Gce religious Studies

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Suggested teaching time

8 hours


The Problem of Evil

Topic outline

Suggested teaching and homework activities

Suggested resources

Points to note

The classic theodicy of Irenaeus; how it understands the responsibility or otherwise of God for the existence of evil in the world and the role of human freewill

  • Begin with moderate stretching exercises. Does it hurt? Is it good for them?

  • Read extract from Lance Armstrong’s autobiography where he indicates that having cancer has transformed his life.

  • Link each of the above to Irenaeus’ theodicy. Explain key points.

  • Students use resources to make notes or produce a diagram.

  • ‘It’s not about the bike.’ (Lance Armstrong)

  • Philosophy of Religion for A Level (Jordan, Lockyer & Tate).

  • Students could explore how the theodicy is developed by Hick if time allows.

The strengths and weaknesses of this approach

  • Create a muddled list of strengths and weaknesses of Irenaeus. Students sort into 2 columns. Write personal responses to each point.

  • Philosophy of Religion for A Level (Jordan, Lockyer & Tate).

  • This could be used as an opportunity to model exam technique by showing students how to turn a series of random points into a coherent part b) answer.

Augustine and Irenaeus, critical comparison.

  • Students to produce a table to compare the two theodicies. For each of the key headings consider what does each thinker say, who is better and why.

  • Key Headings could include Freewill, The role of God, the role of evil, the origins of evil, etc.

  • Notes from previous lesson.


  • Transform classroom into courtroom for the case against God. Select 2 able students to be prosecution and defence lawyers. Allow others to cross examine or ask questions.

  • Extract of the film ‘The man who sued God.’ May provide an appropriate stimulus.

Religious Studies H172: Philosophy of Religion G571

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