Russell's A Free Man's Worship: Meaning and Interpretation

Bertrand Russell's A Free Man's Worship is his attempt of emancipating the modern people from the bloody tradition worship of power. As a modern humanist philosopher, Russell first takes the allusion of Marlow's Dr. Faustus to describe the probable creation story of the human world.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

Russell does not take allusion from any other sources but only Marlow because in his drama the description given by Mephistopheles is the must probable creation story, related to science. So he takes his allusion and believes that the creation story is the most logical. Any way Russell believes that human beings came in to existence and the first savage ancestors were totally powerless on the hand of nature.

Bertrand Russell believes that our savage ancestors found themselves helpless and powerless because nature was dark and chaotic and no means to think otherwise. They began to imagine a power that was unseen for them they thought that, here must be some visible force, which is beyond their sight and control. Than they thought is, they gave some worship to that power. It would make their life better, more helpful and powerful. Thinking so they established the power of imagination and began to worship to that power which is the worst task made by them.

After they established power and began to worship it a tradition of worshiping over power was developed. The tradition of worship came to be developed in such a negative way that we worship God; the blood thirst demonic picture of God, was created so that we worsened the tradition more and more. He gives two examples of God to criticize the negative tradition of worship. The Moloch God was worshiped by scarifying the children by burning them in to the flame of fire. He also criticizes the God in the Book of Job in Bible where both Gods, the Moloch God as well as other God in negative sense they are the source of suffering rather than love to the worshipper. He criticized such demon like Gods and attacks over the negative tradition of worship. He suggests that it is the time to alter the tradition of worship but it is better to stop to worship if we can.

Russell reminds the moral readers that only humans can distinguish between good and bad or right and wrong. He says that human being is different from other creation of Mother Nature, in the sense that only humans have the indomitable (strong) nature of spirit that is using our mind. He reminds us that by using the mind, we can think, imagine, analyze and evaluate what is right and what is wrong. He thinks that power and its worship is very meaningless.

In his opinion, there is no human power but super human power such as nature, time and death. In nature, there is the power of change and violence. In time, there is power of fate and in death, there is the power of finality, in this power there is such force, which we cannot control or prevent. Whatever we worship after these powers, they are deaf, dumb and victimization. No one can be immoral; no one can escape from the moth of death at last. To use such mind is tousle (dishevel) indomitable nature of our spirit and by using so we can conclude that our worship to power is meaningless. We should be indifferent to the power. It is better not to worship power. If not so it is the time to alter the tradition of power worship and it is better to worship good, loveable and affectionate power.

Finally, Russell suggests us that when we stop to worship power we can be freeman. To be a freeman it is very difficult because we are guided by our petty and trivial personal selfish desire. We are bounded in the material world so we cannot renounce this world. Until and unless we renounce such material desires, we cannot be a free man. It is like the world of a dark cave, which is difficult to cross, but once we cross it we will reach a beautiful temple, which is to be the freeman.

What Russell says is if we abandon our personal selfish desire and if we reject the material world, we become freeman and we have different type of world of the worship. The Freeman does not worship like the savage who worships as a slave on the feet of power to fulfill his petty and trivial desires. But, to the freeman worship is different because he is not the slave on the feet of power. Instead, his worship is deep thinking or meditation for the welfare of humanity. In Russell’s opinion, A Freeman’s Worship is to burn in to the fire of worldly human passions. It is the great thinking of human for the benefit of the human world like Buddha.