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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. Prail

    Lol – religion.

    Can't believe the stuff I read in this day in age – how deluded these people are is frightening.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • ObamaJOe

      These kids,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,will be fine and strong,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      July 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • E

      agree world just gets dumber and more gullible with every child lobotomized by religious thinking.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Johnny

      Its disturbing how todays bloggers stand up for a world without GOD.... but in the end they die just like everyone else... alone and GOD-less

      July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  2. ObamaJOe

    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • ObamaJOe

      Check ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,if yo are a real Christian,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      July 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Johnny

      Check........ If you are a God Fearing Latino Catholic......

      July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  3. Jen

    Where was God when 12 people died? Was it His will that a 6 year old child should die? There is no God, only organized religion that preys on the weak.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • David1958

      God does exist. Evidence of his existance is everywhere. The fact that you exist, is evidence. I know its hard to see tradegy and suffering, or to experience it ourselves. Just because adversity exist, does not mean God wants it to continue to exist or that he doesnt exist. Thats why Christ, in his model prayer, which some call the 'Lords prayer', or the 'our father', said to pray for 'Gods Kingdom to come, and for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven'. His will, is that suffering cease on the earth. Adversity exist in this system of things, because time has had to go by in order to show that the former angelic son God the bible calls Satan the Devil (which means Opposer and Liar), was lying to Eve, when he told her 'she would be like God, knowing good and bad'. In affect, telling her she didn't need her Creator, that she, being a human, could decide for herself whats right and wrong. God has allowed time to go by, so that lie would become obvious to righteous hearted people. Thousands of years of human misery and suffering, under the infuence of Satan and the demons, have shown Satan to be the liar he is. Of course, Satans primary reason for decieving Eve is because he wanted to be her (and other humans) God, there by setting himself up as a 'rival God' to humans. Of course other angels followed him in his rebellion, the Bible refers to them as demons. Mankinds existance under Satans 'Godship' has been filled with human suffering and death. The 'good news' and the Bible clear message, is that God is not going to allow the suffering to continue.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  4. ObamaJOe

    You guys don't know what is God:)

    July 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • David1958

      @ObamaJOe Its called freedom. Would you rather not have it?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  5. nolimits3333

    God gave Mankind free will.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • ObamaJOe

      Why????????????

      July 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • norman

      free will to believe in him or burn in hellfire for all eternity-ok, that makes sense...

      July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • matt in nw

      free will .. god's got this plan you see... you cant stop it ..alter it .... lol Free Will -more like Double Talk:))

      July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  6. Dday

    Question: everyone seems to agree that this guy was evil (me too), but how do we know that what he did is evil?

    Without God why would we have any idea of ethics? According to Naturalism (the belief that only the natural world exists –Atheism), ethics are a product of evolution which requires an idea called "the survival of the fittest." In essence, this means that "might makes right." If survival of the fittest and might equals right is true, then the shooter was actually stronger than the people in the theatre - and therefore right (at least at first). But, lucky for us, the law showed up and they were even stronger. As a result this guy is in jail and is a bad guy because he wasn't mighty or strong enough to kill people and get away with it.

    You may believe that God does not exist, but then you would also have to believe that there's no such thing as moral evil or good. You may say that it's a product of social evolution over time, but that doesn't answer the question. At some point in the history of the world (regardless of how old the world is) someone somewhere would have had to have an inkling that there was a better way to live (i.e. right and wrong) - where did that inkling come from? God?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • E

      Wrong I am an atheist, know that God is a made up by humans and does not exist.

      yet I know all about morals and ethics and right or wrong

      So you have no idea what your talking about.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why do you believers keep making this silly argument? People who don't believe in a god have morals.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Prail

      Seriously?

      When people decided that working together in socual groups was more beneficial for survival than going at it alone, it doesn't take divine inspiration or inklings to know that stealing from each other, killing, or other behiavours that damage the group as a whole are bad and need to be discouraged. It's freaking common sense.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jeff

      So you are saying that athiests are incapable of being nice? I was raised a christian until I realized that the bible was written by man to control the masses. Religion is thought up because man is afraid of his own mortality as well. Every dead religion died because it was proven wrong by science. All existing religions have been proven wrong as well, they just won't admit it. So I am athiest, but it turns out I am very nice to others.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Thank you, Prail. That was a good explanation.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Dday

      E - of course we have morals now, and no one is saying that someone who doesn't believe in God won't have morals because we've lived in that system for generations. Stealing, murder, etc... has been common sense for a long time - but the question still remains - what gave us the original idea that stealing, murder, etc.... were wrong?

      There are many atheists that are super moral, upstanding, humanitarian, etc... - that's not the argument. The argument is where morality came from in the first place.

      E, Tom, Prail, Jeff - all four of you could be great upstanding people for all I know. This is not an insult to any of you.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  7. Johnny

    Before Jesus showed up, man was left to his own vices. The world was an incredibly messed up with abundant human suffering.

    And today, the world is regressing to that messed up state once again. Where the haves do not welcome the have nots. We mark a line in the sand/ground and tell those of different ethnicities, nationalities, religous beliefs, etc. to "go away". Go starve in your country and die.

    Well, the Aurora tragedy is just that, a tragedy. Where America comes together as a whole, but keeps the outside world at arms distance due to its shortcomings.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      You missed about 2000 years of suffering

      July 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • travisgentry

      Regressing to that messed up state? You apparently have no concept of history or exactly how brutal it is, from the dawn of man to today. You seem to be saying that once Jesus came the world was flowers and sunshine, only now, today, we're reverting back to some dark place. You seem ignorant to all the horrors that have come to pass since Jesus arrived (many done in his name).

      July 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • julie

      "the world has regressed to that stae"; are you suggesting that the 2000 years between the crucification and the Aurora shooting were peaceful and ruled by God fearing Christains who ruked with kindness and compassion? I think you need to review your history a bit and rethink your theory

      July 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Johnny

      What you fail to understand is common. You feel attacking a baseless argument as your, is a way to understand the world as you know it. God is giving us a chance to redeem ourselves. This is our playground and man is destroying it on his own through his choosing. Don't blame god for what happened the past 2000 years. It's something you all fail to comprehend. Man is born condemned, yet he can find eternal life through the word of Gods son Jesus.

      Just get involved and stop blaming God!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  8. sirbrentsworth

    God was where he always resides, in the minds of those feeble enough to believe in him. Yes, that includes the shooter, James Holmes. He was very active in his Presbyterian Church. What happened was a man killed people. It doesn't take a deity for that to occur.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So the story has advanced from "raised in a church going family" to "very active in a Presbyterian church"? Any sources on that?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • EJS

      sirbrentsworth:

      Please take 5 minutes to read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. He was an atheist most of his adult life – and one of the smartest thinkers in human history. What you will find is that there is a "right" and "wrong" or "good" and "evil" and that both proceeded humanity (or this planet for that matter). God is not such a crazy concept, when you consider that 95% of mainstream scientists believe that "all matter" that comprises the known/unknown universe came from a "speck" in space? Where did this "speck" come from? What is space? And what about that area in which the "speck" appeared/existed? Do things just "pop" out of nowhere, or does everything come from something? Sounds like a force (call it God or your own term) above/beyond our comprehension, somehow allowed or initiated the "pop/Big Bang" to occur; otherwise, something (our universe) just came to be out of nothing. I'm too stupid to get my head around the "something" out of "nothing" concept...I'm thinking God (the creative force behind all things, that unfortunately for science is not quantifiable – because he/it is not defined by his creation and/or the limitations/rules of his creation) is making a whole lot of sense to me. Once you get your head around good/evil, then C.S. does an excellent job of explaining God's plan for man (why man?, why not other animals?). Show me where any other form of life on this planet does the things (e.g., good/evil, mathematicial, industrial, medical, etc) that we (humans) do – other animals have intelligence; however they are clearly "lower order" beings relative to us. For some reason, we were provided/developed certain abilities of reason that other animals appear not to possess – with that said, C.S. demonstrates how we are moral beings, and from that concept – he shows where we are bound by a different set of rules than other animals are held. It is an excellent book.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  9. Peter

    We all inherently know killing another human being is wrong.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      No we don't

      July 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • ObamaJOe

      Wrong,,,,,,,,but why ?????????

      July 25, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • matt in nw

      Bill – you are a scary man. one of those that starts out with "if I werent a christian, id be......" – lol

      July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  10. DCBuck

    In a situation like this, it's understandable for people to question why God would allow this to happen. For those of us who are Christians, I think it's because our God is considered a father – in other words, a parent. And, like any good parent, you have to allow your child to make mistakes, make bad choices, and, yes, experience pain, as it's all a part of the growing process and of life on this earth. Imagine if a parent gave their child everything he/she ever wanted; who took away any obstacles he/she might face; and, yes, take away all of the pain. How would that child turn out? Just as a rose bush must be pruned in order to thrive, and just as a piece of glass must be tempered in order to be strong, we must endure trials and pain in order to not only thrive, but also realize the importance of God in our lives.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Paul

      I also think he has written certain laws in our hearts and our conscience and trusts us to do the right thing. Man pays for his wrong doings eventually.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Melanie

      I think you-re crazy to believe what you're writing.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Dale

      So, where does that leave the victims? What mistake were they being allowed to make?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  11. Sean O'Keefe

    Why is anyone allowed to purchase an assault weapon like an AK-47? This is not an attack on the 2nd amendment. I am in support of people having the right to own a hand gun to protect the home, etc. But assault weapons should be outlawed. Society has and will always have people that snap. Allowing them access to these weapons is ridiculous. We need to move past religious discussions (evil vs. God, etc) and start using the common sense that the creator gave us. We have control over our own destiny and we would not want it any other way. Free will is beautiful. It is up to us to change this path we are on. We have to unite and care for each other and put the proper common sense laws in place outlawing assault weapons. America needs to unite and realize that we are all one family that needs to find a new direction. Fearing everyone by buying more guns is only going to make it worse. Almost everyone loses control in one way or another at certain times in their life. When a gun is thrown in the mix the possible outcomes drastically change. If everyone had been armed in that theater do you really think they could have shot the killer through the chaos, tear gas, darkness and bullet proof attire? Let’s get real.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • scoto

      Hi Sean,

      People actually can't easily buy "assault" weapons as the military defines them. That is a weapon that can be switched from semi to full automatic firing mode. The term "assault weapon" is actually made up to describe a semi automatic rifle with bits and pieces added on to make them look like "real" assault rifles. These guns are no more or less dangerous than an ordinary semi-automatic rifle used for hunting. They just LOOK different. This is part of the problem in that the people who make the laws on weapons have no knowledge of weapons at all and make up stupid laws and terms like "assault weapon". I'm not taking sides in this, just saying if you are going to argue with folks like the NRA (who DO know about guns) then we need some expertise on the other side.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  12. God

    I am just wasting time to see what you do with my sceince experment ? Let's talk string theroy you guys are getting close to understanding me. Multiple planes not just Heaven and hell. I just gave you a few so your minds could understand the concept. Multiple planes Multiple worlds to go to based on what you do with this one.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      God wouldn't misspell "theory"

      July 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • God

      His conduit might.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  13. Gabriel

    @Peace2All

    Please see the post here in these forums at exactly 11:02 AM. You may have to scroll back several pages to see it. Much love to you all, and I highly recommend that everyone who sees THIS post practice one random act of kindness, charity, or forgiveness today.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  14. GOD

    I was waiting for this to happen!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Abraham Medina

      This happened that you get to know more about what happens when we forsake God and welcome Satan. It happened most appropirately where violence is glamorized and violent men become heroes. Reminiscent of violent W who assumed the role of SATAN when he created war in Iraq- and murdered just about a million innocent human beings who did not have anything to do with 9-11 or WMDs for lust of power. And we see the wrath of God expressed in our present economic misery and the many acts of violence and evil in schools, sports, Congress and just about everywhere. . America has mocked its founding father's dream of a NATION UNDER GOD and has become a nation that welcomes Satan and his ways. Have we had enough yet?.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  15. TR6

    "The Lord has made all for Himself, yes even the wicked for the day of doom." Proverbs 16:4 (Romans 9:6-24, Psalms 92:5-7)

    "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7)

    GOD ON THE DISABLED –
    And the LORD said unto him, "Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the LORD?" Exodus 4:11 (KJV).

    July 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Da Good Soldier

      @TR6 You are completely taking these scriptures out of context. It is an understandable mistake as religious Christianity has taught us to do that. To fully understand the bible, you must look at scripture in context of the whole bible. Then scriptures like this make sense and will prevent gay people from saying God made them gay or that bad things are God's will. Whenever you translate things from one language to another, the original wording can lose its meaning because the direct translation can mean something entirely different in the translated language. For example Prov 16:4 where it says "yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." In English, it appears to say that God created evil. But when you look at the entire bible, the bible teaches evil comes from free will, not God. So in knowing that, you go back to the hebrew language and understand what the original text meant in Hebrew. In Hebrew, what God is saying is that he has created a day where those who chose to do evil over doing things God way will receive their just reward. God has created a specific day for the wicked, those who practice evil, to be punished for their evil deeds. Now if you don't believe me, then simply read the next verse (Prov 16:5) which says "Everyone that is proud in heart (which is evil) is an abomination to the Lord; though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished."

      July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Da Good Soldier

      @TR6: Concerning Isaiah 45:7, again you have to go back and study the original Hebrew. Languages can have one word with too different meanings. It just depends on how you use it in a sentence. The hebrew word for create is the word " bara' "(Pronounced baw-raw). It means to create. But also has a second meaning which is "qualified to cut down." As you study the bible, you see that evil comes from free will. Therefore this scripture contradicts what Jesus taught about His Father unless we apply the other meaning in the sentence. If you apply "qualified to cut down", the scripture lines up with the rest of the bible – – "I form the light and (am qualifed to cut down) the darkness. I make peace and (am qualified to cut down) evil. Think about it, when you walk into a dark room and turn on the light, what happens to the darkness? It dissappears. If you make peace, you have to cut down evil, not create it. The best way to determine which meaning of the hebrew word applies to a scripture, look at the context in which it is shared. This whole chapter in Isaiah is about freeing the Israelites from captivity using a non-Jew named Cyrus. God is using a Gentile king to rescue His people from captivity (verse 13).

      July 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  16. KiloRooster

    The only place God can be found in the Aurora massacre is in the coming together of hearts, minds, and souls of community. This community was local, state, national, and even international. This love, sympathy (or even empathy), or even a shoulder to cry on all as one is where God is found.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  17. waterman

    If God is willing but unable to rid the world of evil, then he is not omnipotent.
    If God is able but not willing, then he is malevolent.
    If he is both able and willing, whence cometh evil.
    If he is neither willing nor able, why call him God.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  18. Maradonan

    Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?"

    Evil does not "be". It's not like you can look around you, spy evil hiding in a corner, and all of a sudden evil runs up to you and it jumps on you and you have to now do evil things. The heart of man is desperately wicked. Evil exists in the world b/c man does not recognize God or obey him, and chooses instead his own folly and his own wickedness. So God doesn't "allow" evil things to happen in the sense that He is the cause, but He does give Man a free will and in the exercise of that free will, there are no depths to the evil and depravity that man can come up with and carry out. But if God made you obey what He wanted, then you're not a human, you're a puppet and a robot, and that is not the design. Man is evil, and evil exists in the heart of man, not within the heart of God.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  19. Stefano

    Jesus told us there is a God that loves us so much that is letting us free to kill him and kill others.
    We have a choice, and that is to love. If we really truly love... then all other right actions follow.
    Jesus also told us that those who love and believe in him will resurrect to new life after this one as we know it.
    So the question "Where was God in Aurora massacre?" is meaningless to a Christian.
    Those who have suffered and have died living a life of love will resurrect.
    This knowledge may not cancel the pain and grief of those still alive, but will warn those who are willingly denying love that there will be no second chance for them to see God face to face.
    The question is: what it really takes for each of us to love each other as much as God loves us.
    Think about Jesus, and how painfully he suffered death for all of us and you might grasp just a tiny fraction of the love needed from all of us to avoid meaningless massacres.
    We are all fully responsible for the Aurora massacre, not God.
    What we have done to avoid it?
    How shall I live to avoid it?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  20. Dee

    Well it is evident by most posters on here, that they want to be Godless, think they are receiving what they asked for now. He was there I am sure and was grieving right along with the rest of us.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • boocat

      Get real!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:25 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.