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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. PlainJane

    Why doesn't anybody ask where is Satan? Why doesn't anybody say "hey we created this world/environment we live in and we have the power to change it". I pray for the families that lost loved ones because I can't even fathom what is would be like if it was my parents or siblings in there. but tto say "allows" or "plans" heinous things HUMANS do wont get us anywhere.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • tony

      All the Christians have prayed for a coupla thousand years now. But just look at the results and judge the value of prayer for yourself. You end up with more generations of praying Christians, but what else???

      July 25, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Plain Jane

      I'm not even a "Christian" but I do believe that thoughts and emotions can be transferred by humans. All I'm saying is that humans created the environment we live in today. Why blame God for something like this.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  2. John Ansell

    I just don't understand how, in the 21st century, in a western country, people still believe in an invisible, all knowing, all powerful deity. Just grow up. There is no such thing.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • just sayin

      It helps the ignorant and weak in our society

      July 25, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Adam

      It all stems from fear. People are afraid of the unknown, thus they create a work of fiction to fill that gap. They pass these beliefs down to their children and fiercely resist anyone popping the bubble of the fictional world that they have created for themselves. Otherwise they would have to face the truth that we just don't have the answers to some of the world's great questions. And that terrifies them.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      HAHA Adam so funny! I don't know a single Christian who is afraid of the unknown. I also know a litany of very intelligent people who have determined that a life of faith is the only logical approach to life.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • tony

      Atheists aren't afraid of the unknown by definition. But if you believe in an afterlife instead, you have to think about that to figure it out.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Jeff

      God says to come to Him like a child so I hope in that regard I never "grow up". The reason why He calls us to that is because the more "grown up" we become, the smarter we think we are. I taught preschool for eight years and trust me children are a lot wiser than adults in many ways. To sum it up: the level of maturity that it takes to follow the God who created us without physically seeing Him, and at times not even feeling Him, is far beyond that of what it takes to claim He isn't real and insult those who know and believe that He is. It has nothing to do with how old you are, just how wise.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  3. Adam

    Times are good, praise god.
    Times are bad, praise god that they aren't worse.
    Times are the worst, praise god in hopes that they get better.

    God gets all of the credit and none of the blame. That's a pretty good setup.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Because everything that is good comes from God who is our loving father.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Bill
      But everything evil also comes from your god
      He is a cruel tormentor

      July 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Bill Deacon

      Because everything that is good comes from God who is our loving father.

      And the shooting was a blessed thing. God Bless the shooter doing God's will.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  4. tony

    I won't worship any gods that cause tsunami massacres of 100,000's of young innocents, even if they supposedly also part the red sea. All adds up to real evidence, there ain't no such animal.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  5. varun

    Shame on Gilgoff for exploiting this horrible tragedy to push his atheistic agenda. Just when we need God most. Shame!

    July 25, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • tony

      Needed , but as always, absent.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Who invited me?

      So you'd be happier if he pushed a religious agenda? Of course you would, hypocrit

      July 25, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • varun

      Why has CNN appointed an atheist as their correspondent on RELIGION? CNN, hello? Have you lost it?

      July 25, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Who invited me?

      varun
      it is the belief section...not religion section...the two are different

      July 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      From the prophet Duane Allman "You can't lose what you never had"

      July 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  6. .

    26 Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.
    27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land. (Book of Mormon, Mosiah, Chapter 29)

    July 25, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • just sayin

      fantasy

      July 25, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  7. Carl

    God is not responsible for the pain and suffering, we are!. And for the Atheists who dont believe there is a God you need to look a little more closely at things around you. You will find you are wrong. Intelligent Design is everywhere. Check the mirror. The human body to way too complex to be created by accident by random particles. lol

    July 25, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Adam

      Your posts and other like it will be in textbooks in 20-30 years as case studies into how out off touch seriously religious people were.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • tony

      Intelligent design thinking just reopens up the old ideas of multiple gods. (lots and lots of design teams are the way men "in gods' image" do it.).

      July 25, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • John Ansell

      Carl, you need to get educated.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Who invited me?

      Just because you cannot understand the science through either lack of intelligence enough to comprehend it, or lack of the mental agility needed to fathom it, doesn't mean that there is anything "intelligently designed". There is no evidence to support this "theory".
      Now go back to practicin yer banjo

      July 25, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Carl: FVck off with your intelligent design crap!! Read a real science book idiot!! In order to make that claim then your imaginary friend must have had a 'designer'...who was the designer of that? Most 8 year olds are more intelligent than you could ever wish to be...they at least have some comprehension of evolution!

      July 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • matt in nw

      @ Carl here come the Eye:)) you seriously need to watch Richard Dawkins on youtube.... he explains all of this waaaay better than i ever could. No buddy..... we are far from optimal.....just a stepping stone along the way...or maybe a dead end if we re not smart enough to pull ourselve back from the brink...getting a handle on our greed, and yes..losing useless garbage like religion would be big first steps toward this.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Plain Jane

      Just a question since I havent read much about atheism, but do atheist believ in consciouness? And if so what is their definition? If so you have to say even atoms are conscious on some level as they create consciou beings. Ive never seen somethin unconscious (Desk, chair, vacuum cleaner, etc.) create something conscious (like a living organism). Again just a question since I don't believe in and all powerful sky wizard I just want to know what people think and gain insight.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Is a cat conscious? Is an ant? The answer is less straight forward than you are painting it. Most would agree that a cat is aware of it's surroundings and to some extent self-aware. Is that not consciuosness? At the ant scale it is much more rudementary but still probably there. By having the most advanced brains on this planet our minds are capable of much broader stretches of cognition but everything points to consciousness as an emergent propety of brains. Thus when the brains dies so too does our consciousness. No gods required.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  8. Jeff

    God promises that if we seek Him with our whole heart than we will find Him. If you really want to know the answer to the question "where was God in Aurora massacre" than put aside your fear, anger, doubt or whatever else is holding you back and ask Him.

    7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
    8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
    9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
    10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
    11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
    12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

    13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
    14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well. (Psalm 139:7-14)

    July 25, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Who invited me?

      What Jeff is trying to say is
      I don't have anything to add so here's a quote from men who lived 2000 years ago.

      Thanks jeff

      July 25, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Jeff's just proving he is incapable of thinking for himself.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Joel

      I think you mean put away reason, science and logic in favor of the blind acceptance as truth of whimsical stories told by Bronze Age nomads living in the Middle East 2,000 years ago. And you want us all to do this in spite of the fact that there is not a shred of actual empirical evidence suggesting the Bible is anything but a collection of myths, most of which are contradicted by one another? Once there, we should pay eternal allegiance to this loving, forgiving God who will, naturally, burn me for eternity if I question his law? Do I have that about right, Jeff?

      How can so many people in this, the space age, be so profoundly naive?

      July 25, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Jeff

      Why does quoting the bible upset you so much? Ask yourself this question. Or better yet, as my first email challenges, ask God. Thou "doth protest too much"... (Hopefully this quote is less offensive).

      July 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  9. fluke300

    Tell me the story of how God was denied his fruity cereal.
    Oh wait, that was the Trix Rabbit.
    Im sorry, I get them confused....because they're both fake...

    July 25, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  10. DeanB

    What a sad question. God is where He has always been. Society has pushed God out of the picture for so long...school, public, holidays, etc. He is where He has always been and He is waiting for anyone to seek Him. A relationship with God is a two way street. If you do not seek Him and have a desire to know Him, then there is a void. You are to seek God at all times, not just when things are tough, scary or unpredictable. You seek Him and give Him thanks and praise for the good and positive things in your life and you seek Him in times of trouble and distress for comfort and direction, but it has to be each and every day. Luke 10:27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • just sayin

      So says men

      July 25, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      DeanB: Incapable of thinking for yourself? You know that computer and the internet you use were designed by Atheists, not christards...best get back to your cave now and let the people who are capable of thinking for themselves and the rest of you, to run things.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  11. Genold

    Where was God? He wasn't in that theater assuring the safety of innocent people.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • chetansgamm

      Does that mean He wasn't on the battlefield with our soldiers either or ignoring the other disasters that have happened? That is absurd. God doesn't control what happens here on earth. He lets man make his own decisions, however preposterous they may be. He never said life would be a bowl of cherries, He just promised to be there when we call on Him!!!! Somewhere, we, as humans must take responsibility for the actions of people here. We can't control others anymore than they can control us. Wake up folks!!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Genold

      God is nowhere, on no battlefield, and frankly doesn't exist.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • matt in nw

      @chet Its all a scam, people that want the masses under their thumb...that is all.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  12. NothingWithoutHim

    Where is CNN as Obama destroys the United States Of America? Oh thats right, they cover his *ss!

    July 25, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Genold

      Wrong story!

      July 25, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      OK then.
      So this tragedy is Obama's fault?
      It must be because he's a muslim.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • matt in nw

      give it up ...cant we have one bloody article with some bozo dragging unrelated political garbage ito it....

      July 25, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • ArthurP

      Obama is not responsible it is God's retribution for his teachings being corrupted by Fundamentalist dogma.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      The only thing annoying about Obama is he pretends to be religious. I do not think he is truly a believer, he is too smart for that.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • NothingWithoutHim

      Oh come on, everyone knows the CNN belief blog is just an athiest circle jerk! Might as well have some fun with the web space! CNN doesn't want people to believe in God or good and evil, just moral relativism so you can sooth your conscious while you are doing your dirt, its ok nothing really matters anyway right? Just go back to your fornication, sodomy and greedy self gradification, nothing to see here!

      July 25, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • tony

      What a terrible problem for red-necks to have to publicly deal with! America's blackest president turns out to be one of America's best presidents. And the Republican are shown up to be really saboteurs of the American Dream and its people.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • The Asian Atheist

      Yeah they totally thought the black guy would just ruin everything. Except the Texan before him already tried that.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      NothingWithoutHim: No real human will have you, will they? How about you keep your opinion of other peoples personal life to yourself and not try to impose your imaginary friend and its arch enemy on others?

      July 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • matt in nw

      @ A.A. he had to:) an Atheist has 0 chance of election....

      July 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  13. Dave

    You wont find God in the destruction. You will find him in the small still voice that remains after

    July 25, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Genold

      That small voice was a six year old who died from a gunshot wound that God did not prevent.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • jamie

      AMEN!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • NothingWithoutHim

      Hey Genold, you have the power to stop starving children from dying, all you have to do is donate all the money you do not need for subsistence survival to ChildFund, where are you????????? Why won't you???????????

      July 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  14. ALAN

    We seek the unknown, so we create a god. We can't understand why this god does not work quite as planned, so we create faith. As long as we organize our lives around a fantastic myth, we will remain confused. It is so clear; this evil act is one guys desire to act out a sick fantasy. Eighty percent of Americans choose to organize ourselves and government around myths instead of seeing the universe for its truths. We should not be too surprised when these tragedies occur.

    God is a myth. Miracles coincidence. Religion blinds us on how to pass reasonable and rational laws and plan for the future.

    The proof is in the news every day. Free yourself. Dump the notion of a god. I did years ago and you can too. Really, nothing on day two will change except you will feel smarter and know that you have crossed over to rational truth.

    Carl Sagan said it so well:

    It is far better to grasp the universe as it really
    is than to persist in delusion, however
    satisfying and reassuring.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • jamie

      Hey Alan, Are you sure that God is a myth? 100% sure?

      July 25, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Tom

      Alan, I feel just the opposite. The closer I get to God the smarter and wiser I feel. I start to understand that it is not just happenstance that 1 trillion cells could form together billions of times over and over to form a uniqued human being. There is evil in the world, because there is sin in the world. We as humans feel that we are in control of this world and there are more and more like you that have turned away from God. Just remember, Alan, that just because you have abandoned God at this time, does not mean he will ever abandon you, as he loves you with everything he has.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  15. Cecilia

    Very simple answer. There is no such thing as magic, unicorns, gods, ghosts, etc. Life is beautiful and precious and amazing, and this is it. There is nothing after death, so we need to embrace every moment and live life to it's fullest.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Genold

      Well said. Finally some sanity.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      Yeah I remember when I truly believed in those things. Then I recognized my dad's hand writing on the gifts. Then it all made sense! Now my brain cannot operate in that realm of fantasy in the same way that the faithful do.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      How well do you think Jesus did in embracing life to the fullest?

      July 25, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Cecilia: Well said...thank you for bringing some rationality to this page. Peace 🙂

      July 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  16. Peter

    Assuming there is a god (and IT may not be yours), IT is power incarnate, manages an infinite universe, and we humans are the evolutionary equivalent of a single cell organism; IT would likely not care about a lunatic entering a theatre and killing people. As awful as the event is on a human-scale, on a cosmic one it is of little consequence to a being of incalculable power. We have got to stop associating every awful or glorious event with the will of god. We are talking about calamities occurring on a cosmic-scale every human-day, impacting thousands, if not, millions, or billions of planets and galaxies. Some with complex life-forms and you think a single lunatic entering a theatre suddenly draws the uninterrupted attention of a god? You are the same people who think a touchdown, or home run draws his attention as well, right? Yes, you are the same people, who tell your kids that super heroes, monsters and magic don't exist, but miracles, parting seas, talking snakes, devils, and demons do. Do me one favor, at least remain consistent and next time your kid asks if Superman and the Avengers exist, just say yes. Otherwise, if you are going to believe in a god, add a bit of logic to the recipe.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • .

      39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Pearl of Great Price, Moses, Chapter 1)

      July 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  17. Maccabeus24

    God gave us everything we need to avoid such tragedies: each other. We are what is lacking in vigilence, care, and determination, not God.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  18. Paul

    I can say this, I have watched many people on their death bed and everyone of them talked about God! You can also bet many people were crying out to Him during that dreadful time in Colorado. Somethings we will never understand.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • tony

      But by Golly, religious people keep saying they "know" the answers.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "There are no atheists in foxholes" is a contemptible lie.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      Yeah they are certain of it. Me, I am a fan of doubt.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      @ Doc Vestibule
      Yeah I deployed to Afghanistan, and I sure as hell don't believe in god. Sure does not help those that do believe. Pretty sure a number of the faithful have been killed.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  19. Jonathan

    Where was god? 1) watching and powerless to do anything to stop it. 2) watching and did nothing because he is evil. 3) he doesn't exist. ..........pick one. Any other explination is a "bending of the bracket" to make it fit. To say that your god would allow this is a prime example of what is wrong with religion and why it is poision to all humans. A beliver will say, "god's way, his will, his decisions, what he does and what he allows....is ALL HOLY. " This brainwashed view is used as the justification for all religious violence and oppression and hatred and predjuduce. To say that a god would allow this shooting spree, for any reason. is SICK. It is mental illness atempting to explain the actions of mental illness. As pretty and peaceful as one thinks their religion is, the delusion of that belief constricts, manipulates and blinds believers to do, say and teach delusion and dysfunction.....and they can't see it.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  20. TJ

    If any god who might exist had the power to stop such an atrocity, but did not, how can he not be looked at as an accessory to it? In which case, is he really a god worth anybody's worship? And if a god exists which simply did not possess the power to stop such an atrocity, again....is he really a god worth anybody's worship? How is either classified as 'god-like'?

    July 25, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • The Asian Atheist

      This guy killed a dozen people. While tragic, it pales in comparison to the indonesian tsunami, where over 100,000 people died. And yet god still was not present. The holocaust? No help from god there. The religious say god is waiting for the right time. If he does exist, which he likely does not, then his criteria must be mathematical. He must be waiting for a higher body count.

      July 25, 2012 at 11:51 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.