Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke, published by Harcourt, Brace & World; © 1953
Arthur C. Clarke, or imposing proper reverence, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, was an avowed atheist, dancing, contradictory, with the concept of God through all his great works; notably Childhood’s End, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: Odyssey 2, 2061: Odyssey 3, and 3001: The Final Odyssey. At times he was adamant about his beliefs, “I don’t believe in God or an afterlife”; and on other occasions absolutely flippant, “Any path to knowledge is a path to God—or Reality, whichever word one prefers to use.”; which is remarkably similar to his third law; any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
His chosen god-given paradise was that of an evolutionary, transcendent transformation to a higher order; not necessarily a gift from an omniscient being but that certainly is a conceivable end point of several of his utopian narratives.
Childhood’s End begins with humans not worthy of traveling further into that celestial ether but our progeny are trainable to receive that gift. Earth is taken over by a race of space aliens known as the Overlords, that have come to suppress our worst instincts and desires, prepare and guide us, towards the enlightenment of the Overmind.
Childhood’s End is considered Clarke’s greatest novel and he certainly thought it his best, and it definitely sent him on a trajectory to further explore concepts of transcendence in later works culminating in his hugely successful Space Odyssey series.