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. Jeez

    Why does everyone refer to this as the Christian God? Jews wonder the same thing (that's where you got God from anyway). There is a great book called "Why bad things happen to good people" written by a jewish man named Harold Kushner. All you Christians, put down the Bible as there are other books out there and pick it up and read something else.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Harleyxx

      The Jews were rejected as a nation along with their form of worship. They had their chance and lost it when they rejected Christ. Individuals of Jewish background can still be saved if they become Christians, but there is no hope for the nations as a whole.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  2. lamard

    Question? Where were the police?
    Answer: policing black neighborhoods

    July 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Anonymous

      You obviously have never been to Aurora, Colorado. The area around this mall IS a black neighborhood. The mall has a reputation for black gangs and is considered by many local residents to be one of the most dangerous (probably THE most dangerous) in the Denver-metro area. But Hispanics make up the largest ethnic population of Denver, so trying to make this a white/black argument probably won't get you far.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  3. Paul

    @ James "Stop being pathetic." Yeah, you're not biased. LOL.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  4. Andre

    This is another result of a fallen world. God has given the Enemy authority over this world until His return. God's grace and mercy was present in the fact that all the grenades and other weaponry were still at the man's home and not with him. The use of a grenades and/or a bomb, in addition to the bullets already used, would have increased the body count. Of course, it would be optimal to live in a world without violence, or suffering, but that is not the reality of this world.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  5. bzonline123

    Why does God allow suffering, natural disasters or – if you believe in it – evil? The answer is so simple, how come nobody understand?

    July 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  6. Travis Patterson

    I am reminded of the ancient Scripture where God says He "Takes NO delight in the death of the wicked" (Ezekiel 33:11) So how could He take any pleasure in the death of innocent people? He chose not to intervene in His own Son's death so we could be with Him forever. Our reaction to tragedies like this either push us closer to or further away from the only One who truly can destroy evil once and for all! I am so glad our God is bigger than our reasonings. If we could understand His every action or seemingly "passive" response in our current sinful state, would He still be God? We will understand one day (I Cor 13)...

    July 24, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  7. mike

    Blah Blah Blah

    July 24, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  8. God

    Give me a break, I was out grocery shopping.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Will Robison


      July 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • God help those who do not help themselves

      I am going to watch Dark Knight Rises in Riverside, California @ Tyler mall ,AMC 8:50 PM
      Please be there..Please!!! 🙂

      July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Matthew

      My heart breaks that you would lower God to that level.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  9. kevin

    God is in the same place as the tooth fairy, santa claus, easter bunny, and all the other supernatural beings that man has creatively invented. The fact is...you'll have the same results praying to a milk carton as to any God. Mankind needs to belly-up to the realization that we are on our own in this world – and no God is going to be bailing us out or saving our butts. We need to do it ourselves.

    I am so perplexed how seemingly otherwise intelligent people don't see the obvious. Why do kids eventually see past the santa story, yet many adults never see past the Jesus yarns in the bible?

    Contrary to popular opinion, Einstein was actually an atheist but still used the generic term GOD in some of his writings as an "anthropomorphized" way of referring to the "laws of nature". Check my facts on this....

    Regarding this incident – it is truly a huge tragedy and there is nothing good about it. I really feel for the families.

    However, It is a total waste of taxpayer money to spend millions of dollars and years of lawyer's time to create an extended trial for this killer. Sane or not....he cannot be trusted in society ever again and has wreaked unfathomable pain for no reason. He should be given a prompt, fair trail and when his guilt is confirmed – eliminate these genes permanently from the planet. This approach should be taken for ALL VIOLENT CRIME...and it eventually should start making a difference. Instead – why not spend these millions for grief counseling of the victims and their families – this would actually be a productive use of resources vs. paying a bunch of lawyers to argue the obvious.

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

      I could not agree more, I stop believing in Santa a long time ago.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • God is dead

      Kevin, I couldn't have said it better. If there was a "God", wouldn't there be one God, one version, why do we have so many Gods, so many religions? What about the people in remote parts of countries (the amazon) that don't know about "God", are they going to hell? What a crock, God is man made, the natural want for man to cry out to someone when things go wrong and to thank when they go right. Don't you think that maybe the Bible was just a good book written by a good author? Man has been writing books since the dawn of time. Don't give me this free will crap either, the man was crazy, he had no free will. Any yes, change the laws, execute this man this week, he's guilty without a doubt, I don't want my taxpayer $ wasted on this p.o.s. to keep him alive until he dies in a jail cell. Wake up America.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Matthew

      I've gotten things that I needed before I even prayed, because God knew what I needed before I asked him, just as the Scriptures said.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  10. independent

    Instead of asking 'Where was God in the Aurura Massacre?', why not ask, 'where was God in the people of Aurura?' Aren't both valid yet different questions?

    Our belief in God leads us to accept the following, though painful scenarios: 1) The People of Aurura are close to God and he/she delieverd this awful pain to teach, to test, to strengthen, the believers, 2) The People of Aurura have not kept close to God, and he/she has delivered this pain to teach, to remind, to test, the weak believers how have strayed, 3) God knows the faithful will remain faithful and accept this awful pain as part of his/her plan to do either 1 or 2, or 3) shake the non-believers into asking themselves about the merits of their non-faith, and finally, there is a 4) there is no God and this was random.

    Some will accept the latter, I do not. There is a plan and this awful pain plays some part in it. I don't understand it, but I accept that there is much that I do not understand.

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

      Google the word "Red Herring" as a logical fallacy, then consider a repost that addresses the original question.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  11. Rich

    God? yea right..........just sayin...

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

      God is real. You choose not to believe in him? Fine. That doesn't mean he isn't real. Of course you won't take me at my word because to you I'm an idiot who believes in something akin to the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. I don't care. Insult me if you want. God will judge everyone when the time is right.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      And on what grounds? Will he judge on acts or on what you have faith in?

      July 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  12. Nathan Prophet


    July 24, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  13. G

    god doesn't exist, don't put religious bs on a news website, religion is for people stuck in the 12th century.

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

      God exists. Just saying.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  14. Charlie Gregory

    No more does God desire a bunch or automatons who follow him blindly, and you do not wish to be an automaton, rather He gives us Free Will, to choose, in this case this man chose poorly, and He Weeps! Weeps as deeply as he does each time we turn to our evil nature and away from our Godly nature, we pursue byt emulating the life of His Son. God was right there allowing the choices of this terrible act to wreck it's consequences, and He was there to welcome home his children during this unfortunate time, and He is right there rejoicing when somone chooses good over evil. God is not absent, he is there and ready for a relationship with you throught Jesus Christ, when you are ready, but it is all your choice.

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

      Maybe next time you see God weeping, snap a photo to prove you know that for certain.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  15. Jerry

    It's simple there is no GOD!!! The belief of GOD is for the weak minded.

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

      I think the weak minded just spoke

      July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Matthew

      It takes greater mental toughness to have faith than it takes to only believe in what can be quantifiably proved. Christian are anything but weak-minded.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      LOL Toughness required for blind faith? Oh boy now that is funny!

      July 25, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
  16. Rebecca

    God allows tragedies for people to learn compassion so that we learn to feel compassion towards others who are hurting so we can step up and help one another. And I think He wants tragedies so we can teach our children right from wrong and to prevent things like this. Without compassion our world would be worse off then it is now. So for the man who said God doesnt exist you are wrong he teaches us hard learned lessons so we can learn from our past and make our future better and to help others when they are in need of it. I think you are insensitive to all the victims by posting that comment because right now those who survived are realizing that some of their problems are minor compare to what can be. Its to show us life is to short to always be hateful, angry, and full of rage like the man who did the shooting. Had he let his problems go instead of building them up this would have been avoided.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Nathan Prophet

      So by your thinking, God said, "Hmm, I think Rebecca needs a refresher course in compassion. I think I'll allow 12 people to be murdered including a 6 year old child just so Rebecca and a few others that I'll permit to remain living learn a little compassion." How self-serving can you get?! Perhaps you will be God's teaching method next time.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  17. God help those who do not help themselves

    god gave us "free will" to kill freely and then he has power to free us from our sins but the twist is..he will free us only if ,we the humans, pray to him with "free will" and then in return, god will be happy to see the "free will" and then again we will be free and go out and kill freely
    it doesn't make sense to me at all.."free will"

    July 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  18. Sean Carroll

    Also, for those who say there is no God, any judgment of morality in this case is impossible. If truth is relative and instated by man, than any man is free to define what is right and wrong for himself.

    God judges evil, and He does not rejoice in it (Proverbs 24:17-18). Even more he gave us all freewill, because love that is pre-programmed isn't love it's a function. All people have a choice to love or hate, to believe or disbelieve. God has given grace, and offers it freely, many reject the free gift because they don't want to accept the truth for who they are. Like in this case, it is easy to say that what James Holmes did was easy. But is it the same to say the killing of civilians by the government in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan is evil? Is it evil to stretch the truth on your resume? At what level does evil not become evil to a moral relativist, or an atheist?

    The point is as John wrote, God is love. In Him is no evil. He loves His creation, and weeps for those who deny Him, and commit horrible evils on earth. But there is forgiveness and redemption at the cross. Jesus took it all, and He loves ALL people regardless of who they are, and what they have done. God wants to have a relationship with us, He as jealous for us as possible. He burns with a fire of love for us. If we would just accept Him, and turn to Him we would see.

    In something like this, like I said earlier God was in that theater, and saw what James Holmes chose to do, because James Holmes chose hate over love.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Charlie Gregory


      July 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Nathan Prophet

      Your response is hard to stomach You can't be serious. Please, for your own sake and the sake of those withing your sphere of influence, learn how to think. Quoting the Bible or any other set of ancient manuscripts is not thinking; it is parroting mythology.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Don Hoe

      Reminds me of an old quote by Epicurus.
      Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able to? Then he is not omnipotent.
      Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
      Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
      Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god ?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Matthew

      Another solid post, Sean. I consider you a fellow man of God.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  19. Roomie Rob

    No such thing as divine intervention of any sort. The only intervention that battled against the evil that occured in that theatre was when people risked their lives to save the innocent. THAT right there was the only miracle or "divine" thing that I will acknowledge.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Nathan Prophet

      You have it right, Rob.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Matthew

      But does that prove God doesn't exist, because he chose not to intervene? Hardly.

      July 25, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  20. Anony Mus

    The real Problem -Guns given out like candy to any and all individuals. The real Problem – The uncurved violence The real Problem – the prozac generation The real Problem – humans isolated from each other by technology The real Problem – humans deny the existance of our creator Jah and the love he teaches Before you point your finger remember four point back at you –

    July 24, 2012 at 4:46 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.