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)

    It's not about God. It's about guns. We need real gun control, right now. Nobody will stand up to the NRA. If you're going to sacrifice your children on the altar of the second amendment, go right ahead. Just don't whine about it later.

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

      Once you get them away from all criminals (and positively assure me that they cannot get one) let me know.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      most likely the criminals will steal the guns from people like you.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  2. Bud

    God went with Mitt to the Olympics. Whomever he left in charge is in deep doo-doo.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  3. Casual Observer

    Light necessitates shadows.

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

      Incorrect. I'm tired of the shadow and going to break it.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  4. JIm

    We only want God to intervene in the "big" things but not intervene on us when we do our own little sins. To God sin is sin. He expects us to police ourselves and each other as we love and forgive each other of our wrongs.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  5. Brad

    Jesus talked about a poor begger who had a miserable life. He was sick and poor. He sat outside a rich guys house who refused to help him. Jesus never said that the poor guy was a believer. He never said that He was righteous, only that his life stunk on this earth. Yet when the begger died Jesus said that he was instantly in paradise. What happened in Colorado sucks, but thank God our Father has mercy, especially for those of us who have to go through extreme hardships on this earth.

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

      Did the begger ever try and work ,was he beggin for food or wine

      July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  6. Jon KIng

    Religion is just nonsense invented by scared people.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  7. Edward99

    This incident has nothing to do with God and everything to do with culture and society. Our society revels in violence on TV in comic books and in the movies and games. We glorify violence in the media, give it tons of attention. We are addicted to watching gratuitous violence and supp0ort it over common sense.

    Violence is a part of nature. We are a part of nature. However, we have a brain and the ability to grow beyond what nature hard wired into us. We are capable of self sacrifice, of compassion, of kindness, of tolerance, of gentleness, of pity, of helping others.

    But we do not see these "virtues" glorified in the media. We do not see examples of these things.

    Is it any wonder then, that someone "on the edge" acts out the violence he has seen so glorified.

    We can fix this immediately. All we have to do is stop glorifying violence and harm, and glorify nobility, honor, kindness and respect.

    It doesn't take a religious person or a scientist to figure this out.

    It does take simple common sense.

    We have the choice.

    And for those who believe, that is what Free Will is all about.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  8. scoto

    A REALLY silly article only surpassed by the REALLY REALLY silly postings.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  9. Mike N

    How absolutely horrible of you CNN to post such a question during this time of grief and mourning!!! Can't you let these people be and not start a religious war for your stupid ratings? You make me sick to my stomach!!!

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

      Your side is losing the religious war, thanks to the internet and its ability to get information, and thus education, into the hands of many more people than in the past.

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

      All that self-riteous drama, yet why do I think you'll continue to get all your online news from CNN.com?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  10. sw

    Both the victims and the murderer have stranded away from the true God. That's probably why it had happened.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  11. Ivan

    Answer me this, why whenever a tragedy, man inflicted or natural, do we ask “How G-d could let this happen?” Why is it that no one ever says Satan did this? You cannot have one without the other, you cannot have day without night and you cannot have lightness without darkness. If you believe in giving G-d his credit then you should not forget to give Lucifer his just credit. Satan is the master of deception and stealth, do not forget to acknowledge him as well or he will tap you on your shoulder before you know he’s even behind you.

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

      How is life for you back in that good old 16th century?

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

      If you sell whatever drug you're taking, you'd be a millionaire.

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

      Satan can do nothing without god's permission.

      July 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  12. Papa

    Really !!!!???? you even need to ask such a question as where God was in this ???!!!! If this tragedy did not convince you already, just what act would it take to convince you sheeple of the non-existance of any God ?

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

      you know nothing. refrain from talking.

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

      I know God exists. Death, illness, tragedy, perversion, hatred and all other ills of this world have been brought about by the willful disobedience of one man. Forgiveness, joy, peace, and eternal salvation has been purchased by the absolute obedience of one man, even to death by crucifixion, followed by His ressurection. That is Jesus Christ. Thankfully, I am His.

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

      @lolol: your response is as ridiculous and worthless as your username. And, James,you sound like a non-thinking cultist just blathering quotes from your sect's dogma, completely devoid of any personal thought.

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

      Papa... Its sad to see that you have missed the boat. KT was correct, this is not a debatable topic, you either believe or not. As for me I'm a believer. Just for you I offer the following.. when I die as a believer and find that I was wrong and there is no God, then what happens? Nothing. But when you die as a non-believer and find out that you were wrong, then ..... have a nice day.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  13. metlhed64

    As I believe things to be....God gave the angels free will. He gave Man free will. It is our decision, our choice, whether we act morally with each other, if we truly love each other. There has been evil since Man began. The choice is ours to make. God never wanted people to worship Him because they felt like they must, not like slaves or robots. God wants us to worship Him for all the wondrous things He has given us. Just step outside your door and notice the birds, the butterflies, the sunrise and sunset.....the rise and setting of the moon, the stars that fill the night sky...if you live somewhere that it actually gets dark at night....the wondrous, loving, kind will of God is all around us.....you just have to seek it. The beauty of Nature is just one of the gifts he has given us. Love for one another, Nature, Free Will....make your own decision, and I won't belittle you one way or the other.....I will just continue to believe what I believe....and you are free to agree or disagree....I won't slam you for your beliefs...and don't slam me for mine. We have to learn to love one another, to live with one another, to allow one another to believe or not....there must be peace....

    July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  14. lzrsfx

    This shows that everyone's idea of God is a fantasy that is constantly trying to account for a contradictory reality. Unfortunately.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  15. KT

    Where was God in Aurora Massacre?

    I think God was present. Present in the boys girls, men or women...that made a conscious decision to give up saving themselves, to go try to help save the lives of another human, with no garauntee that their life or the person they were trying to help would live. Some people say any human would try to save a life if given the chance, others counter with specific examples of how they didnt make that choice, for not only selfish reasons.

    Its not really a debatable topic, you're either believe in God or you dont...The world is far from perfect, bad things happen- tragedy happens, no part of the World is perfect...to the people that ask why?...Maybe it is so that your perception of God is that if he exists everything is perfect and has the ultimate control over every situation...thats not my perception of God...if ones perception of God as far as exercising perfection and control is how you EXPECT Him to be BEFORE you can believe that God exists- you will never find him...but then again if you are perfect, maybe you dont want to ruin that.

    God Bless the victims and their families, and the people with the strength along with the strength of God that have the ability to help them through this tragedy.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  16. Sheri Rauck

    The answer is very simple, in order to have good, you have to have bad! God intended it to be this way, otherwise we would all be robots! Have Faith!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  17. Mike

    Why would a news corporation pose this question, with this tragedy and why on Twitter? Shameless.

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

      A news corporation posed this question for a mysterious reason that you are not ready to comprehend until you commit many acts of love and kindness.

      It just so happens that a handful of you on these boards are going to receive some VERY special guidance today. It just so happens that one especially enlightened individual HAPPENED to pop on CNN before taking a nap (this enlightened individual needed a nap because he was exhausted from charitable work) and he is sacrificing his health and sleep for your benefit. That may sound like a coincidence, but where these things are concerned there are NO coincidences.

      This article was posted for a reason you can not comprehend. Go drop donate some money to a homeless person, tell someone you love them, or something else kind, THEN come back and read my replies. Maybe you will get it.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  18. JC

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? 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?”
    ― Epicurus

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

      He gave us free will. The bad comes with the good. What would you rather? That he's a puppet pulling our strings?

      July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Islandgrl

      Correction – Puppeteer – then we would be the puppets

      July 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Cliff

      Trying to convince an unbeliever of why such things happen is a waste of time. Making good use of this question is satisfied by sharing the Gospel, not debate the sovereign will of God. I would suggest that all believers obey God's will and pray for the families of these departed and those that cling to life; that is God's will. You want to please your Lord Jesus, then depart form evil in your own life and seek God's will, God commands it. (2 Chronicles 7:14

      New International Version (NIV)

      14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

      Christian, live your life in such as way that is pleasing to God and the promise will be fulfilled. Quit excepting the notion that we are defeated and can't see these United States of America restored. As you can see, laws and proclamations by the thousand cannot heal this land. It is a mater of the heart. Christian, turn back to the Lord Jesus and shine. Healing will come.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  19. Mike Prather

    God doesn't allow people to suffer..We do. He simply gives us power to choose. There's enough resources around the world to end suffering, pain, evil, and hunger....

    July 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  20. john

    If mankind would accept more responsibility for the lives of those around them and attribute less involvement by some deity, the world might be a better place. The fact that so many respondents here seem to be speaking the mind of God is proof enough of the actual origin of "God."

    July 25, 2012 at 1:32 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.