienced it himself. He suffered a humiliating and painful death so that while we will suffer in this world for time, in the end, we can have an eternity with him. How it was intended to be. Our time on this world is but a fraction of eternity. His father for a time turned his back to him as he took on the unimaginable weight of all mankind's sin. The eternal dance of the trinity for a time...stopped. Anger towards God is normal. But just remember that he was wiling to experience it and is there with us through our suffering.

    Rom 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

    John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."


    July 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • Chad

      well said!
      waiting is tuff man...

      July 24, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • St. Paul

      Please stop quoting me, in your lame attempt at circular logic. Did you two know I came from Tarsus. It was a hotbed of Mithraism. I stuck all the Mithric stuff, (birth Dec 25, resurrection bla bla bla, onto the Jewish sect called the Way, and, what do ya know ... they swallowed it). Hahahaha.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  2. Uju

    No, the real question should be, where was the devil and his cohort...
    God has given man the power of choice, and free will.
    Many survivors have acknowledged, its God who enabled them to survive. Left to the devil, everyone in that theater would have died, and thank God, they didnt!!

    July 24, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Answer

      No gods and certainly no devils. Thanks for the laughs. XD

      July 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Why was "god" such a dumb-@$$ to "create" Lucifer, knowing full-well that he/it would become the "devil"?

      Why did "god" allow the "devil" to have free reign over the earth?

      Or some such crap?

      July 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • thousanddolla

      Uju, The devil and his cohort were raising a toast to a successful day. God shed a tear for our ignorance in asking where He was along with the responses of the lost who continue to argue about Him. They are picking up the happy hour tab. A double bonus for the evil mojo team.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • St. Paul

      Benjamin Libet, and Neuroscience have proven that free will is a fallacy. So sad. Get over it.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:05 am |
  3. TFitz13

    TomTom I hope you're out there because I wanted to give you props. You ask me why faith wasn't enough for me and why did I need to prove something I can't physically prove. Faith is enough for me. Good point. However I feel compelled to explain why I believe in God because I feel that I came to that realization in a logical manner. You may not believe it was logical but I do. Thanks for calling me out.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  4. Tom

    Does anyone else find it mildly amusing that under this... Blog, there's a news article that says priest get 3 to 6 years in jail...lol.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  5. Answer

    "We live in a fallen World"

    So the religious spiel goes on. Those that think this way – fear reality.

    They wholeheartedly WANT to bring the hell onto this reality just to satisfy the condition that they see. I love how people fear reality.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Answer

      Remember you religious fools –> Don't project your illusions onto this reality.

      This world is no longer your playground to bring your hate. We're civilized and beyond your ancient bs.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Mark

      Lol. What condition is it that you see? And why is it somehow a better interpretation of reality than the idea that the world is in a fallen state that it ought not to be in? I wonder how things like this shooting bother people if the world is in the state that it should be? If it is not in the state it should be, as most people seem to think when acts like this occur then that seems to be very consistent with the idea that the world is "fallen". Or not what things should be in other words. If u disagree with this conclusion, the what exactly is it about the shooting that bothers u?

      July 24, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  6. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    Isaiah 45:7
    "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, AND CREATE EVIL: I the LORD do all these things."

    Amos 3:6
    "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be EVIL in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?"

    July 24, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Mark

      You can't cherry pick verses Zeus without context. The Hebrew word for evil in that context is not being used as evil in the moral sense. Plus, if you're going to use verses to try an prove a point you musn't magically leave all the verses out that clearly show your lazy interpretation is just that....lazy.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Mark, why don't you read Amon IN CONTEXT and then tell us all what you think it means, chief? It AIN'T out of context......

      but then idiots like you tend to cherry pick and take everything else out of context like you want just to make your points.....avoiding all the conflicting tripe behind since it doesn't back up your ridiculous claims.

      Look in the mirror!

      July 24, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Mark

      Im still right Zeus. Not sure what u said to make me think otherwise. Why don't u just use your knockdown logical "you fvvcking retard" argument like u did with Chad. You seem very kind. Whatever your worldview is, I'm sure if we all acted like you do on this board, the world would be MUCH better off.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  7. one

    "God is Love and God never fails" stated by Truth Will Prevail is True. God is perfect. Man is imperfect.

    Thank you.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • Rick James


      July 24, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • St. Paul

      Good one. Heh heh.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  8. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    "god" wants death. "god" wants torture, murder, disease....everything evil you can imagine....because after all, "god" created evil.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  9. thousanddolla

    JITK may be crazy, may be stupid, or may be both. I am a sinner for judging and pointing this out. But JITK is an example of our human imperfections. Humans chase people from God since we are idiots and cannot even see it. Hence Christ. People and Satan together make a potent team in chasing people from the Lord. Unfortunately and at the same time fortunately, like the United States, the Lord welcomes all who choose to come. Should he be banned, yes. Do I have a right to say so, yes. Would God feel that way, probably not even though he is turning those who might seek farther away.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  10. Jesus is not god

    With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. – Steven Weinberg

    July 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • rickb57

      Well put by a Jew. Some of us believe otherwise. But he did not save his own son from the cross. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • rickb57

      Be you a Christian or a Jew and obviously you are a Jew, its only correct to spell God with a capital G,.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Name*q kim

      To rickb57,
      If u know that christ was crucified, how can you ignore his resurrection???

      July 24, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Mark

      Not really. Without god u just have people acting like people with no absolute standard to measure their behavior one way or the other. Let's get rid of the word "religion" and see what happens if we have everyone on the planet attempt to model and live out the life of Christ towards others. If that's called "religion" within the context of your Weinberg quote then his,and apparently your conclusions are horribly inaccurate.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  11. Boxa

    People ridicule God in good times and they blame Him in bad times.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Rick James

      Correct. That is why, to be somewhat honest, you do neither at any time because it's all in the head.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "People ridicule God in good times and they blame Him in bad times."
      I do neither.

      I don't blame it for anything as there is nothing to blame. But good times are had when ridiculing believers.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  12. suggestion

    We all should help and heal each other and that is the main concept of God and religion. Instead of putting forth such worthless articles we should invest that time in such activities which can bring about a small change within ourselves or someone besides us. If people can find solace in God let them do so or if they are happy with finding happiness in their belief of world without God then it is their choice. So, first let us all be humans respecting others pain till then we don't have any right to talk about any kind of supreme being,.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  13. Carla

    Dr. Cooper, senior pastor of Mt. Paran church in Atlanta, GA, ditched is planned sermon this past Sunday to teach on the topic, "Why does God allow suffering?". A very good outline and explanation of the very question this article's author poses. Check out the video replay of this sermon at http://www.mountparan.com/mostrecentmessageV.asp or listen to the audio at http://www.mountparan.com/mostrecentmessageA.asp

    July 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      He has no idea...

      July 24, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  14. Rick James

    Double post. How nice.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Matt

      There is a God, but he gave man free will. In the great plan for us all there are tragedies in life, and this tragedy could have been avoided if this young man had God in his life. Through God, this would not have happened, but through Satan it did. His mind was curroupted and caused him to do such an act. God does not indescribably save people or kill people. It is through God that we are saved, if he had God in his life than this would have been avoided.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  15. Sarah Conner

    When tragedy struck my life 20 years ago, I spent the next decade pondering how could there be a God who would let this happen? Finally, I came to the conclusion that if there is a God, he can not be at all places at all times to stop evil. That's how I deal with that question.

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

      Yahweh/Jesus/Jehovah is omnipresent (knows already the past, present, future), omniscient (everywhere at the same time) and omnipotent (can do anything). Not my claims but of already settled attributes by apologists. It's all a farce anyway.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  16. Eric

    Ratings must be bad to post this type of article, starting to make MSNBC...sorry NBC look good. ,

    July 24, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  17. Anon

    Here's a paradoxical mind-screw for the believers. Since your god Yahweh/Jesus/Jehovah is omnipresent (knows already the past, present, future), omniscient (everywhere at the same time) and omnipotent (can do anything). Then this massacre was part of a divine, non-changing and ever perfect plan. Sorry to say but according to the attributes of your specific deity these people were meant to die.

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

      This is not ment to be insensitive at all but might come off that way for times sake. Everybody dies just a matter of when and how ond day I will die. Its part of life for all of us. One day everyone reading this will also die. Is mass murder tragic yes. Should it be condoned NO. Bottom line is though we all die so for those Accusing GOD look at the big picture.

      Sorry I am heading to sleep so wont be able to respond to the storm that will follow this.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Anon

      Just mentioning the specific attributes laid out by religious apologists.
      I can't blame god because it's all make believe.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Name*q kim

      Bible does not expressly lay out those attributes; those come from man's reasoning based on man's limited understanding/knowledge/capacity. We cannot fully grasp God's power and his precise plan. Mock man for our arrogance in believing that we know it all but do not mock God.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Eric

      still here All of us are ment to die... that is unless the rapture happens during our lives. Even if science finds a way to keep people alive indefinitly the universe itself will eventually come to an end( for the secular thought).

      July 24, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Anon

      Nope, it will mean the end for all type of thought even the judo-christian type. Take your self-imposed ego centrism and shove it up your @$$.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  18. Luis

    Where was God in Aurora? He was in the same place when His own Son, Jesus Christ, was being crucufied for the sins of the world.

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

      To add something to that. God was where he has always been. At the origin of creation. God was there on Day one, he was there when Cane slew Abel, he was there when the Jews and others were driven into Slavery, he was there when Christians were used as Lion-food during the Entertainment events of the Collusium, he was there when the plague hit Europe, and .. well I guess you get my point. BUT, that this is HUGE as well, God has also been there for each and every POSITIVE event in the history of mankind as well. To include the heroic actions of those in Aurora. To question God is an exercise in futility.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  19. Truth will prevail

    We live in a fallen World and there are many who have not accepted Jesus .God has nothing to do with the killing.It is the free will of the killer that caused him to do that.
    Besides the people who were killed had not claimed Gods sovereign protection before leaving the home.
    People who have surrendered to Jesus ,listen to his voice and are guided, directed and protected by Him
    God is LOVE and God never fails.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Madtown

      There are also a great many who will never even hear of Jesus, through no fault of their own. They have been born into this world in a place where christianity doesn't exist. Are they lost too? Are you ready to try and think for yourself?

      July 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      @ Madtown
      God will pursue them and reveal Himself to them.
      And IF THE LOVE OF TRUTH is found in their harts, God will reveal MORE of Himself to them, leading them to Himself, revealing Jesus, the Son of God to them.
      And IF NOT, God will leave them to the state they are in, and they will walk in darkness.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  20. Chad

    Read the bible, it explains it. We arent in the Garden anymore, the world is the way it is because of the trespass of one man:

    To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3

    Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.. by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man...Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous"... Romans 5

    to be frank, this is all terrible news.
    there is good news, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16

    July 24, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It makes absolutely no sense that god would punish every single person for eternity because of the sin of one man. It makes even less sense to me that having another man give up his life would be required to extinguish the sins of all people everywhere.

      Especially since your god is omniscient and omnipotent.

      Why create a world in which contains that which causes man to sin, then punish him for eternity? To what end?

      As I've said before, if you believe this stuff, we are just a cat-toy for your god to play with.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Rick James

      So if God had only not created Satan, who tricked Eve to make Adam eat the fruit, none of this would have happened? Why did God put up the tree anyway, knowing that they would disobey him? It's quite funny to think about.

      And then we Jesus, who was just really God in human form, sacrificing himself to save the world from his own wrath. This leads me to conclude God is both a masochist and sadist.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Rick James

      So if God had only not created Satan, who tricked Eve to make Adam eat the fruit, none of this would have happened? Why did God put up the tree anyway, knowing that they would disobey him? It's quite funny to think about.

      And then we have Jesus, who was just really God in human form, sacrificing himself to save the world from his own wrath. This leads me to conclude God is both a masochist and sadist.

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


      Don't forget to help out with these other quotes.. oops they're posted already. LOL


      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 | |

      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 | |
      –end quote–

      One fool with a quote, two fools with more quotes.. LOL

      July 24, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Rick James

      The posting system is a trip tonight.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • ArthurP

      Speaking of Jesus. God got Mary pregnant with out her permission or consent of any kind. We have a word for that.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Sarah Conner

      This scripture makes no sense at all. Why would God need to sacrifice his only begotten son to show the world that he cares? That makes no sense. That's like saying Susan Smith drowned her boys to show the world how much she cares. Why would God not sacrifice his own life to show he caredf? I would give my own life before I would give up my only begotten son.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Read something ELSE besides the bible, you fvkking retard, CHAD!

      July 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Madtown

      Sarah Conner
      This scripture makes no sense at all. Why would God need to sacrifice his only begotten son to show the world that he cares?
      Right Sarah. And further, this action didn't at all show the WORLD that God cared, because only a small sub-set of human beings on earth witnessed it. The human beings living in North America at the time of Christ had no idea this was all going on, were they less worthy in God's eyes, that they didn't deserve to have a son/daughter of God come into their culture to offer them salvation? God is almighty, created heaven and earth. He couldn't sent sons/daughter to all corners of the globe, but he didn't. I wonder why?

      July 24, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Chad

      God allows us to be eternally separated if we make that choice, DONT MAKE THAT CHOICE
      God has provided a way to reconcile to Him, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT
      God didnt create a world that caused man to sin (the tree in the garden), He created one where it was possible.

      If you were in court, and couldnt pay a levied fine, wouldnt you gladly accept an offer made by someone to pay it on your behalf, no need to pay it back?

      @ArthurP: please do some reading before you say such nonsense...
      In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1

      @Answer, I have no idea what you are talking about...

      July 24, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • St. Paul

      Stop reading the bible. the ancient pay-back scheme was a hoax I cooked up to market the sect I cooked up.

      Chad knows you guys. He really does. He really really really does. He speaks for god. Stop all that laughing. Right now. Just stop it. Chad talked to god,...why...just today, I bet. There is a word for people who talk to invisible friends. Just humor him.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:11 am |
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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.