The late Christopher Hitchens is at the heart of my thoughts for the New Year.
As I wish mankind greater individual freedom, I think of how with typical articulation and courage, this rare individual has taught us to question everything, including God.
So my New Year wish is for individuals to ask themselves; if God were a person, would you want him as your friend?
Would you accept someone who had the power to end the horror of the holocaust but chose not to? Would you forgive someone who witnessed the Fritzl cellar suffering and did not interfere?
Most importantly, would you accept this person's reasoning of 'working in mysterious ways?' would his explanation of suffering in this life for the sake of a better afterlife be enough to justify this cruelty?
No, you would not. Indeed, as Hitchens demonstrates, only an unaccountable, unquestioned entity would be pardoned such immoral conduct.
2012 will undoubtedly continue the rise in atheism worldwide, hopefully bringing genuine comfort to people.
In the age of the Internet the concept of god/s is divorced from young people's minds and is becoming more foreign to people in general. The ignorance that for generations sustained the myth cannot survive the internet, people's instant access to information and consequent enlightenment for so many. See the Haredi Jews with their smartphones and you see just one example of why religion as we know it is fighting a losing battle for survival.
Here's to a moral, humane, companionate, understanding, forgiving, loving, questioning, 2012 and beyond. People willing.