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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. DylanJames

    We live on one planet circling one of 400 billion stars in one galaxy in a 14.6 billion year old universe full beyond measure of other galaxys. I think that if god exists, he has greater concerns than the death of a few members of a single species passing by in a fraction of a cosmic blink of an eye, if he has concerns at all.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • GOD

      What do you mean "IF"? Don't make me angry.... you know what happens to NON-BELIVERS (Or what I like to call them – Intelligent Humanoids)

      July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • GOD

      Better check your math.... I think there are a lot more you are not counting.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  2. jbg757

    Grow up. These is no supernatural. These is no supernatural "being". Humans are great creators. People have always needed and wanted a gift giver, a helper to get them through the tough world, someone they can ask favors of, some one who will reward them after death. So they created a Big Guy. Unfortunately, he's never there when you really need him, is he?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      No He was exactly there when we needed Him. What we have done with life since is on us.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Bill is right.
      All imaginary friends are there when you need them. They are also powerless to do anything because, well , they are imaginary.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • GOD

      I'm more real than the real world. But less real than dancing with the stars.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  3. pleaseexplain

    The whole world lies in the power of the wicked one. So says the bible. The world chose to direct its own step with no direction from God. So these things will continue to happen. The good and the bad all together and God will not intervene until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled. Does this answer your question?

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

      As your ruler.... I COMMAND YOU to take your crazy PILLS!!!

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

    Both God and evil exist. To deny one is to deny the other. Satan is the great deceiver, putting doubts in your minds and you swallow it hole, like a pill that gives you ecstasy. There is room for faith, but you have to open your heart to it. It was said that it is easy to look at the ground and say there is no God, but how can you look up into the sky and say "There is no God." Try it sometime and you will either not be able to say it, or you will have to force it out. God knows your heart, and will judge it someday...

    But God will not prevent evil and tragedies from happening here on Earth. That isn't his "job". His "job" is whatever he wishes to do. Satan, on the other hand, has a very distinct job. And that is to turn you away from God by any means necessary. So things like this happen, to crush your faith and belief in God. Only those that endure until his son Jesus returns will be saved. Pray that you don't live to see it happen, because there WILL BE much sadness and many more tragedies between now and then...

    July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  5. Andrew

    Did CNN all of a sudden become Fox News? Enough with articles that blatently spark arguments and ignorance from both sides. Stick to the NEWS please.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  6. Omar

    People ask where God was because they don't a.) know Him, and b.) read their bibles. Earth was not the only planet created. It's NOT all about US. Sin is allowed to prove to all created beings that God's law is holy and just. The price of sin needs to be completely displayed in order to do this. Read: why was sin permitted? by Ellen G. White (google it) to get an understanding of the love of God. God wants love from free-will. If you believe in God (by asking this question) then by default you have to believe in Satan. He was casted unto the earth and roams it seeking ways to separate people from God. CNN, you're a foolish Co. that doesn't understand the glory of God.

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

      Glad to see my kool-aid is working.... this makes me happy. :=)

      July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  7. GOD

    Well Well Well... Who needs me anyway. I am just imaginary.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  8. BobPhxville

    Evil must exist to permit the existence of good. How can there be hero's unless there are villains? How there be joy, if there is no sorrow?

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

      How now brown cow?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  9. Fahd

    Where was God in the Aurora massacre? Get over yourself America, 12 people died… go have a look at the ‘World’ section of CNN, it’s sad but it’s really not that big of deal in the grand scheme of things.

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

    Why would cnn have a story like this? I'm done with this crappy news switching to BBC !

    July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  11. Citizen

    To. David G. That was only a movie, made by man.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  12. Monika Aring

    God gave us free will. That includes acts of horror and evil. It's our choice, at any moment as to what we do.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Jeffrey Scott

      There are destructive rouges in any realm, here is one none can make any sense of no matter how hard you try to rationalize. Lock him up throw away the key and cry for all who suffer and endure this tragedy. Nothing could make anyone feel better.

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

    God is everywhere, He created us and gave us "free will." There is also evil, and we have to make a choice. He gave us the 10 commandments. If we don't follow it than we have to face the consequences. How many times do we have to learn the same lessons.

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

      god doesn't exist. you are in a cult called 'christianity'. cults are not good for you. leave the cult. think for yourself.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Bootyfunk! You're slipping. A positive assertion about the nonexistence of God? Turn in your logical atheist card a the next meeting.

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

    Wow. This has to be the most useless, un-newsworthy article I've ever seen on CNN. It is like it is designed to spark debate about a subject that is totally pointless to argue. I guess there is not enough news to talk about the actual event that occurred so you post this?

    July 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  15. this guy

    one way to start a HUGE debate...mention god

    July 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  16. Trevor

    Look, let's be logical and reasonable here.......Santa was busy as well, it happens! God apparently was too busy during the Holocaust also....what does that tell the already logical and reasonable population, ask one of them.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  17. Older Sista

    Over 5000 posts....we could all save a lot of time if we'd just go Amazon.com and buy a 2'nd hand copy of C.S. Lewis The Problem of Pain.
    Probably the best exposition on a completely correct God and a completely messed up mankind, our wonderful and terrible free will and God's refusal to MAKE us behave ourselves. He gave us His rules, His ways, His son, this BEAUTIFUL world that replenishes itself and each other. Why DO we keep screwing up? Where is the perfect blend of mercy and justice? Why won't this God conform to our concepts?

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

      "His Son" wasn't adopted by MEN until 325AD during the Second Council of Nicea by literally a show of hands. Before then, he was just a man. Check your history.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Wonderful book. I have recommended it for years. Atheist seldom read it. It might deconstruct their question which they have som much pride in.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  18. lol@god

    Mankind created god when they did not have a scientific explanation for the sun, the moon, the stars, horrific storms, erupting volcanoes, famine, and things of the like. Remember, it was not too long ago that we still believed the earth was flat, the stun and moon and all the stars went around us, and we were at the center of the universe. If you still believe in god, then you should still believe all of that too. Religion is completely man made. Only a human could come up with such a story that a woman was talked into eating fruit from a magical tree by a talking snake thus granting free will to all mankind. The likes of such a story go on to inform us that we should worship a man that died a couple thousand years ago for starting a riot and then blame an entire other religion for his death when nailing people to a cross was a daily thing in those times; but something was special about this guy... Here's an idea, I'll write a fairy tale and burry it for a few hundred years and you can tell stories of that fairy tale to generations to come until one day someone digs it up and says, "see, it is written, so it therefore must be true."

    July 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Older Sista

      You know nothing Jon Snow. God created man but your eyes are blind to spiritual truth, the ears of your heart are stopped up so you are deaf to truth. Explainging anything to you about Jesus, His Father and their Spirit is like exposing a deaf person to Mozart or trying to explain colors to a blind man. It is exactly as Jesus said, "You have eyes but you don't see...you have ears but you don't hear." And you stand up on your hind legs and slander a Holy God. Jesus said, "You fear those who can destroy your body....better to fear the One who can destroy your body and soul."

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  19. jg

    God only protects His People!!!!

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

      Go stand on the highway and see if you are one of them!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • GOD

      If you look like me, you should be okay. Try it out.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  20. Papa

    "Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money!" ..... George Carlin

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

      papa you are blinded by the devil, pray that God may give you the strength to turn from your wicked ways!!!!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Craboo

      So true

      July 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Adam

      +1 for the immortal George Carlin

      July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • GOD

      I love the shows he gives. I visit him every 1st thrusday for his act down in Haties.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Trevor

      ....and George is correct, because it's logical. Not much of that left in the world today....especially when it comes to the "Gods".....all of them.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Are you still in eighth grade?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Older Sista

      Oh yes, such an amusing man. George Carlin thinks more highly of himself than he ought. Mark Twaine thought he was really clever too. Well God' has invited them but He's not going to drag anybody into His Kingdom....we're all volunteers.

      To muse: to think upon, to ponder, to contemplate, to meditate......

      amuse: the opposite.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Talking Snake

      <3

      July 25, 2012 at 1:51 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.