— Jawaharlal Nehru Indian lawyer, statesman, and writer, first Prime Minister of India 1889 - 1964
Autobiography (1936; 1949; 1958), Context: Organised religion allying itself to theology and often more concerned with its vested interests than with the things of the spirit encourages a temper which is the very opposite of science. It produces narrowness and intolerance, credulity and superstition, emotionalism and irrationalism. It tends to close and limit the mind of man and to produce a temper of a dependent, unfree person.
Even if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him, so Voltaire, said … perhaps that is true, and indeed the mind of man has always been trying to fashion some such mental image or conception which grew with the mind's growth. But there is something also in the reverse proposition: even if God exist, it may be desirable not to look up to Him or to rely upon Him. Too much dependence on supernatural forces may lead, and has often led, to loss of self-reliance in man, and to a blunting of his capacity and creative ability. And yet some faith seems necessary in things of the spirit which are beyond the scope of our physical world, some reliance on moral, spiritual, and idealistic conceptions, or else we have no anchorage, no objectives or purpose in life. Whether we believe in God or not, it is impossible not to believe in something, whether we call it a creative life-giving force, or vital energy inherent in matter which gives it its capacity for self-movement and change and growth, or by some other name, something that is as real, though elusive, as life is real when contrasted with death. <!-- p. 524 (1946)