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. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  2. Jean-Luc

    Thank you for deleting my completely relevant comment CNN moderators, you bunch of c**k sucking @ssholes.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • palintwit

      As relevant as mine?

      "God was at Chick-fil-A, eating dinner with all the baggers, birthers and other assorted trailer trash that hangs out there."

      July 25, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  3. Tee

    It's believer's & non-believer's alike who believe that God automatically intervenes when tragedies happen & that's not what the bible teaches. It teaches us how to deal with the trials & tribulations that we as humans will face on this earth until Christ returns. When Jesus came to earth his purpose wasn't to bring peace but to teach people about our father Jehovah, follow his righteous ways, forgive, to have salvation & eternal life.

    Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

    Here's the actual interpretation of the scriptures – Jesus is saying that his mission on earth is not to bring about world peace; it is to teach people the way to obtain spiritual salvation (get into heaven). His teaching on the way to obtain spiritual salvation is like a sword because it separates people into those who believe and those who do not. Jesus is saying specifically that his teaching will cut through families like a sword with some family members believing and following Jesus' teaching and other family members rejecting Jesus' teaching.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  4. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  5. Repent

    What right do we have to ask where God is, we kicked him out of our everyday lives out of our schools, goverment then we want him there when things go wrong, If we teach our children about God and to follow his rules when they are young they will not depart fom him when they get older. Lets get back to God and start behaving...

    July 25, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Will

      Let's not because god has made the human race weaker and this planet more violent. It's like a mulligan for the weak minded- this permanent indifference to what happens here and now because there is a magical place for YOU somewhere up in the clouds.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  6. NothingWithoutHim

    This article is disgusting! "It’s a fresh take on an age-old question: Why does God allow suffering, natural disasters or – if you believe in it – evil?" It makes me laugh when the evil people in this world say evil doesn't exist. CNN clearly pushes an evil mindset that neither God, or evil exist. I am sure they want people to live acting upon every impulse of the flesh, they will say it is OK because it is natural, and there is nothing to fear because evil is a false concept and there really is no God! What a bunch of self deluding heathens!

    Where was God during the Aurora incedent? the answer is everywhere, in everything in this universe. The question is so infantile and imature I am in awe of the blatant evil that is CNN!

    July 25, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • The Voice of Reason

      There is no such thing as the invisible man in the sky. Grow up you small minded fool.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • NothingWithoutHim

      You are the one who is small minded, you only believe in what seems reasonable, what you can see. How hard is it to believe only in what you can see? You believe that the entire universe and everything in it came from nothing, for nothing and will be nothing for no reason whatsoever, yet you call me small minded, you are the one who believes foolishly.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Bertram

      @Nothing: You appear to be laboring under the delusion that people are either evil or good, and is simply not the case. The very same man who by all accounts is moral and upstanding has the same capacity for evil as the most wicked among our numbers. I'm just going to assume that psychology is not your forte. To enlighten your mind, I refer you to the following experiments: The Milgram Experiment, and just for good measure The Stanford Prison Experiment. Good day

      July 25, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  7. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  8. JLS

    Where do you think God was CNN? Probably sitting on his a** paving the way for your dumb a** story... Right when you think a news agency couldn't get any stupider there's CNN!

    July 25, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  9. krmcginnis

    This country does not want God to preside over them, judge them or take care of them because they think they can do it better and have more control over their lives and so that is why “groups/individuals” push Him as far out of their life/culture as possible…….then when things go spinning out of control they ask; “Where was/is God” as if He should have intervened on their behalf even though they state they do not want Him or need Him……..please! You can’t have it both ways…….

    July 25, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  10. palintwit

    God was at Chick-fil-A, eating dinner with all the baggers, birthers and other assorted trailer trash that hangs out there.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  11. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Name*Chedar

      In other words, your mind is the creation of what is happening around you. An illusion and impermanent phenomenon

      July 25, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  12. kim

    There are worse things than death. We all will die, some sooner some later. When we die we go to where we came from our real home. This palce is a school some graduate early because they learned what they needed to learn and went home. Some of us learn on a longer time line some never learn. Though its painful for us to lose friends or family, we all will get off the whirl-go-round sooner or later and what we experienced will make a lot of sense then. We need to trust God he is our real father and is involved in our existance second by second he loves us more than we can comprehend we really need to trust him more much more he knows what he's doing.Lose the anger and dis-belief, and life will be a lot more beautifulI know its hard, he can give you the power to change anything in yourself.You planned your life before you came with his direction he telling us what kind of experiences we needed to complete our education but ultimately we signed on agreed to what we negotiated with him.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • JWT

      When you are talking about god please use the correct pronoun – I not the incorrect pronoun – we. Not everyone believes it your version of a god. And your version of a god does not apply to everyone./

      July 25, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • NothingWithoutHim

      Kim's version applies to me! God bless you Kim, keep fighting the good fight!

      July 25, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  13. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  14. dave

    Any basic Christian knows that GOD allows free will. If a man decideds to commit an evil act GOD could prevent that but will not because HE has given us the the free will to choose between right and wrong. It has to be like that. What happened in Aurora was a clear example of man choosing to do evil and serve the devil instead of GOD. It is just the way it is.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Will

      Free will? I thought god had already determined your outcome in a predetermined plan. So this must have been god's design. But it sounds like you're playing pick and choose. What's your favorite type of cool aid?

      July 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • ArthurP


      Either that or mortals have the power to screw with God's plan.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:57 am |

      The Aurora tragedy highlights another terrible incident in which innocent lives were claimed by an evil act just as we have seen time and time again in the middle-east these days. The people that commit these unforgivable atrocities are not doing so with God's blessing or encouragement. It's the devil at his best using these persons to commit these acts of violence that rob good, decent people of their lives and inflict trauma on survivors and their families. I'd venture to say that God intervened when the gun jammed and he couldn't get back in to fire another round.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      An architect drew a plan for a building. Did the builders follow it?

      July 25, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • jon

      This "free will" thing, and "God has a plan", are always nice copouts for the cesspool which has been created called Earth.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  15. JDJ

    Jesus told a story about a tower that fell and killed 18 people. Some folks perhaps thought that the ones who died were evil. Jesus did not agree with this sentiment but instead told these folks to repent, or they would all die. Jesus was getting to the heart of the matter in that everyone must repent of their sin or they will not only die a physical death (which we all must do), but also a spiritual death by being thrown into Hell. Jesus makes a free offer to all for salvation. Will you trust Him today?

    July 25, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Will

      No because that is silly logic. Jesus did not have magical powers to cause a tower to fall. No man has magical powers regardless if it were 2000 years ago or today.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Madtown

      Jesus makes a free offer to all for salvation. Will you trust Him today?
      What about the human beings on this earth who will never hear of Jesus, through no fault of their own? They live in a place where christianity isn't available or practiced. They are not able to trust him. Are they just unlucky, or does God maybe not consider them as special as he considers you, because you've been exposed to christianity?

      July 25, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • JDJ

      Jesus gave no indication that He caused the tower to fall. However, Jesus did (and does) have the power to do all things. While on earth, He healed the lepers, raised the dead, and fed thousands with a boy's lunch. Most importantly, He laid down His life as a sacrifice for everyone. Jesus' point is that the end will come for all of us and that we need to be ready.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  16. Will

    God is imaginary and does not exist. To claim he had planned for something like this to happen is to create a series of justifications and extensive rationale. If you exercise intelligent thought and stop believing what your parents indoctrinated you with as a toddler you will come to an intelligent conclusion.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  17. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  18. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  19. TOMG


    July 25, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Which God??

      So what else did you have for breakfast, Tomg? You sound as mentaly disturbed as some of the others here.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • riamb60

      You really need help, you should see a doctor ASAP

      July 25, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • ArthurP

      I see that some one left the nursing station door unlocked.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  20. ib42

    I am an old man, but my basic question for 65 years remains unanswered.
    Why is god a 'he'?
    Whatever you THINK, every reason we try to find of to comfort ourselves remain theories, formulas, speculation and wishful thinking. We just don't know. We cannot know.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • anne

      ib42 i wish i could adopt you into my family! 😉

      July 25, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Name*Chedar

      Before a being achieve enlightenment or the ultimate reality, that being is suppose to eradicate all sensual pleasure. At that moment when all sensual pleasure is gone, the being is neither a man nor a woman. The being become neutral of any desire. The Gods are still mortal and do not posses the power he or she claim to be.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Will

      Why was jesus the only white guy in the middle east? It's all a creationist explanation derived from within for the weak and feeble minded.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • JDJ

      I am sorry you feel this way. If you have not already done so, ask God to show you the answers to these questions. He is big enough to take on any questions. I use "he" since the Bible refers to God in this manner. An interesting read for you may be the book of Job in the Bible. Hope this helps.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • ArthurP

      Because a woman would not have made such a mess of things.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Who invited me?

      There have been thousands of gods man has created. Some male, some female,beasts of all shapes and sizes.
      God can be male or female...it is up to your imagination, because all gods are imaginary.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      God is a "he" becuase Christianity is rife with misogyny.
      As I Timothy 2:11-14 reminds us, "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."
      "Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die" Ecclesiasticus, 25:19
      Calvin described women as
      "... more guilty than the man, because she was seduced by Satan, and so diverted her husband from obedience to God that she was an instrument of death leading all to perdition. It is necessary that woman recognize this, and that she learn to what she is subjected; and not only against her husband. This is reason enough why today she is placed below and that she bears within her ignominy and shame."

      July 25, 2012 at 10:58 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.