Atheism & Religion: The Nones (Advanced Lesson)

ESL/EFL Level: Advanced (C1/C2)
Lesson Topics: religion, atheism, spirituality
Skill Focus: Speaking, Reading, Vocabulary
Approximate Class Time: 2 hours
Lesson Plan Download: atheism-nones-advanced-lesson-102023.docx
Lesson Overview:

  • After warm-up questions, students read a 429-word passage based on a longer report entitled "The Nones" by AP News. The passage discusses atheism in different regions of the world. Note that, overall, the passage presents a negative view of religion; please only use this lesson plan if it is suitable for your students.
  • After a read-and-recall activity, students answer comprehension questions, do a vocabulary-matching activity, and then create questions using the new vocabulary.
  • The first speaking activity is a debate on either the topic of creationism or the overall impact of religious practices. Next, students are presented with two roleplays. The first involves a newcomer who is experiencing culture shock in a religious culture, and the second is about a believer who is beginning to doubt his/her faith.
  • Next, students complete some trivia about religions around the world. Afterward, students discuss philosopher Blaise Pascal's famous 'Wager', and then review some famous quotations related to theism.
  • After a final vocabulary review, the lesson closes with final discussion questions and a review of collocations.

Stained glass windows with religious figures

Caution: Overall, this lesson and the article it summarizes present a critical view of religion. Only use this lesson with students who would be comfortable discussing the disadvantages of theism.

ADVANCED (C1/C2) Lesson Plan on Atheism & Religion

Warm-up Questions

  • Do you come from a religious family?
  • Would you say that your home country is religious?
  • How many religions can you name? Make a list with your partners.
  • Match the below words to their definitions. Then discuss which label best describes you.
1.     theist2.     atheist

3.     agnostic

a.     a person who believes that there is no God

b.     a person who believes in the existence of God or gods

c.     a person who believes it is not possible to know whether God exists or not

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-- Lesson plan on Atheism & Religion written by Matthew Barton of (copyright). ChatGPT was used to check and generate answer keys. Site members may photocopy and edit the file for their classes. Permission is not given to rebrand the lesson, redistribute it on another platform, or sell it as part of commercial course curriculum. For questions, contact the author.

Possible answers to follow-up questions:

  1. Some academics worry that non-religious people might lose an essential source of community connection and support.
  2. Catholic youths in Italy today are less inclined to go to church and view it as an outdated or useless practice.
  3. Federica Nobile distanced herself from the church to overcome the deep-rooted fear of hell that she had been taught in her devout family.
  4. The Tunisian woman likely leads a life where she hides her non-belief or skepticism towards religion to avoid conflict, while potentially expressing her true beliefs only in trusted circles or online communities.
  5. Professor Cohen means that Buddhism does not uphold a belief in a god who created the universe or acts as a savior for humans. Essentially, while it might have spiritual teachings, it doesn't center around a divine creator/savior.

Vocabulary Answers: 1-i, 2-f, 3-h, 4-a, 5-e, 6-b, 7-d, 8-j, 9-c, 10-g

[Trivia answers: Christianity, Hinduism, Francis, Nepal, Tao Te Ching, Torah, Ramadan]

Vocabulary Review Answers: See original passage

Collocation Answers: 1-g, 2-b, 3-f, 4-a, 5-c, 6-d, 7-e


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