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. John

    God does not exist. Period. If you believe he does, all you have to do is prove it.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • OrthoPA

      Why don't you prove he doesn't?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Josh

      OrthoPA, if I were to claim that unicorns existed, would the burden of proof be on you to prove that they don't? Of course not, as that would be ridiculous. Similarly, the burden of proof rests on the believer in God (the one making the claim), not the atheists and agnostics.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Madtown

      Well, statements of definitiveness in either direction aren't really correct. The only correct answer is: we don't know.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • John Smith

      I'm under no obligation to prove God exists in order to believe in God.
      There is evidence that God exists in the form of scripture and first-hand accounts in every human society that has existed for the last 10,000 years. Whether you believe that evidence is reliable and should be believed is up to you. Don't try to make me furnish further proof to you. I'm under no obligation to do so.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • SomeNameHere

      @John Smith,

      You don't need any evidence. Faith, by definition, does not regard or require evidence. It is a belief that is not based on proof.
      On the other hand, those who rely on facts and evidence will not generally be part of your faithful.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Exist

      Since I don't know if you exist, then there is nothing to prove.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  2. Shermski

    I wish I had a logic diagram...

    If God allowed man's inhumanity to unfold, knowing that would be the outcome, then that was God's will.

    There is no ambiguity.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  3. Simple

    Simple, God does not exist.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Brain

      Since I can't see you that you have a brain, then you don't have one.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  4. peacemaker

    God is and was with the victims and s/he is weeping, not only at this avoidable carnage but the diabolical fact that even in its wake there is not even a serious popular demand in our violence-addicted society for serious gun control measures.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  5. Blah Blah Blah

    Asking "where is God?" everytime a tragedy occurs is like asking "where are the barbers?" everytime we see unshaved, ungroomed, men with long hair walking around in our communities, supermarkets, etc., etc...The answer is the same 😉

    July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • ABCD

      Barbers are not required to be omnipresent or omnipotent. God is.

      July 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  6. rad666

    God works in mysterious ways, I've heard.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  7. Dan

    This is not news. CNN, you are an embarrassment to your industry.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  8. dave836

    Wow CNN, way to show professional journalism...

    July 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  9. The Oppossum King

    Would any man profess to know the will or mind of God? What an arrogant fool that would be.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  10. Servant63

    It's a shame that (for many of us) the only time we search for God and want to talk to Him is when a tragedy happens. Then we ask the question "where were you God and why did you let this happen"? Ask a christian and you will get a variety of answers – we live in a fallen world, sometimes God allows things to happen to get our attention, bad things happen to good and bad people, as we move away from God – he removes His hand of protection away from us, etc... As a Christian father I have children of my own who struggle, fall down, and get hurt... It's not so much I allow bad things to happen, but I am there with them to pick them up, love them, and hold them when they do... People ask how can an all knowing, all loving God allow this to happen? I would encourage people to pray and ask God for understanding and peace because you won't find either without Him. God is the only One who knows the answers to these difficult questions and the only father that can bring healing and comfort. Continue to pray for those affected by this terrible/horrific tragedy (family/friends of those who were injured/killed) and pray for the accused and his family.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • phred

      Also, toss in a few prayers to Gandalf. One fictional character is as good as another, go with the best hat.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  11. SomeNameHere

    God only answers the prayers of baseball batters. I know this because I've seen many pro ball players pray just before they bat. About 1/4 the time they actually get a hit. the other 3/4 of the time God is watching synchronized swimming.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Can't Fool Me

      Actually, he also helps black guys score touch downs. I have seen that in action a few times.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  12. OrthoPA

    WOW! I am reading so much disbelief in GOD and Jesus Christ. I truly hope you are all wrong. I refuse to believe we are all nothing more than a random biologic/cosmic "occurrence". Too many things point the other way. With so much disbelief, we won't have to worry about going to hell, we'll already be there... If this is the prevailing human sentiment, we are in deep doo-doo

    July 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • phred

      If it is the prevailing human sentiment, there is hope for us aftrer all.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Refusing to believe in a logical construct and chosing to believe in an explanation that places humans at the center of everything is arrogant.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Can't Fool Me

      @CosmicC, I think the clinical diagnosis is delusional.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  13. 8th E ist

    The ancient Greeks must have asked this question of Zeus numerous times as well. We all know why he "let things happen" now, someday people will say the same about today's fairy tales.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    This is not news. CNN, you're an embarrassment to your industry.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Bob

      I completely agree! What are you doing CNN??!?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • c'mon really?

      God was obviously too busy watching syria ensuring they take good care of their chemical and biological weapons while hundreds of innocent children die.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Jamie

      God was the same place he always is....fantasy land and/or the minds of fiction lovers.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  15. Reverence

    Why does God allow such horrible things to happen? That is something that is not for us to know for we do not have the ability to understand how these dramatic events fall into place in the grand scheme of things. In then end, we all are granted free will and do with it as we wish. Whether the end result is negative or positive, in the end, is up to us. To throw out religion altogether due to one catastrophic and heartless event is still immature in my mind.

    Countless tragedies have happened since the beginning of humanity. There will always be tragedy. Good can not exist without evil. Without necessary tragedies/evil, we would not appreciate the blessing we incur and take for granted on a daily basis. Cherish the ones you love and constantly remind them that you love them on a daily basis. It is not for us to understand or question why these things are allowed to happen, but to only find ways to thrive and stay closer as a community.

    I remember vividly the day of 09/11. After such a tragic event, we as a country were united as a family and were as strong as the day we defeated the British. Any fool can judge his neighbor, however, only the wise chooses to understand his brother.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • 8th E ist

      Or there isn't a god at all. 🙂 Hmmm, I wonder which is more likely.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Can't Fool Me

      Um, believing in an invisible man and his magical son seems immature to me. Aren't made up fairy tales usually discarded by age 10 or so? You should try opening up your mind and use the brain that evolution gave you.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • crashingwaves

      I agree with what you wrote.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • CosmicC

      If you think the colonies were united in thought after the defeat of the British, you need to do some more research. Start with the Federalist Papers and why they were necessary.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  16. Stepton A. Lanmine

    If God heals the sick, cures cancer, etc., why doesn't God heal amputees? What does God have against amputees?

    July 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • steve

      Simply because there is no god. If you've ever seen a 7-year-old child die from leukemia, you will understand there is no god.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Can't Fool Me

      What about the Elephant man or conjoined twins that live lives of misery and pain? Also, why does God seem to pick on the citizens of poor countries where there is little access to medicine? Swell guy, that God.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Pete225

    The fact that there has never been a shred of evidence that any type of supernatural being exists is the best reason not to believe in one. Just like I don't have blind faith in garden fairies, I don't have blind faith in any other magical being. Look at the bible and everything about it suggests it was written by man alone. We didn't know 2000 years ago that the earth was formed 2 billion years before single cell life appeared here, and that life as we know it evolved over 2.4 billion years. The whole God thing is about wishful thinking and indoctrination.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • jimmy23

      well that's interesting. you "know" humans evolved over billions of years, yet, I would guess you havent even existed for 100 yrs, probably far fewer. How do you know man evolved? you obviously didnt see it yourself. you must "believe" something that someone is telling you about this. everyone believes in something. your religion: science? your god: darwin? donno. curious thought. I'm not going to try to stop you from worshiping your own way in your own religion, as bleak and hopeless as it might be. you shouldnt try to force others to give up their beliefs.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  18. MM

    Where was God in the day in and day out loneliness of James Holmes existence, as he spiraled helplessly into insanity? Was God in the college counseling center? What are thier credentials? Where is God in our culture where we live packed in like sardines, yet don't see and don't care about our neighbors? Where, indeed, is God in this country?

    July 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm |

    i have an idea how about when we hear about horrible thing like this we actually do something about it then saying oh i will pray for you!

    July 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Why don't we do something to prevent this sort of thing?
      1) The NRA will fight against any attempt to restrict access to guns.
      2) We don't have a health care system that can help people who need help.
      3) Even if we did, we have a culture that demonizes mental illness rather than finds a way to integrate the mentally ill.
      4) (Going back to point 1) We have a culture that glorifies rather than demonizes conflict resolution through confrontation.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  20. James

    You people need to stop arguing over whether or not God exists, and stop insulting each other. Your mentality is weak and childish. Grow up. Be adults, debate the subject with respect for each others opinions. Non-believers specifically, you guys seem to be the more aggressive group, and you also seem to do more of the insulting. If you don't believe in the "Fairy Tale", that's fine! The millions upon millions that do, however, do not deserve to be ridiculed and lambasted for their BELIEFS. Remember that folks? Respecting diversity, including religious beliefs? PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER, AND ALWAYS WILL BE. ACCEPT IT. If someone's beliefs make you angry or trigger hatred or any other kind of emotion....THAT'S YOUR FAULT! THAT'S YOUR PROBLEM, NOT THEIRS! TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR SELF, AND ASK YOURSELF SOME QUESTIONS. STOP BEING HATEFUL, STOP BEING PATHETIC, STOP BEING CLOSED MINDED, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!! (pun intended)

    July 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm |

      umm religious beliefs have dictated 99% of humanities past and as an atheist i am tired of the destroying the world then blaming the heretics. i am tired of hearing how gays are an abomination and will burn in hell! i am tired of them trying to squash woman's rights. when they say things like you do not believe in my god so you will burn in hell for eternity i think is a little worse than calling some one a name or two. eternity is a long time and an extremely hateful thing to say to some one

      July 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |

      You're the one that should shut up and grow up idiot. It's obvious that there is no god. i have every right to criticize people who believe in a fairy tale. Where is the evidence that he exists. the fact that some people believe that everything was created in a week is just sad. There is nothing saying that he exists so don't get mad at people who question this fairy tale. I understand that people have different beliefs and opinions but this belief is just plain WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Lee S

      spoken like a true self serving "christian" trying to pass the blame and tell other people what to do. The only reason you buy into your prescribed religion is because they promise you access to some exclusive country club in the sky after you die, why else would you "sacrifice" (lol) your life to do "gods" work? Sounds a bit self serving doesnt it? Without life after death what does the church really have?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • 8th E ist

      No, it is time for religion to be mocked and called out for what it is. You know why? Because there are approx 3,000 gods today, and many of the powerful religions and societies kill over their imaginary friend in the sky. It is not my fault only atheists view this in the same light as 2 groups of people killing each other over who is real, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. (Same as any god you pick and just as stupid)

      July 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "You people need to stop arguing over whether or not God exists, and stop insulting each other."
      Why? Do you have any compelling insight, one way or the other?

      You said, "Your mentality is weak and childish. Grow up. Be adults, debate the subject with respect for each others opinions."
      Everyone has a right to hold opinions. The opinions themselves don't automatically deserve the same. For opinions to be respected, they need to have merit.

      You said, "Non-believers specifically, you guys seem to be the more aggressive group, and you also seem to do more of the insulting. If you don't believe in the "Fairy Tale", that's fine! The millions upon millions that do, however, do not deserve to be ridiculed and lambasted for their BELIEFS."
      Would you respect an adult of sane mind who still believes in Santa Claus for his or her beliefs?

      You said, "Remember that folks? Respecting diversity, including religious beliefs? PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER, AND ALWAYS WILL BE. ACCEPT IT."
      Everyone has the absolute right to believe whatever nonsense they feel like. Stupidity isn't illegal (it would help if it were painful, but that's a topic for a different discussion). Everyone also has the right to display their beliefs on a public forum such as this.

      But anyone that shares their beliefs should expect to get questioned on them (especially if they are silly).

      You said, "If someone's beliefs make you angry or trigger hatred or any other kind of emotion."
      No anger or hate. Amusement definitely.

      Good advice, except for the implied claim of existence of a god. You have any evidence to back up such a statement?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Can't Fool Me

      @8th , Actually, I saw the Tooth Fairy when I was a child. He wears tighty whities and has a beer gut.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • UTLonghorn

      James, that was the best comment of the day .

      July 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • crashingwaves

      I agree. I find it amazing how people say they don't believe in God but blame him for every tragedy that happens. The atheist believe in the flying spaghetti monster but I don't speak bad about their God, so why should they speak bad about my God. I never tell anyone their going to hell. God gave us free will to make our own choices and if they refuse to not listen, then that's their choice end of story.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • CosmicC

      I have to agree with James. There is too much discord. If people wish to believe in a god, that's fine. If people wish to believe there is no god, that's fine. If people wish to worship a flying spaghetti monster, ramen.
      We need to respect others' beliefs and treat them as we wish to be treated. That means you get to believe what you want, I get to believe what I want, and NEITHER gets to force their views on another. To use the words of others: "To you be your Way and to me mine" (Koran, sura 109.6) or "You go your way and I'll go mine" (B. Dylan)

      July 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
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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.