Why do they do these things to children, Pan? Do they all hate children so much that they want to tear them apart like this? Why do they do it?

In The Golden Compass, Lyra asks Pan this question at Bolvanger after meeting Tony Makarios, who has no daemon, and realizing that is the separation of a child from his daemon. The Church tears children away from their own souls not because it hates the children, but because it fears the potential for sin inherent in children. According to Church doctrine, the source of all sin in the world is the growing awareness of children as they approach adulthood. The Church and the scientists at Bolvanger believe that by cutting children’s daemons away, they will prevent children from gaining awareness of themselves, which in turn will prevent them from exercising free will and sinning. For Lyra, who dearly loves her daemon, Pan, this Church practice seems cruel. Her journey becomes a struggle against the Church’s misperception of the relationship between child and daemon. She has to prove that becoming an adult and gaining awareness is the right of all conscious beings, and that what the Church calls sin is in fact something necessary and important.