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Religious education

It's important not to get sidelined into wacky views that just make religious believers look stupid or extinct. Instead use selections from this material under six groupings.

Key stages 23: people who believe in a real heaven and a real hell, ie literal states (a better word than places of punishment and reward) and why the idea that an after-life can only be described in word pictures - what are some of these pictures trying to convey? What other pictures could believers use?

The possibility that everyone who dies is brought into the presence of God - for some this would be hell, for others heaven - why?

The idea in some religions that heaven and hell start now in this life by the decisions we make or the abuse to which we are subject The link in some religions with belief the justice of God, not only the idea of judgment, but of reversal, that those who suffer in this life will be rewarded and those who oppress will be punished The degree of confidence with which individual believers hold the teachings of their religion on after-life varies - how confident are the children about their views of after-life?

If sceptical children raise the old banana of "proof", as they have every right to do, it's worth plunging them into the dilemma that if the religions can't prove that their beliefs are right, atheists can't prove them wrong. That can lead into deeper exploration of the nature of belief.

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