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. Karlen

    There's nothing in this world to suggest there's any truth to the existence of a god. Simply "saying" it doesn't make it so. If in fact there is a god, it's obvious it doesn't care about what happens here on Earth, so worship is silly. Find something productive to do with your time. Figuring out how to take assault weapons away from crazy people would be far more useful than trying to second-guess a mythical creature's reasons for allowing people to get their heads blown off during a comic book movie.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      I was waiting for the debate about the religious implications of another tragedy ignored by the celestial slave holder. It is nice to see that rational thought and common sense are still out there. The only reason that this happened was because this lunatic decided to execute his horrific plans. if anything, this should further prove the case that no god exists. If god did exist, then he is as apathetic and cruel as the troll who commited this atrocity.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  2. anthony

    the question isn't where was God. but the answer is that there is a devil who controls all the evil in the world and likes to blame God for it every time.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Stefan

      Saying the devil/satan did this is like saying God "allows" satan to do evil, which means god allowed it whether you believe in magic mind control or not. There is a plethora of evidence that man created "gods", not the other way around.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  3. Leon

    "God," is the sound the mind makes when it doesn't wantto think anymore.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  4. J. Andrews

    God, Thor, Anubis, or whoever couldn't have helped because they don't exist.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      They do exists,their just flying around in spaceships

      July 25, 2012 at 7:26 am |
  5. A Universal Unitarian Woman

    I view God in abstract terms and NOT as an anthropomorphic being that allows evil to exist. In my opinion, evil is part of the creation and we can only overcome it by the use of reason and compassion towards others.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      Some muthafvckers juct crazy

      July 25, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • Idol Girl

      Universal Unitarian Woman,

      I completely agree with you.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • A Universal Unitarian Woman


      I agree with what Rosemary Bray McNatt, UU World contributing editor, says about evil: “People are born good and with the ability to make choices. So along with our inherent goodness there is also an inherent capacity for evil.”

      July 25, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Idol Girl

      @Universal Unitarian Woman

      I agree with that quote as well.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  6. Rainer Braendlein

    "Where was God in Aurora massacre?"

    Where was the police, when half a dozen or so people got murdered in New York yesterday (I don't know how many people really get killed in New York every day)?

    Nobody of us would wish that around every corner is a policeman which would prevent crimes. We would get the feeling to live in a state of surveillance, extremly unpleasant.

    Now let us imagine "God would be around every corner" and prevent us from doing evil. Would we be happy about that? Would we still be free people?

    God is somewhat in a dilemma. At the one hand he wants freedom, on the other hand he wants to prevent injustice. Seemingly, God tolerates the evildoesrs for a while up to Judgement Day. During our time on earth it becomes manifest, if we are good people or evildoers. Beginning with Judgement Day the evildoers will get punished (of course, yet before Judgement Day the authority can punish the extreme sinners, called criminals).

    Concerning the victims:

    In a way death belongs to life. Maybe, if they had not died by the massacre, they had died by a disease or an accident or something else. There is no guarantee that we survive the current day. This should make us hurry to search for the real faith which leads us to eternal life. If we have got eternal life, we can die peacefully or in fact we only pass away.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Rob's Follower

      How do you know what "God" wants? The only person you can speak for is yourself. People need to wake up and realize that we are a product of evolution in a universe that most likely harbors tons of civilizations just like ours.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Rob's Follower

      Why do you act, as if you would be backward?

      If you compare the mankind with a bulk of concrete or any other dead matter, you make a great mistake.

      Your theory can lead people to the following opinion: If I kill some people, I perform a service for the overcrowded earth, I just remove some of that needless matter.

      Become a Christian today who respects all other human beings.

      Would you want that someone removes you from the earth?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "Become a Christian today who respects all other human beings."

      Yet you dont respect all other human beings....if you did, Gays would be allowed equal marriage rights. If you did, christians wouldn't try to convert every non-christian. There is no respect for humans other than christians.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      I am incapable of believing in things without evidence, my brain just does not operate that way. At 8 years old, when I figured out santa was not real, it was like a switch being flipped. I feel the religious do themselves and society as a whole a great disservice, since either god or the devil are to blame, so no person can truly be held accountable for their actions. I believe beauty and meaning in life comes from the interactions with those around us, and the perpetual desire to continue discovering and accomplishing new and great things.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  7. Chris

    I question my failth on a daily basis. Why do bad things happen? I wish I knew the answers. I am deeply saddened by this tragedy and my thoughts are with all the families. I wish we could all just get along.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Rob's Follower

      Maybe the whole truth behind faith is a scapegoat for reality of life (we simply do not know). If god did really exist, one would think that his presence would be made known on a daily basis in the lives of everyone.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  8. Rob

    There is no god.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • SciGuy73

      I agree. There is no god.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  9. Reality

    Taking god down a "omniscient" notch but still powerful??

    o From Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous Catholic theologian from his book, Church: The Human Story of God,
    Crossroad, 1993, p.91 (softcover)

    "Christians must give up a perverse, unhealthy and inhuman doctrine of predestination without in so doing making God the great scapegoat of history" .

    "Nothing is determined in advance: in nature there is chance and determinism; in the world of human
    activity there is possibility of free choices.

    Therefore the historical future is not known even to God; otherwise we and our history would be merely a puppet show in which God holds the strings.

    For God, too, history is an adventure, an open history for and of men and women."

    But then there is this complete destruction of said god(s):

    The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (references used are available upon request)

    July 25, 2012 at 7:13 am |
  10. Jaws

    The Bible is clear: Romans 5.1-5, James 1 both state that suffering, in short, builds character. Without trials and tribulations we go through in our lives, our character does not develop. God works in trials to strengthen our faith and bring out amazing qualities: Notice how every time there's a tragedy on the scale of Aurora or Penn State, humanity masses together to support one another and bring good out of the situation. There are even many stories here on CNN that illustrate many inspiring situations that arose from the shooting. I've been through a number of difficult things in my life, and I'll be facing more. I thank God for those challenges, because it is those that draw me nearer to God and towards compassion to others.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Great. Now all you have to do is explain why we should reference a 2000 year old propaganda letter, and why you can't learn to think for yourself.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      The bible was written by a bunch of men to control populations, then edited by more men to control people and make money. It was not written or inspired by god. Learn the history of your religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • sam stone

      jaws: hack off your hand with a knife. it will increase suffering, which will get you closer to god

      July 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  11. AGuest9

    Like everywhere else – not there.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • Jaws

      Easy to say, hard to prove.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      No Jaws. No one can prove a negative. Maybe take a Logic course. You cannot prove the positive claim. I'm sure we're in for a bible quote, no doubt.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  12. Rob

    I think god is gay... not that there's anything wrong with that.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • Rob's Follower

      Troll much?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:10 am |
  13. shut_up

    where was the big bang?? why did the big bang allow this?? since scientists believe in the big bang should we blame the scientist?? good grief, which came first the chicken or the egg??

    what a bunch of goofy questions.. in Adam and Eves time, God told Adam to name all of the animals, he didnt tell them to name all of the eggs........... leave it to cnn to blame our creator...........

    July 25, 2012 at 6:51 am |
    • AGuest9

      Your questions are bizarre, almost like asking why did the Second Law of Thermodynamics allow this? The difference between a god and the Second Law? The Second Law exists (and works).

      July 25, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      What a dumb comment.
      The Big Bang merely describes the formation or emergence of our universe. Like a tree emerging from the ground our universe sprang out of whatever medium universes come from. We may never know the nature of that super-universal medium but to assign an intelligent agent as being responsible without a shred of evidence is ridiculous. Again I ask...why is a natural cause less likely than a supernatural one?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Rob's Follower

      The Big Bang is simply a theory. At this point in time, it cannot be proven or disproven. However, since humans are so advanced here on Earth and yet primitive in our behavior, one should question remain, "Isn't it ok for people to just admit that they don't know?" Instead, we fabricate these ridiculous stories about ficticious characters that create something out of nothing (cough cough, God).

      July 25, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      You cannot possibly be serious "In Adam and Eve's time" Bwahahahaha. Genesis was written by Judean priests around 600 BCE. It's a myth, taken from the Sumerian myths. They had no clue about the millions of years of evolution. You are not really that ignorant are you ?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  14. mjw

    It is odd that one would consider, "Where was God?". Although, some nitwit televangelist will probably come out and say stupid things as has happened in the past. Like Falwell did and Robertson and others. Listen up, God Shoppers, it is not the "Sin" of humanity that causes events like this. It is a crazy person who had open access to guns, explosives, tear gas, body armor and other items that caused this.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:51 am |
  15. Rob

    Just as people ask "Why?" when a fault opens up and swallows an entire town or when a soldier takes a round in the throat, these things happen without the consent of any person on this little planet. Cause and affect. This guy obviously has a mental problem, regardless of how smart he may be. There are no gods... take care of yourself and others instead of trying to figure out why the said sky god allowed it to happen. Such primitive thinking...

    July 25, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • Rob

      Effect... sorry. See, just a primate with poor spelling...

      July 25, 2012 at 6:51 am |
  16. In His Care

    Shall we, as lumps of clay, say, "Why have you made us so?" Our eternal souls are temporarily housed in a body of death. This body may pass en-utero, in infancy, in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. It will not linger too long upon the stage. The soul is unseen. For those of us who believe, it is of a truth that while in it, we groan at our own propensity to sin and at the sins of others. We particularly groan for acts such as these and to read of these thousands of posts whereby the Righteous Name of the Lord is maligned. Does death and suffering please Him? No. Suffering is temporary. Death is eternal for the unbeliever. I surmise that if the Word of God isn't to be believed, words of mine will likewise be ridiculed. He is righteous in all He does or doesn't do. In Him there is no darkness at all. Things written in the Bible were written for our learning that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope. Read it to be wise. Live it to be Holy.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:47 am |
    • sam stone

      Are you claiming to be holy?

      July 25, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      " I surmise that if the Word of God isn't to be believed, words of mine will likewise be ridiculed."

      When you take the words of men who wrote that book as the word of god with zero proof other than the authors telling you they were inspired by god, you deserve ridicule.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  17. BamaDaniel

    God didn't write the bible,he didn't even tell man to write it.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:45 am |
  18. luker6401

    The simple truth of the matter is this: We live in a sin sick, fallen world where bad things happen all the time. The bible says that Satan is prowling around like a lion seeking whom he may destroy. I keep reading reports about how the killers gun jammed, giving many people time to exit the theatre while he took the time to reload? I also read about a man who saw what was going on in one part of the theater and went to another part of the theater to warn people and because of this act many more innocent lives were saved that night. Why was that not mentioned in this article? We focus so much on the negative of what happened, and I do not want to take anything away from the tragedy of it all, but God is good. This world is evil. It is evil because of sin. We are given a free will. The killer acted on his own free will. He, just like everyone else will one day stand before God Almighty and give an account of his life. He will answer for his sin to a Holy and Righteous God.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      Free will or gods will be done

      July 25, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • In His Care

      I agree with most all you have stated, brother. Our wills aren't totally free. We are bound by sin and bound to sin. Apart from Jesus Christ we can do nothing truly good. The Book of Hebrews teaches us that it is impossible to please Him without faith. One may think that this action or that action is pleasing to God. We need not cater to the sinful nature but because it can't be reformed or repaired, we must be ever vigilant. God bless.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:04 am |
  19. doctore0

    We are alone in the mess, and the mass

    July 25, 2012 at 6:37 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      No,we have each other.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • AGuest9

      @Bama – tell yourself that on Friday night.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      Don't have to,I live in hurricane alley, I know im not alone.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:23 am |
  20. One one

    I find it amusing that so many of these comments boild down to: god allows bad things to happen to us because we don't worship him enough . Seems rather childish.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      If they only knew they worshipped ancient aliens that came down and manipulated primate DNA,created us and made us mine for minerals

      July 25, 2012 at 6:34 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.