GP Comprehension Paper – Religion & Humanity

General Paper Comprehension Sample Question Paper & Answers (Paper 2)

GP Comprehension Question Paper – Religion & Humanity

(Note that 15 marks out of 50 will be awarded for your language, namely, for the quality and accuracy of your use of English throughout this paper)

Note: When a question asks for an answer IN YOUR OWN WORDS AS FAR AS POSSIBLE (IYOWAFAP) and you select the appropriate material from the passage for your answer, you still must use your own words to express it. Little credit (out of the remaining 15 marks) can be given to answers, which only copy words or phrases from the passage.


Passage A

1. (From paragraph 1) Atkins describes two differences between the answers that science and religion provide to explain the world。 State one of these differences. [1]

Scientific answers can be understood within our own lifetime,
whereas religious explanations can only be fully understood after we die


Science admits its answers are uncertain open to questionable / liable to be revised
whereas religion claims its answers are complete / definite / unchangeable even if circumstances change


Science is credible because it is logical, rational
Whereas religion is based on unfounded hope and faith



2. What is the one location in the universe that Atkins refers to in line 25?





3. (From paragraph 3)  The interviewer concludes that Atkins sees ‘no underlying purpose to the universe (1, 29). What does Atkins say that leads the interviewer to draw this conclusion? [1]


The universe will end, leaving no trace of its existence or human accomplishments

Atkins believes that the universe and life came into spontaneous existence, without any divine or external plan / by pure chance.

The general point that the universe began spontaneously and functions by a series of scientific causes and effects, with no particular blueprint or architect.



4. (From paragraph 4)  Alkins says it may be possible to save a few nonexistent souls (l.39-40).

4a) State what he wants to save them from. [1]

Save their hopes / dreams / ambitions / aims in life from being suppressed / oppressed / limited / destroyed by religious teachings 
(save them from the maiming, repressive effect of religious belief on human aspiration)


4b) In what way is Atkins being intentionally ironical in this statement? [2]


b) Atkins is an atheist who does not believe in spiritual salvation or an afterlife, yet he claims to want to save the souls of the religious. The irony lies in his intended contrast between his belief and his using the vocabulary / rhetoric of religion.

The word “nonexistent shows Atkins intentional irony as it draws attention to the fact that he does not believe in souls.


General Paper tutor’s notes; 1 mark for explaining the irony, and 1 mark for being intentional.


5. (From paragraph 5)  The author uses metaphor (a type of comparison) to make his ideas more vivid.

5a) How does the metaphor in Line 50 serve to convey Atkin’s view of the relationship between religion and the arts?

Hijacked compares religions actions to those of terrorists as art has been taken hostage by religion. This appropriately conveys the idea that the arts were not originally created to become a vehicle for religion,

but religion has re-routed and redirected misused / abused / misappropriated the arts order to promote religious beliefs as it wishes, without the right to do so in order to promote religious beliefs.


5(b) How effective is the metaphor Atkins uses to describe the relationship between science and ignorance in L53? [2]

The metaphor is effective because: “Green shoot implies that early science was full of promise, having begun as a young plant with potential to eventually develop and prove useful to man’s existence.
“Dung of ignorance” implies that, while lack of knowledge by Itself is as undesirable as waste matter, this lack actually nourished science. Effectively conveys idea that if man had not been seeking answers, he would not have turned to science at all.


The metaphor is ineffective / inappropriate. While dung can nourish plants, lack of knowledge and information is totally useless and cannot be said to nurture or nourish knowledge.


[Reminder; GP teachers will look for your interpretation and give a corresponding impression mark.]


6 According to Atkins, why did scientists in the past profess to follow a religion, and why do some scientist embrace religion today? Answer each part in a separate paragraph. UYOWAFAP. [3]


In the past, some scientists professed belief in religion to escape persecution from religious authorities and a society that did not support scientific enterprise  / antagonistic towards science.

Other scientists may have genuinely believed in religion as a source of answers to man’s questions about life and the world as science was not yet developed enough to satisfy his queries.

For some, it was just a result of cultural conditioning


purported to be believers, aspect of self-preservation in the face of hostile cultural environment 

dung of ignorance

unable to detach themselves from their upbringing



Next paragraph:
Today’s scientists who are influenced by religion are unable to cope with tragedy in their own life

They are confused / bewildered by life

Cultural conditioning

They are deranged


overwhelmed by some personal trauma



gone slightly mad



Passage B

7. (From Para 2) Why is it necessary for Christians to explain the existence of pervasive and enduring human suffering, and how do they do it? UYOWAFAP. [2]

The Christian view of God is one who is caring / does not want people to undergo hardship.

God is also seen as all powerful (which implies that suffering is caused by or preventable by God).

But these two views of God are inconsistent / incompatible contradictory, hence the need to explain the presence of suffering.


Christians attribute much distress and pain directly to human undertakings, not God’s will/action



loving and omnipotent

action… war, violence etc Obviously some…some result of human



H1 JC GP Passages – Article Sources for Religion & Humanity

JC H1 GP Tuition (Syllabus Code: 8807)
Source of GP Passages:
There is no God By Peter Atkins, The World & I, May 2001
We are God’s creatures By The World & I, March and April 2001


Q8. Vocabulary Question (5 marks)
Passage B only:

Word1 Mark 1/2 Mark
conceptualised (L1) (verb)formulated, conceived of, thought of, apprehended, perceived


No mark: having an idea


determined (16) (adj)decided, resolved, established, fixed

planned before hand

No mark: resolute, firm, purposeful


enduring (L12) (ad)everlasting, always present, perpetual, eternal, perennial, persistent, endless, continuing


No mark: lasting



unequivocal (L15) (adj)explicit definite, unambiguous, absolute,


No mark: without doubt


governing (L19) (verb)controlling, regulating, determining



No mark: restricting



GP teacher’s comments: Some adjectives cannot be applied to a course of action!


Q9. Summary Question (SQ) (8 marks)
(From paragraphs 3 to 6)

Hindu and Christian scientists find that it is possible to hold to both their scientific principles as well as their religious beliefs” (l.33-34).
Explain why this is so in not more than 150 words. UYOWAFAP. [8]



Our universe may have… might be (l.17-18). keep an open mind to entertain new creation stories (l24)

many creation stories in the Hindu mythologies (l.22)

quantum fluctuation, cosmic application..multiverse (l18)


God…creator…earth, universe…

absolutely nothing (l.15)

Creation (Hindu) Hinduism allows for various possible and updated scientific explanations for the origin of the universe, just as there are several tentative scientific theories about the origins of the universe.

OR Hinduism has no fixed doctrine about how the world was created, and this allows for new scientific theories without conflicting with the religion.

Implied: As scientific laws are non-permanent, any apparent conflict with religion may merely be temporary 1

The Hindu view of many universes / worlds coexisting coincides with science’s quantum fluctuation principle.


Creation (Christian) The Christian view that God created the world out of a vold coincides in large measure with the scientific view of the universe resulting simply from a quantum fluctuation.


Darwin’s theory…mind-like substance… (l.34)

monotheistic tradition. working out of God’s plan (l. 36)

Evolution (Hindu) Hindu view of the physical world as having emanated from a distinct consciousness has a satisfactory degree of similarity to scientific theories of development of complex life forms from simple ones.

Evolution (Christian) Christianity sees the scientific theory of evolution as an explanation of how God worked to achieve His plans, not as a contradiction of the religious view that God is the original Creator.


scientific enterprise…no means to observe 90 %…limitations to a view of reality (L.26)

Questions about origins and creation not as important as understanding meaning of life and reality (l.38) Conflicts only arise when. (I.44)

Limitations of Science Science recognises its own limitations in being unable to explain most of the universe and, by Implication, being to disprove a religious explanation. This allows for the possibility of other explanations of reality, including the religious.

Territorial boundaries Even if Hindu & Christianity views of the world do not fit exactly with scientific explanations, religion is not undermined as the focus is on metaphysical and spiritual concerns.

Disagreement occurs only when either religion or science attempt to supplant the other.


underlying assumption of scientific research.. order in the universe..  discover it (l40)


Overall religious view of science Scientific inquiry fits in with both H & C beliefs that the universe is arranged in some rational pattern and it is not forbidden by religion to trace this pattern.

Note: Time management is important for success in the summary question!
Reminder: it is a good practice to write down the number of words used.



Q10 Application Question

In passages A and B, two different views of the relationship between science and religion are presented. Discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of the arguments in both passages. Which view do you find more persuasive, and why?

Justify your opinions by referring to relevant material from both passages and appropriate examples of your own. UYOWAFAP. [8]



The nature of the two arguments differs due partly to the different assumptions each makes on what constitutes an argument in the first place. Both Passages A and B are also ultimately different world-views, and their evidence of this is that they use the same pieces of evidence to try to prove their case Passage A is almost fanatically atheist, especially in its purely scientific explanation of the origin of our world, which leaves no room for sentiment. Passage B attempts to reconcile scientific theories with religious beliefs, by showing how they may co-exist.


Comments by our tutor for General Paper: Clear summary of the 2 passages, indicating already which one is more balanced and therefore more persuasive. The stand is clear!




Peter Atkins is firm, absolute, unequivocal about his belief in science. He starts with Science is the only way to understand the world. This leaves little rem for confusion in the mind of the reader as to the purpose of the argument. It is very didactic, as he views those outside this world-view as ignorant souls to be saved This could appeal to those who dislike hemming and hawing, who prefer simplicity and a tough stance on a tough matter. However, such sheer absolutism is a to turn many other readers of for his arguments reek of vendetta and personal crusade, to the extent that I am wondering whether it is the religious scientists – or Mr Peter Atkins  -who have been personally scared.


Perhaps that remark was uncalled for, but Mr Atkins does launch negative generalisations on religious scientists, by casting aspersions on their childhood and upbringing. I do realise, however, Atkin’s difficulty in presenting his case. In believing that many sentiments and spiritual significances are false, he cannot use sentiment to sway the audience. They have to be presented with the cold hard truth with the only emotions aroused probably a cynical smirk at his dark humor and harsh language.


Yet I am unconvinced, although he brings up scientific theories such as the chance origin of life. Such beliefs are as much a result of Blind faith as religion could be, because these theories tell us how the world works, but Mr Atkins has not shown why they have to be chance events, as he precludes the possibility of ineffable plan. Passage A is very much a personal statement, a declaration of his non-beliefs, and he does not attempt to really persuade us or save our souls.


The second passage is a little more constructive in my opinion, as it seeks to reconcile science and religion, rather than advocating one over the other The problem with religious arguments is that they depend on many assumptions about their interpretation is possible to argue that the links drawn in this passage are tenuous, because the religious interpretation has been modified to suit scientific principles. However, I see no inconsistency in changing religion to suit changing conditions Passage B mentions religion as a form of philosophy, which can explain the significance of reality: 1 see no reason to deny that religion changes, to adapt its philosophy to a changing view of reality.


Comments by our GP tutor:
 (body para 1) The series of adjectives sums up Atkin’s tone very well, and reveals his extremely biased attitude. Aim to use appropriate words that capture Atkin’s stand. This is a nice aside that is indeed appropriate, for while Atkins mocks those whom he claims are psychologically scarred, his own words imply that he has been similarly affected.


(body para 3) An excellent observation, and does indeed pinpoint the irony in Atkin’s insistence that Science is the only way to enlightenment, which sounds peculiarly like the claim of many religions that they are the only way to enlightenment.

(body para 4), Use appropriate words to show why the writer of passage B is more willing to accept different views, unlike Atkins.




I find Passage B more persuasive as it looks like it is explaining rather than imposing a belief, unlike Passage A, where religious “freaks are in a “dung of ignorance Passage A will fare better with those who are already partially converted to that view, as it can be applauded for its brashness. Passage B dams neither, yet it is clever to exclude the harsher views, such as each religion’s stand on non-believers and the afterlife. By making the truth palatable and its world-view more easily accepted. Passage B is more persuasive for me, because I do not like the “truth” shoved down my throat.


Comments by GP tuition teacher:  Write the concluding paragraph with confidence, and a good grip of the issues. Clearly note that passage B omits arguments that might undermine its own stand, yet concludes that this passage is still more persuasive overall.


Extra GP Tutor’s Comments & Notes:
1 As you read the application essay answer above, remember to look at the assessment techniques employed.

2 Unlike many other AQs to air your own views about a topic (religion,humanity and science here in this case), this question requires you to consider the arguments in the 2 passages instead, and importantly, how well each writer have argued their respective cases? Also, are they biased? How do you know that? Are the hints from the choice of words, the images, the tones, etc…?

3 Key exam technique: Even as you praise one passage, ask yourself what problems that passage has. Do NOT try and overlook any flaws in your preferred argument. In other words, you really have to demonstrate critical reading and critical thinking.

4. The above answer is truly a great response to the 2 passage, vigorously pointing out the problems in A, and then explaining why B is more convincing / persuasive. yet it also shows the flaws in B, avoiding any bias. This approach is a good route to securing at least a 6 out of 8 marks for most GP AQs!




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