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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. Lauren

    God was there and is always there. He gave us free will to choose between right actions and wrong actions – the choice is up to us. Sometimes, people make the wrong decision and commit horrific acts like shooting up a movie theater. It is not God's plan to dictate our every move and to stop bad things from happening. If it was, we wouldn't have free will or the ability to make our own decisions. We would be puppets, and that was never God's plan. God has been manifested in this tragedy though by the thoughts, prayers, and heroic actions of the survivors and people around our nation.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Who invited me?

      definitionof free will:
      The term used by religious affiliated people to explain the total absence of god when someone does something bad.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Lauren

      Is that from Webster's? Or is that just a definition you made up because you are incapable of understanding and acknowledging that people can believe something differently from you – and they may be right.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • WOTAN

      Free Will explains the difference between the brains that God made, and the brains that Man makes. As a programmer, I can spend years and years making a computer smarter and smarter, and as an engineer, I can make a robot more and more human-like. And if I spend a billion years at it, my creation may actually resemble Man. At that point I have to make a decision – do I control its thoughts, or do I give it Free Will. ... God gave us Free Will, but He also restricted us to carbon bodies so that we could not travel the universe and mess it up. Smart Guy, that God.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  2. humblepie74

    There is a God and the evidence for Him is all around us. Suppose we discover a new planet and we don't find any life there at all, but we discover a single house-like structure. Would we assume that over billions of years, that structure came together on it's own? Or would we conclude that something/someone had to have designed it and built it? The same can be said when looking at the world around us– there is plenty of evidence in this world that someone designed it and set it into motion. How can the human body, as complex as it is, come to exist without something designing it? Even with billions of years of evolution, it's hard to conclude that life and this world just came together with no designer.

    So, if God exists, why does he choose to allow bad things to happen? If He gave us freedom to choose our own way (i.e. we're not puppets), then that would mean some people will choose to do the wrong thing and innocent people are harmed in the process. And, actually, we have no idea how many almost tragedies like these are thwarted– a crazed gunman whose plot never gets off the ground doesn't make the new because no one knows! Perhaps God, knowing all things, already took into account "human error" and knows how to use the bad things that he does allow to happen to bring good out of them? From His viewpoint, He may already know how He's going to work it all out for good. But from our limited viewpoint, it doesn't make sense. But can we expect to understand God's viewpoint? If we did, wouldn't that make us smarter than Him? And, that would make Him rather small. I'm okay with not understanding the actions of a God who's infinitely more knowledgeable than me and who has the ability to see the BIG picture. And, if you can believe that He is ultimately good, above all else, then you can trust that when he does allow a crazed gunman's plot to succeed, that He's already got a good plan for how it's all going to end.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Question Answerererer

      How can the human body, as complex as it is, come to exist without something designing it?

      Someone's never taken a science class. Brainwashed much?

      July 25, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Timmy

      Hey question person...science has still not explained where that first cell came from, you're probably going to say the cosmos or the big bang...so where did those come from? It all came from somewhere so where Mr/Mrs Answerer?

      July 25, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • humblepie74

      I have a degree in Chemical Engineering, so I've taken plenty of science classes and did quite well in them. Science and a belief in a creator do not conflict. But to believe that life came from nothing defies science.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  3. Jordan

    Christian theologians over the years have made a crucial distinction when it comes to the will of God. First, there is His will of decree. Since God – by definition – is completely sovereign, whatever he wills or decrees shall surely come to pass. Second, there is God's will of desire. This is the expressed will that He gives to us through Scripture (e.g., Thou shalt not kill). With that distinction made, we can properly say that this shooting in Aurora was God's will (of decree) and that it was not His will (of desire). God is sovereign over this situation and at the same time is grieved by it. The question then becomes: why would this happen? This is hard to understand in our limited perspective. However, we know that God can work immeasurable good from unparalleled evil. The killing of Jesus (the innocent God-man) was the greatest crime ever committed and it was done according to God's plan (Acts 2:23). And now, we can see that it was the greatest good that the world has ever seen. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God has made a way for sinful humanity to be reconciled to Him. So repent and believe in Jesus! Trust in the work that Jesus did (living a perfect life and bearing the punishment for sin), don't try to merit favor with God, and treasure Him as Savior and Lord!

    July 25, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Timmy

      Amen

      July 25, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  4. Wunk

    This is a question that is easy to answer for those who are not affected by the tragity, but ask those who are in the middle of all this. I look at the book from the Old Testament Job, he went through death, loss of monitary things, and personally physical pain yet he did not curse God. My wife and I are going through a tough time but nothing like that but I've not held up to what Job did and I feel ashamed for it. I pray that these people who were hurt, even the gunman find the peace and love of God in this situation.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Love the story of Job.
      God tortures an innocent man just to settle up a bet with Satan.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Timmy

      Come on Doc. Did you read the whole story? Everything was given back to Job by God. Don't pick text out just to satisfy your needs. Read the whole story my friend.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Fact

      Doc – did you read the end of the story?
      Do you think Job complained about how God used him and honored him for all time by using him as an example for his faith in God even when he endured such suffering?
      When Job spends eternity with God in heaven, do you think he will be complaining?
      You do not know God nor His future plans so why do you think (like Job's friends) that you are smarter than God!

      July 25, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  5. dwassllir

    The sooner we get over the God delusion, the better off we will grow as a species.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • GOD

      Stop making sense, this is a CNN Comment section after all. +1

      July 25, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      its about time god weighed his two cents in and allowed us to stop bickering

      July 25, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Fact

      Here again (and please hear, again)
      "The gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing."

      July 25, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  6. Unknown

    Atheists believe in miracles.Life came from non-life that exploded,everything was not created but rather we "evolved" from something else.

    Sounds more like a fairy-tale and a religion than science.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • dwassllir

      What you said is wrong on so many levels that I will only tell you to pick up a book about SCIENCE once in awhile so you don't sound like an ignorant hick

      July 25, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      so believing in a logical progression of events is a fairy tale to you and illogical, but a magical man in the sky that can do everything but remains completely silent while his "children" suffer is completely acceptable to you?

      July 25, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • joe

      Ever watch a tadpole turn into a frog? Evolution right before our eyes.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Timmy

      Joe...say what???? That's called metamorphosis not evolution.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  7. TOMG

    HELL BEING ARE LIVING TOGETHER IN THIS KARMA WORLD NOW DAILY , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  8. Question Answerererer

    Dan Gilgoff's Question: Where was God in Auruora?
    Answer: No where or everywhere. Imaginary things can be anywhere or no where.

    Next question.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Waking up in the morning miserable as well going to bed miserable as atheists do, then starting that miserable existence day in and day out must be exhausting when following the lies of satan.

      God has the answer for you. Repent to Jesus Christ of all your sins, those you knew of and those that you hadn't a clue were sins, ask Him if you can get closer to Him (knock and He will answer), and of course, sin no more. Then and only then will you get past that miserable existence of believing satan's lies.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  9. Sara

    It wasn't God's will for people to die. It was a predetermined decision made by all of these souls that this was their time. That there was something to be learned from it and that this was how it would happen. They chose this path. God supported that.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • zach

      so god supported 12 people being killed yet that is one of his ten commandments? "thou shall not kill"

      July 25, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  10. ObamaJoe

    God bless America,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    God bless President Obama 🙂

    July 25, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  11. 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 court houses, 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?

    July 25, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • GOD

      Yeah, Lets get some Hindu Gods up on or monies, or Allah! – Why the fu0k do you need god on that stuff? Idiots abound.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • GOD

      Better of worshiping that golden calf IMO

      July 25, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • LinCA

      @Lenny

      You said, "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 court houses, get those Bibles out of hotels and no graduation ceremonies in our churches."
      No, we haven't. We've been trying to make this country better by not favoring one delusion over any other. We are working hard to make it more inclusive and less discriminating. We are still working on getting the references to imaginary friend out of the Pledge and off our money.

      We are making progress, but we aren't done yet.

      You said, "How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand that He leave us alone?"
      I don't expect anyone's imaginary friend to bless or protect anyone.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Lenny, the fools that follow satan's lies have no ears to hear or eyes to see Jesus Christ's truth. Their misery overflows as we witnessed last week, weeks before and after. We shall continue to witness their misery until God's truth is brought back to His full glory to all our citizens in the USA.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  12. TOMG

    TOO RICH IS STILL FROM THE ONE , TOO POOR IS STILL FROM THE ONE , TOO STUPID IS STILL FROM THE ONE , TOO GENIUS IS STILL FROM THE ONE , THE DEVIL MIND AND THE EVIL HELL MIND IS FROM THE KARMA HELL FORM , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • ObamaJoe

      NO,,,there is no devil mind,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,all mind are wisdom,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      July 25, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  13. ObamaJoe

    Come on,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,our soul never die,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Our physical body is made from earth by GOD,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    It's a toy,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    One of God's kids destroyed another kid's toy .

    That's all,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Their soul will learn,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Their soul will learn how to manage this planet,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,it's their destiny,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    I don't think GOD is feeling sorry,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,he is smiling on this Aurora massacre,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Dam,,,,,,,his kids are not grown up yet,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    July 25, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • GOD

      from the looks of all those comma's you look unsure my son.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • ObamaJoe

      :),,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,what's up,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      July 25, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  14. melisaroberts

    God was there...He was there in the selflessness of those that risked their lives to save others. He was there when the gun jammed. He continues to be there in the outpouring of love for the families and communities. God created humankind and gave us free will – it is solely man's inhumanity to man that creates these horrific and senseless tragedies. God, however, is always there in the midst of our suffering, consistently showing us His love through the love of others.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • GOD

      I WAS NOT THERE..... you have NO EVIDENCE!

      July 25, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Madtown

      melisaroberts
      He was there when the gun jammed
      -----
      Yeah, could very well be. We don't know for certain.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • ArthurP

      So he caused the gun to jam and therefore stop the slaughter. He let the shooter kill 12 people first. Neville Chamberlain comes to mind. Myself, if I had the power to stop the shooter I would have done it as soon as he was seen to pose a threat.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      No, the heroic nature of the people who died protecting loved ones was what saved lives, and AR-15 rifles have a tendency to jam with drum magazines, as they were designed for stagger-stacked 30 round magazines with consistent spring pressure in the magazine. Because that is a pretty awful move if you wait for 70 people to get shot before you decide to say, "Yeah I think a weapons jam is on order".

      July 25, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  15. Gary Duits

    Where was God in all of this you wonder? Well He was at the same place when they killed His Son!! Bad poeple may kill the body, but they are never fully succesfull (because we can Not kill the soul That belongs to God Hallelua

    July 25, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  16. Jeff

    God was doing what he normally does- Having a beer and doobie. Sad. But since the christian go to phrase is "god works in mysterious ways." I'm guessing the bright side is that whoever was killed were probably mass murderers Hitler style in the future.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • tim

      and that ""goto phrase"" isnt even in the bible

      July 25, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  17. JM

    God is not the reason......he is the answer. And YES, this is a debate that unfortunatley was caused by the first man and woman. We are a product of their decision.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Who invited me?

      bible babble, bible babble, bible babble

      July 25, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  18. Lola

    Probably death is not evil from Gods' point of view; just like boarding a plane to change landscape...

    July 25, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • GOD

      NO... Death is more like when you switch off your computer. No more electric in your CPU = No more you.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • GOD

      ...oh yeah, good luck firing your neurons w/o any power.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  19. john

    we live in the devils domaine and he can strike without gods knowing but after it started ill tell you where he was... god was in the ar-15 a perfect military weapon that can survive a dessert and continue to fire for our boys in the dessert but JAMMED in a movie theater with a 100 plus clip on it..... god was protectingth 40 plus injured and not killed... he was with a woman with a brain defect to show everything has a reason... and most importantly got was at the gates of heaven welcomeing 12 people to eternal life... god was in that move theater that night and so was the devil... god is good and even for those who do not belive its never too late and hopefully one day he will welcome you to eternal life... GOD BLESS the victims and all of us...

    July 25, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Who invited me?

      How do you know the people that were killed didn't go to hell?, and how exaclty 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.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Who?, the people that died that day are back with the Lord who created all. They are in spiritual form again, not having to contend with the sins of the flesh that blinds. Therefore, all clarity is restored. All memories of Jesus Christ are in full glory to them. After the day of the Lord, is judgment for those that continue to refuse to overcome. Christians know that anyone back with the Lord knows to love Him for eternity.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  20. Timmy

    It's funny how everyone asks where God is when something bad happens but does not ask that same question everyday when good things happen.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • midwstrngrl

      You cannot have it both ways. If he involves himself, then you must blame him for all...after all is he not God?

      July 25, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Timmy

      Blame God for our sin are you serious?

      July 25, 2012 at 10:07 am |
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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.