It seems to me that the atheistic contributors to the debate on intelligent design ignore one essential point which none of them seems to want to confront. In an examination of the question of our genesis, one fact is ignored: all speculation, analysis and conjecture as to the nature and genesis of our universe is carried out by means of the mind and of the intelligence which mankind possesses. Any conclusion reached is an expression of belief.

If not shaped by an intelligent creative force around us, where did this intelligence come from? By means of evolution? Evolution from what? Have we evolved from mindless inert matter that somehow has shaped itself into homo sapiens, or through the agency of an intelligent creative force which men call God?

Man's mind only reflects the design and order that is all around him, and the marvels that our civilisation has created throughout the centuries are all based on the fact that there is order and predictability in our universe which can be discovered and harnessed to our own scientific ends.

We are surrounded by evidence of intelligent design. Take but one example: the suckling mechanism of the whale. The whale is a mammal which suckles its young underwater. It does so by means of a watertight cap around the mother's nipple which fits tightly around the baby's snout so as not to allow the entrance of sea water. Such a mechanism does not allow of a transitional form which adapts slowly to its environment. It does not allow for a gradual evolutionary process. It must exist perfectly formed for the purpose or the baby whale dies. How else could such a mechanism exist if not brought about by an intelligent and purposeful creative force?

In the final analysis, any answer to these metaphysical questions must be an expression of belief. The atheist is as much a believer as is the theist.

The former believes there is no God; the latter believes there is. Which of the two beliefs is more in harmony with the evidence ? The answer should be self-evident.

Joe Pieri, 11 Bishopsgate, Kenmure Drive, Bishopbriggs, Glasgow.

It is certainly one of the myths surrounding intelligent design (ID), repeated by two of your recent correspondents, that publications supporting ID do not appear in peer-reviewed scientific publications. I am aware of up to 20 such papers and articles, and a useful list can be found at Certainly Cambridge University Press thought ID was a sufficiently credible position to include several articles on the subject in its recent book, Debating Design.

Peer review, of course, necessarily reflects the scientific consensus in a way that can make it challenging for fresh and controversial perspectives to be heard. And there is a potential Catch-22. It goes like this. We don't think ID is science and so will not publish papers on it; and, by the way, because you have few publications, you can't be credible science.

Dr Alastair Noble, 4 Lynn Drive, Eaglesham.

Alan Lawson (Letters, October 16) describes well the self-serving nature of organised religion. It was the late American comedian, W C Fields, who in 1943 called religion "a refuge for the sap, the ignorant and the bigot". Looking around in today's troubled world it is very easy to put people into these remarkably accurate categories.

Malcolm Parkin, 15 Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross.

In the Gospel according to Alan Lawson, it is written that "religionists generally invariably assume a position of moral superiority". Whoever wrote this clearly cannot distinguish between propositions that are "generally" true and those that are "invariably" so.

Brian D Finch, 56 Fingal Street, Maryhill, Glasgow.