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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. TOMG

    LIFE AND DEAD ARE THE KARMA NGHIEP FROM ONESELF PASS LIFE TIME ONTO THIS PRESENT LIFE TIMING AND WILL BE ONTO THE FUTURE LIFE TIMING ALSO , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Who invited me?

      first...WHY ARE YOU YELLING?
      second....Can we get a translation to enlglish please.
      I think your cat is walking on the keyboard while you are typing
      either that or you are typing in tongues

      July 25, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Who? If the post is too loud for you, turn your speakers down (LOL).

      July 25, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  2. Lydia

    Remember 911, did it draw you to your knees? Sadly only for a moment, God allows these things to draw people closer to him. Allow this to draw you closer to him.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Who invited me?

      God lets people suffer and die to bring them closer to him? Sounds like god needs a hug, so he'll let thousands die so they can hug him

      July 25, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      No it drew me to my Army recruiters office. People tend to get executed on their knees. Slaves stay on their knees. You are welcome to kneel, but count me out.

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

      To the nonbelievers on this site.

      Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

      Galatians 6:7

      Amen.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  3. Bubba Rydel

    Some people ask how God could allow 12 people to die. The truth is that we are all going to die eventually. If you look at the incident with faith you see – a jammed gun and missed shots which caused many injuries. I see an auditorium full of people, a possessed man with guns and only 12 people dead. Christ and his parents were forced to flee when King Herod ordered the death of all firstborn. Why did God allow this to happen? It is against free will. Christ was born into a sinful world and even He was tempted, tortured, humiliated and finally murdered. God is love.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  4. TOMG

    HUMAN HEART ORGAN WILL BE GIVEN BACK TO THE FIRE ELEMENT IN THE END OF TIMING , THE LUNG ORGAN WILL BE GIVEN BACK TO THE AIR ELEMENT IN THE END OF TIMING , THE STOMACH ORGAN WILL BE GIVEN BACK TO THE CEMETARY SOIL ELEMENT IN THE END OF TIIMING , THE LIVER ORGAN WILL BE GIVEN BACK TO THE METALLIC ELEMENT IN THE END OF TIMING , THE KIDNEY WILL BE GIVEN BACK TO THE WOOD ELEMENT IN THE END OF TIMING , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Who invited me?

      We've got a code red in here.....bring the thorazine and a straight jacket...STATT

      July 25, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  5. Richard

    Where was God in Aurora, Co? Where was God in the deserts of Iraq? Where was God while 3000 people died for the ideas of a mad man? Where?
    People often ask such a question after the shock of a tragedy that takes so much from so many. I understand firsthand the lingering questions one would have after such a thing. I also understand the lost feeling you get after you think you are going to die. We live in a fractured world full of sin. God did not create this world to be this way. We can’t answer the questions all the time, however that does not limit the power of God. God does not want these things to happen but he lets them happen. We go about our days with little interest in what God wants from our lives and then in a time of tragdy we ask “Where were you?” It is not God will that these things happen, but every man has free will and that is what causes these things to happen.
    We can't blame God when we are hurting and turn from him like we don't need him when things are good. Turn to God with your hurt, fears, and even with your best days.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  6. Anthony

    Here are some truths that many refuse to grasp. God is holy, we are not. God will NOT do it our way, most men would rather do things their way. God is true, absolute, faithful, unchanging, sovereign, and the creator of everything you can touch. He is not the author of evil and lies. The is one who is, Satan.
    A huge problem exists because many people truly don't know who God is nor communicate truth of who he is. Many people would rather blame God for evil because it's easier than recognizing the evil that exists in all of us. Many human beings fail to realize the wrath God withholds EVERYDAY from wiping ALL of humanity away. We all will die someday. When is a good time to die??? How is a good way to die??? Death is death. This is why God sent Jesus to be crushed for all sins of sinful man, only for those who would deny themselves, confess, believe, and trust that he is who he say he is. As a result, we're freed from sin and it's curse and given the gift of eternity spent with the loving, everlasting God where no sin exists. THAT is love. THAT'S who he is.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Madtown

      many people truly don't know who God is nor communicate truth of who he is.
      -----
      Yes, and there's a good explanation for this: These things are not knowable.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  7. TiredODaCrap

    What God do some of y'all serve? If He did not give us free will – to choose how we wish to act – everyone would be believe and there would be no sin! Unfortunately in this case, He does allow people to make choices on how they will act, does allow evil to befall even those who believe, and does not provide some protective shroud over his followers so that nothing will happen to them.
    It's not a magic lamp, it's faith. Not everything that happens (or exists) is meant for us to understand. I know many don't agree, but again – you're free to choose how you want to live your life.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  8. ObamaJoe

    GOD

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

    ==================================

    No,,,fake GOD,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Death is more like when you switch off your computer. No more electric in your CPU =/= No more you. You are still there

    July 25, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  9. Matt

    the bible is full of stories where God tests his flock – These acts of evil are like pop quizes for man –

    July 25, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • weeble

      Then I fail that pop quiz...and many others. I don't want any part of a god who has this as part of his "will". Our interpretation of god...if there is one... is so misguided and ridiculous. The ignorance of some very intelligent people is disappointing to me. Man has taken religion and turned it into a tool for power and control. That is not what god...once again, if there is one...intended. This tragedy did not happen because god is testing us. It happened because a person is what we have determined as insane...imo.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  10. Mark

    God allows evil to continue because he is patient. If God were to return today and eradicate all evil, how many of us would survive that eradication? God does have a plan to get rid of evil once and for all (see Revelation) and that absolutely will happen. But He wants to give all humanity time to accept his free offer of salvation. Never forget that God hates evil and weeps for those affected by it. Jesus cried when he heard that Lazarus had died. He

    July 25, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Madtown

      You seem to think you know exactly how God operates. Be humble, and mindful of your arrogance.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      god hates evil even though since he created everything he created it

      July 25, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • weeble

      All fiction. Stories made up by uneducated people thousands of years ago.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  11. NOT MY CHAIR

    only in America are we still trying to battle ignorance and losing

    July 25, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  12. The_Mick

    "I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it." – Benjamin Franklin

    It was clear to Franklin, and to many others, that the Christian notion of an "all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God," doesn't make sense. He is capable of creating an entire universe and yet who is so petty He requires our devotion? He puts His "children" on a planet with famine, hunger, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, floods, the big bad wolf, etc. and, not satisfied with that, He gives His children leprosy, flesh eating bacteria, cancer, blindness and Sarah Palin, yet we are to suppose He's worried about what happens to a people in a small theater?

    July 25, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      i laughed when i got to Sarah Palin

      July 25, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  13. Geoffrey Hamilton

    Free Will, humans have freedom from divine intervention. Its up to us to be the heroes and do the right thing. This is a concept atheists and religous types should all be able to grasp. There were quite a bit of heroes in that theater... I think that says more about us than one deranged gunman.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  14. Josh

    There is no good, this is proof.

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

      What about those who gave their lives that night to save others. That was good. Do not take that from them.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  15. TOMG

    IF THERE ARE WATER ELEMENT THAN THEIR WILL BE LIFE FORM THERE AND WATER IS LIFE , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  16. TOMG

    THE FIRE ELEMENT AND THE AIR ELEMENT AND THE SOIL ELEMENT AND THE WATER ELEMENT TO HELP CREATING THE HUMAN FLESH FORMING , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  17. Me

    How could people NOT believe in evil? Religion, in and of itself, is evil. How many other "organizations" promote more evil? It tells you how to live, who to love, rights on YOUR body and has shown more HATE towards other groups and some have encouraged KILLING in the name of their "God"....do away with religion and a LOT of problems are solved!

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

      That's your religion. Sounds like what communists would agree with.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  18. Emily

    God gives people free will, and sometimes that is a good thing and other times it is a terrible terrible thing like in Friday's massacre. It is not God's will or desire to have people die, but he grants us a gift that allows us to make our own decisions. Hopefully we try and do good and do God's work, but others have a differnt reality. Most likely this man wasn't in touch with God at all. It is an awful tragedy.

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

      my bible says god is and always will be the same, and his word is perfect......wasnt he the one who killed all the first born ( the innocent) in the plagues of egypt? yeah...

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

      Tim- read the whole book and if you understand it then comment, but keep in mind "the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing."

      July 25, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  19. TOMG

    IN THE MORNING KNOWING AND TRUSTING IN GOD HAND ARE MUCH BETTER BLESSING IN THE VERY EVENING THAT THE DEVIL AND THE EVIL TRING TO GET ONE LIFE LIVING FORM , AMEN .

    July 25, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  20. BTME

    Maybe after years of telling God to leave, as the gentlemen he is, he left? Like a friend you never talk to because you never made the time, God finally walked away from the conversation, and now we blame him?

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

      It's a mistake to describe God as following human tendancies.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      i feel like i could talk to a wall and have a better chance of it seeing the follies of its ways then have a religious person see how ridiculous their beliefs are. but i guess a wall doesn't have faith

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

      @Madtown:

      Why? Were we not made in his image? Therefore are human tendencies must match his.

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

      ArthurP
      Therefore are human tendencies must match his.
      -------
      How can you be sure? You're only told we're made in his image by the men who wrote the bible. You think an almighty God displays all the imperfect qualities that we humans do? We have no real knowledge of God's attributes, and how he operates. It's not knowable.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:40 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.