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. georgex

    I am really surprised at the huge number of posts here and of those expressing some doubt about God. This is one great thing about the Internet in that people who don't have the majority view in their neighborhoods can talk about different ideas. Being critical of religions was said not to be polite. Now we can see that there are many with contrary views. There are organizations now which help people share such as The Secular Coalition for America at http://www.secular.org

    July 25, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      It is nice to see the numbers of rational thinkers in America increasing.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  2. Le


    July 25, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      But he could have touched James holmes heart.and never allowed it to happen,but he didn't.PS real men in that theater did save lives,they.gave up their own

      July 25, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      Have you EVER READ the bible?

      Romans 13:1-7 states, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."

      July 25, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Inferno

      Did your god command you to use all caps or did you exercise your own free will?

      July 25, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  3. Slippery

    It was not God who was in the theater that night it was the devil in the form of the gunmen, plain in simple. If you want to look closer you will see the Son of God himself Jesus Christ in those that protected loved ones and sacrificed their lives to protect them. Christ was also there when the bombs in the apartment did not go off as planned, He was there when the assault rifle jammed ending the shooting and forcing the devil to go back outside to his vehicle and when the Police Officers captured the gunmen and later when they disarmed the apartment without any bloodshed or harm.

    12 people died but many more lives were saved thru the grace of God. The gunman will have his day both in court and in the court of final judgement.

    So both God and Devil were there that night. There is your answer.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      What about those that chose to stand in front of the bullets to protect the ones they loved? If it was only god, then their heroism means nothing, since they were not responsible, god was. Give people a little credit.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Craig Doug

      The Devil is Go'd weapon of mass destruction. He uses him so that people like you will say "it was the devil." Understand this your bible clearly says the devil can do nothing without the permission of God.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      Sorry but I have seen MANY gun failures at the gun range....was god there making my gun fail to feed rounds?

      I guess the bomb squad that went into that apartment deserves no credit.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      Plus, if god is all powerful, then he controls the angels, right? If lucifer is a fallen angel, why doesn't god just beat him down? Or is it too much of a stretch from his heavenly perch? Just a thought.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  4. Eris

    Everyone is missing the point here God gave humans choice. Read between the lines human kind has the choice to do wrong or right. According to the bible since there are victims they are chosen to be with god yes there's suffering yes there's pain but there is a balance in life good can not exist without evil and evil can not exist without good. In order to understand gods way u have to extend your mind and see the big picture when it's our time it's our time. Everyone passes awAy sick murdered accidental which ever way u look at it from the moment we are born the only thing garenteed in life is death.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      I love how the faithful embrace the servitude that they are destined to be an eternal part of. The idea that we have to be given everything, like a dog receiving table scraps. It is disgraceful.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "According to the bible"

      You can stop right there since the bible was written by men to control populations then edited by more men for power, money and to convert pagans. Learn its history.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  5. The Asian Atheist

    i am going to roughly paraphrase something I read:

    Religion in a dark age makes sense, in the same way that having a blind man lead you down a dark trail at night does; no one will know the trail better than he will. But when the light comes, it no longer makes sense for the blind man to lead you.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  6. sowe2442

    Religion was invented. Early humans needed a control or fear to instill in the now masses of human beings. STORIES were told of a God and Evil. You would go to hell, side with the devil, blah blah blah. Religion made man fearful of going against what it said. When man became more intelligent and began to evolve, religion was questioned. Why only one God? Where did this apple and snake come from? The fix, government. Same type of fears instilled in humans, UNDER GOD, but not now you have people to associatiate with these fears and not just some mythical dude in the clouds. Just my own theory so don't ask for source material. Look at everything with an open mind and please provide relavant feedback.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:53 am |
  7. Le

    @BAMADANIEL: How about you intervene now by changing your mindset!!!! just like the bible says, the fool has said in his or her heart that there is no God.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      " just like the bible says, the fool has said in his or her heart that there is no God."

      The bible was written by a bunch of men over a long period of time to control populations, then edited by more men for power, money and to convert pagans to christianity. Learn the history of your religion please

      July 25, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  8. lma

    Always blame God!. Add him to the list? As unfortunate things like happens and lives are lost. It is how we rise from it in our "faith". We all have different higher powers to look up to and we grieve for this tragedy. But is how we rise from it! Don't let the anger and hate overcome you. Pray for everyone good or bad. As a victim of a violent crime I grieved and forgave and rose from it.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:52 am |
  9. mary

    So much anger in many of these posts. We all know there will always be senseless tragedy in our world . My heart goes out to all the families who lost their loved ones. I can not imagine the pain they are feeling today. Maybe instead of raising a fist and bashing God we would better serve our fellow man and offer help and support in any way we can. Our faith may be shaken this is true, but dont let it pull you away from God, rather look to him for strength..

    July 25, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  10. Diane

    I'm sorry that Craig doesn't believe that there is something there bigger than himself and if you are a true believer you know that our reward is in heaven not here on earth. God gave man free will and unfortunately some use it for evil. Otherwise how could we explain why innocent children die at the hands of maniacs. I know that God had his arms wrapped around each and every person who died in that theater and guided them home without pain or suffering. Those left behind are the ones who unfortunately are suffering. I hope Craig finds faith in God some day.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      Heaven means sky in English are you going to the sky

      July 25, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  11. religion; a way to control the weak minded

    luker6401 said "ep 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"

    Luker, are you saying that God jammed his weapon to allow people to escape? Funny, I guess god likes to hang out and gun ranges then. I've seen and have had plenty of FTF an FTE failures. God had nothing to do with that

    July 25, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • cocoloco

      God was not at 12 midnight with a bunch of people whose 'god' is violence, cursing and the like!!! Seriously, only a fool says in his heart, "There is no God..." Read it, it's in God's Word. An agnostic and an atheist becomes a "believer" at the first pop of a gun at a theater! Turn or burn. It's that simple!

      July 25, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      ""There is no God..." Read it, it's in God's Word."

      Those words are not the words of god...those are the words of many different men over many years used to control people...then edited by other men for power and money. Learn the history of your religion please

      July 25, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  12. georgex

    Don't blame God for the deaths and give Him credit for those that escaped.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Cthulhu

      Religious people are so stupid. There is no god and never has been.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  13. J

    God is crying right now over the fact that the USA is literally kicking Him out of all aspects of our lives and when there is a void something will fill it; obviously evil is taking hold. If we do not get on our knees as a country and get back to the Bible more tragedies will occur.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      the bible is nothing but a bunch of words written by many men over many years to control populations. Then more men edited the book for power and money. The people who wrote about Jesus only did so 60-100years after his death. Learn the history of your religion.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      I dont like the slavery part(personal reasons),so you can keep that part of the bible

      July 25, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • joe

      I'm crying right now becasue god lets millions of starving childen die. And you're right! Get back to the bible! Lets start at Leviticus and not ignore any of it.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  14. Matt

    You can always tell the people who think they know everything about God and religion. Non-believers will always say "why did God allow this". You cannot convince these people otherwise. When people want to avoid responsibility for creating their problems they blame God, but things are good they think "they" are great and have created their own happiness.
    God is not going to stop this guy from killing people, the bible or his teachings never have said that. He has allowed humans to make decisions and we have to live with the consequences of those decisions. So grow up people and accept reality and quit blaming others for your problems.
    Americans are so fuking whiney about every issue, it really is comical.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Don't be stupid, Matt. If a person doesn't believe in god then he doesn't blame god. That would be like a kid not believeing in Santa and then blaming Santa for not bringing him presents. The point is to YOU. Why would YOU believe in a god who would allow this? I think that's a stupid question for an atheist to ask, and that it doesn't do much good, but that's the point being made.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  15. Le

    OH my Goodness!!!!!!!!!! God was there! He was there when the gunman rifle jammed. Realize how many more people were supposed to be killed. With fire power like that and the advantage the gunman had over the movies goers!!!!!!!!!! There were supposed to be more victims. As a Marine, the gunman were to suppose to slaughter almost the entire theater, yet by the mercy of God he did not. So you better believe GOD DID INTERVENE!!!

    July 25, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      Next time intervene.before the horror.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      "He was there when the gunman rifle jammed"
      are you saying God jammed the rifle? .... hmm after 12 people died. Good timing all powerful, all loving, all knowing lord.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      you are a marine and believe god jammed the weapon? LOL – this is our marine corps now? How many weapon failures have you seen in your career? I am not in military but I saw a few last night at the gun range. FTE and FTF happen all the time, especially with high capacity mags.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  16. John Ceccon

    Exactly. Where?

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

    God loves this stuff! Just read the bible!

    July 25, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      He didn't write it

      July 25, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  18. Rainer Braendlein

    Safety is a value, but freedom too. That is a dilemma, even for God.

    "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 7:42 am |
    • Greg Conn

      And which faith is the "real faith?" The one you believe in?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  19. Rainer Braendlein

    How can we respect our fellow human beings?

    First, we must realize that God gave his precious Son for us. By that he expressed infinite love for every single human being. This leads to the conclusion that he loves you and me and thus we should love him and each other.

    Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for us on the cross. This should really touch us deeply.

    Can I kill a guiltless human being which is loved by God? Impossible!

    Of course, the authority is allowed th punish the people which don't respect their fellow human beings.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • Greg Conn

      Ranier, just because this is your belief doesn't mean that we all "must first realize that God gave his 'precious son' for us." That's not a belief shared by everybody, nor is there any imperative that we must all "realize it." Jews for instance don't believe that your Jesus was the "son of God."
      If you want to move forward with a dialogue you must not preface it by saying (or thinking) "that first" people must believe things in the same way you believe them.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  20. Craig

    So, God sent himself down to earth to sacrifice himself to himself because bleeding on the cross was the only way that he could convince himself to forgive us for the fact that an ancestor of ours that was made from a rib ate a magic fruit that she wasn’t supposed to eat after being tricked by a talking snake. Anyone that doesn’t believe this story will be tortured forever by the very god that loves us.

    Ahh Yeah. God is a figment of man's imagination. It always has been and always will be.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Le

      God was there! He was there when the gunman rifle jammed. Realize how many more people were supposed to be killed. With fire power like that and the advantage the gunman had over the movies goers!!!!!!!!!! There were supposed to be more victims. As a Marine, the gunman were to suppose to slaughter almost the entire theater, yet by the mercy of God he did not. So you better believe GOD DID INTERVENE!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • SciGuy73

      It just keeps getting better, every time you tell it!

      July 25, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      You're going to make them cry.always wondered why a all powerful God would need to be born as a mere human man,I mean we are already created in their image right?

      July 25, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      The story isn't that delusional.

      Many people are not able to control their se-xuality? Why? They assume the enormous se-xual pressure they feel would be usual. Strangly enough other people observing the fornicators, gays, adulterers, etc. feel some disgust.

      Conclusion: Our very strong longing for se-xual satisfaction must be something like a disease or defect (peopel which observe our misbehaviour, feel disgust).

      That fits well together with Genesis and the story of the Fall. Our grandgrandgrand .... father experienced a fall and we are also affected by that, which becomes manifest through our se-xual greed.

      Yet, Jesus Christ, God and God's Son, still loves us and can set us free, if we ask him.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      @rain man didn't fall,gods soms fell read your bible better

      July 25, 2012 at 7:57 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.