‘Science … our god’

Joan Desmond writes on P.D. James’s The Children of Men, which I hadn’t heard of before, about a world where humanity is dying out because it has lost its spirit:

At the start of this story, Theodore Faron, “Doctor of Philosophy, Fellow of Merton College in the University of Oxford, historian of the Victorian age, divorced, childless, solitary,” contemplates a human race approaching extinction.

Twenty-five years have passed since a child was born in the world and experts can’t explain the cause of this unprecedented tragedy.

“[M]any diseases … have been difficult to diagnose and cure,” Theo muses as he begins a new journal on his 50th birthday in the 2020s.

“Science… our god,” has always provided the key to the puzzle. …

A childless world poses another set of problems for the last generation of human beings, called the “Omegas.” They are generally self-absorbed and passive, with no particular reason for disciplining themselves for future responsibilities. Some have formed themselves into marauding tribes that can turn violent. “If from infancy you treat children as gods they are apt to act like devils,” says Theo.

He respects truth and posterity too much to engage in self-deceiving or destructive behavior. And he is brutally honest about his own flaws, including his “terror of taking responsibility for other people’s lives or happiness.”

But he has one claim to fame: he is the cousin of the “dictator and warden of England” — the egocentric ruler who oversees a nation too fragile and depressed to resist dictatorship.

Theo’s ties to the warden draw the attention of a small band of anti-government dissidents who seek to reform the warden’s policies, including the practice of euthanasia.

Among them is a Christian woman named, Julian. She invites Theo to join a thrilling mission that will have consequences for the entire human race. Likewise, their deep, unconditional bond transforms this brittle elitist into a man capable of genuine love and service for the common good.

The Children of Men is about a world in desperate need of renewal. It is also about one man venturing beyond the fortress of self-sufficiency.