Robert Canning writes that faith only persists because parents continue to teach their "impressionable children" Christianity (Letters, December 24).

He goes on to claim, as so many have before him, that Christianity (and presumably other faiths), would "quickly and irrevocably perish" should parents desist from so doing.

This is patent nonsense, and has been tried. The Soviet Union flushed all religious material from school textbooks and encouraged state-sponsored atheism to every part of society. Churches were closed, Christians persecuted mercilessly and all references, especially with regard to Christianity, were extirpated from education, both in terms of curriculum and textbooks. Any brave parents who continued to teach Christianity in the face of this persecution must have been in a minority, as their social standing and, in many cases, their jobs depended on toeing the official line.

When the USSR failed in the 1980s, people began to return to faith in great numbers, including those children who had grown up devoid of school prayers, religious education and occasional visits to church. This proved that brainwashing kids into atheism cannot succeed.

Secularists may not like it, but religious conviction is hard-wired into all human beings, including secularists, who devote to their own idols. We are made in his image. People may rebel against it, but can never change it. That is why faith persists.

Rev Stuart Stevenson,

143 Springfield Park, Johnstone.

Long may Ian Bell continue with his sometimes controversial and always thought-provoking articles. With regard to his latest ("Can the world weather storms of our making?", The Herald, December 26), I would ask him to ponder two points: first, faith persists in spite of, not because of, evidence. Secondly, I well remember a comment made some years ago at a conference on the need for evidence-based medicine. One speaker said: "Of course, we all know today's evidence is tomorrow's nonsense."

The world was once flat, according to the available evidence at the time.

Dr John NE Rankin,

1 Anne Drive,

Bridge of Allan.

Having reported extensively in recent weeks on the departure of the minister and congregation of St George's Tron church and having given your readers a sense of the injustice they feel (a sense, in my view, entirely misplaced) it was unfortunate there was no report of the huge congregation that worshipped in the building on Sunday afternoon.

Led by the Moderator of the Presbytery, and with a sermon by the Moderator of the General Assembly, the church was packed and when the congregation was greeted with the words: "Welcome to St George's Tron Church of Scotland" there was a great cheer and applause.

Whatever the future holds for this historic building, Sunday afternoon was a stirring occasion and sets down a marker of the presbytery's determination to build a new congregation and witness in the heart of the city.

Rev David A Keddie,

21 Ilay Road,