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A Free Man's Worship - Meaning of Life

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"A Free Man's Worship" - Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell, in his essay "A Free Man's Worship" illuminates a view that mankind wrongly worships power and private happiness when to lead a meaningful life Man should yearn for eternal things. He asserts our wrongly placed worship as the result of our savage ancestors feeling "the oppression of his impotence before the powers of nature" (Russell 56). They created the notion of an unseen, powerful force that could guide them to a life without suffering and so they started to worship that invisible power. They worshiped this force with not goodness but with cruelty and sacrifices in an attempt to appease their jealous Gods.

Science and Dr. Faustus's creationism story offer the same purposelessness to Man's life as we are either the accidental product of atoms, or are created solely as entertaining sufferers. Russell asserts that Man though inferior to the forces of nature, can resist them because man alone has a superior mind that allows evaluation of what is right and what is wrong. In this way, a free man is one who escapes the "tyranny of nonhuman power" or turns toward worshiping a God that inspires love and goodness (Russell 57). He also claims that freedom only comes to those who forgo meaningless personal goods as these objects will inevitably be destroyed by time and thus offer no real contentment. Man does not have an infinite existence and thus, our Fate will not allow us to keep beautiful Earthly things. Russell believes a free man should not dwell on vain regrets but view them as a misfortune and submit to the power that caused the events to occur as part of our Fate. In this way, Man does not harbour bitterness and turn towards worshiping the causal power in an attempt to prevent the misfortune from reoccurring. Russell views the world as a dark cavern where "the greed of untamed desire must be slain" to free the soul (Russell 59). When Man passes through this cave they may enter the temple that will bring joy and wisdom. Man becomes most empowered when the overwhelming forces of Time, Fate, Death and Change that we have no control over are acknowledged. Thus they are conquered, as we make them a part of our lives and not hold these forces as a foreboding invisible power worthy of worship in an attempt to control their devastating effects.



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