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. katolungile

    Why does cnn hate god?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      What's a rhetorical question?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • sam

      But who was phone?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  2. David Ellis

    The concept of a deity and the concept of free will cannot co-exist. The premise that a deity knows everything that will ever happen before it happens precludes free will and visa versa.
    You can choose to believe in a deity, but then I think you should consider that this deities greatest sacrifice was its own god-hood, in order to create the universe and give to man the gift of free will.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  3. Frankie D

    God didn't plan the attack in Aurora, but he certainly didn't stop it. How many people, going into that theater believed in God? I'm sure less than a handful. But I'm also sure that many of the survivors will now put their faith in God, seeing as they are lucky to be alive. That is the will of God. That is how God works. Although it wasn't God's plan to send a deranged man to kill innocent people, God used it to draw people that didn't know him, to him. If God wanted to peek his head out of the clouds and show everyone his true glory, he could. But that would defeat the purpose of having faith.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • CS11

      Textbook circular logic

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

      So your version of God is a cruel bas***d who gains followers by condoning and exploiting the suffering, pain, and death of others?


      July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Frankie D

      You reason by the standards of man. I reason by the will of God. There are many ways that God gains followers. God didn't allow this to happen strictly for the purpose of gaining followers, but in a completely terrible and horrific situation, some will find a faith and a path to God, that once probably seemed inevitable.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  4. Shawn

    I find it interesting that when good things happen we ignore God and when bad things happen we blame him. Bad things happen because there are bad people. If you believe in God than time on this earth is extremely brief compared to eternity and ultimately the suffering offers an opportunity to grow closer to God.

    Not to mention that without God there is no justice. This man will spend 80 years in jail, or he will be executed. Neither of which will bring back lost loved ones or help with the suffering of the loved ones who lost family. God however will heal those wounds and allow for an opportunity for these people to look forward to being with that family again someday.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Beautifully said Shawn 🙂

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

      Yeah right, everytime something good happens every nut starts talking about miracles and when something bad happens its gods plan or the devil, get ur facts straight

      July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  5. florida09

    This is why I only believe in science. My belief is there is no god. For all I know the bible was written by a drunk or crazed person. No one will ever convince me other wise. period.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Frankie D

      This is why I believe that you are dumb. My belief is that you have no brain. For all I know, you are a crazy drunk person. Until you write something meaningful, nobody will convince me otherwise.

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

      Amen to that!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • cbowman

      Amen to that Florida09! There is no God. Never was, never will be.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  6. Britt

    Where was God? While on this earth, there is going to be evil...it's a result of the fallen world we live in. But I saw God in the quick response of the police...in the shooter's rifle getting jammed which possibly saved many lives....in the heroic acts and big hearts who rescued others and even gave their own lives to protect...that while we tragically lost 12 beautiful lives, it wasn't as many as it could have been...that the resident of that apt. felt like she shouldn't open that door. That's where I saw God. He didn't cause this but He can use any situation to bring about good out of something that was meant for evil.

    "Even though you planned evil against me, God planned good to come out of it. This was to keep many people alive, as he is doing now." Genesis 50:20

    July 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Kristin

      Amen, Britt. Well said:)

      July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Roger

      I feed chicken feed to the chicken and see them run and fight for the FOOD while I am sitting comfortably on my chair.
      It made me think I stop and see who is in peace around you in this world- the Church, the Govt. Smart people who have made it in this world, who decide what to do with you ( people or chicken) and to you, who feed you with questions so you can fight over them who LAUGH when 90% of people(Babies) have no direction. The one percent have the answers as how to make life miserable for the 99% all around the world.

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

    People put their belief in God in place of believing in themselves. Only we can stop this kind of madness, not God. We ignore the social issues, we allow people to easily get their hands on guns, we ignore people with mental issues, we create a society where malice thrives. We did all this, not God. Until WE decide to fix it, all those waiting for divine intervention will die waiting for a fix.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  8. lolol

    God has abandoned Amerika a loooooong time ago.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • KennyEee

      Not true!! We have abandon God and country!! Come on back everyone!!!

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

      Exactly... the world abandoned God.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • HamsterDancer

      Both of your comments seem to be going under the assumption that because of recent more secular events in education politics or social discourse in America God has turned away and let evil happen. This implies that in the last 50 or so years we've become basically more "godless". This also implies that in "the olden days" when Christianity was more public-ally demonstrated this country was a better place.
      Your assumptions to me seem to be short-sighted on history. What about 200 years of slavery? What about the systematic slaughter of the Native Americans? What about the wholesale deaths of the Civil War? WWI? WWII? The war of 1812? Various plagues that have sweep the country? Children forced work as slave labor? Multiple natural disasters causing massive death? All of these things and many more happened in the so called "Good Ol' Days" when the country was supposedly more Christian.
      It would appear pain and suffering happens in this and other parts of the world to the same degree regardless of the overt Christianity of a populace.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  9. Talking Snake

    Show me the talking snake and I'll show you where god was.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  10. Charley Liberal Dog

    This where being a deism provides the answer. In the beginning God created heaven and earth, wrote the rules of the road, and then said you're on your own.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  11. OOO

    Page 95! WOW!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  12. fastball

    Why is this type of crud on a "news" website?
    Seriously, if you brand yourself as a NEWS website, you shouldn't even ASK questions like that.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • KennyEee


      July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • sam

      This is the belief opinion blog. There just happened to be a link from the front page. But you can be outraged if you like.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Victor L.

      Note the "blog" part of the url. this is the blog section of CNN, not news.
      Please inform and educate yourself. I know its difficult for you religious bigots but please try.


      July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  13. AmLowLife

    It's always funny how god can only do good things. Oooh, look at god's sunset! Ooooh, look at god's mountain vista!

    If there is a god, he/she is responsible for everything, good and evil. It was god's tsunami, god's shooting, god's massacre as well as god's sunset, god's healing, god's life-saving grab.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • KennyEee

      Thats right!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • lolol

      evil is the absence of good. therefore evil is not God.
      but nice try though...

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

      For Man, there is a Heaven, ruled by Jesus, and a Hell, ruled by his brother, Lucifer. Earth is the Mansion given to Lucifer, and you are here to see what type of 'world' that Lucifer provides for Man. – Now, take your pick, and, do what it necessary to prove that you really want what you say you want. You will die and you will be judged, and you will return to this Hell-Hole, or not. Take your pick, and prove your worthiness. God has many Mansions, and not all of them are for Man to live in – some of them have dinosaurs in them, at this time. God doesn't sit on His ass and do nothing – so what do you think He does?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  14. Billy

    It's called "free will"

    July 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  15. KennyEee

    Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people. Everything will be made whole and proper in the end. EVERYTHING will be set straight!!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Roger

      Please consider this ( ask your self this when something BAD happens). Is the person who suffered is a politician, a corporate head, B Gates or any person you know who can afford to be safe you will find disaster strikes only on a poor mans house 99% of the time. The 1% have the money (god) that keeps them safe. Thanks

      July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  16. varun

    Atheism is also a doctrine, a belief, world view and a faith. And may I say - a cult!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Moo

      Atheism is simply the null position, there are no inherent positive claims.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • OOO

      definately not a cult.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Moo

      Not even a faith or doctrine. If you call it a belief, you are dumbing down the meaning of the word "belief" and making it absolutely meaningless.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • sam

      You again? You're as much an idiot today with your little declarations as you were yesterday.

      Athiesm is a religion the same way NOT stamp collecting is a hobby, you tool.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  17. Jules

    Medieval times were probably THE most religious times ever and yet life pretty much sucked for nearly everyone. Pray all you want. If there is a God you are as far from understanding his will as a mosquito is from understanding astrophysics. Good luck.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  18. Islandgrl

    Christianity teaches that we are given free will. If we accept that, then we must accept everything that comes along with that freedom. The Good and the Evil. And we also need to accept that God will not sit there and play the Puppeteer. He lets the chips fall where they may.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Russell

      If God lets the chips fall where they may, then what is the point of praying to God? He/she/it will just ignore you and let the chips fall where they may, correct?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Islandgrl

      Russell – Yes! I don't believe in prayer

      July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  19. common sense

    if you do something right no one will notice anything at all

    July 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  20. varun

    What an opportune moment Gigoff and CNN have picked to attack people's beliefs? Shame!

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

      Beliefs don't deserve respect simply for being beliefs.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:30 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.