I've never actually been asked if i'm an athiest... even in religious discussions. It's a little obvious with my FSM pictures on my desk among other things. I really don't think people want to know you doubt their beliefs. Even if they doubt themselves, they'll tend to say "I'm agnostic" rather than denounce the possibility of god completely. I don't remember meeting any actual athiests in person besides myself when i think about it. How about you?
Until recently, I think I only ever really knew of one.
I think it's funny, Doone, that you say "active" atheist...I don't know that there is any action required. I mean, sure, a person can actively promote it or admit to it, but... atheism is sort of just existing without jumping to conclusions about stuff we're unsure of. Would you agree? Anyway. Just that it was interesting...
My wife, Laura, says she believes in a higher power. However, she doesn't believe in anything organized religion has to say and believes the Bible is nothing but a book of lies written by men.
Her "beliefs" stem from loosing her sister to cystic fibrosis when she was little. She says she has to believe in her own mind that somehow she will see her sister again, whether by another life, heaven or whatever. I completely understand that loss of someone you love can make you think differently.
Same here, Dave. But if it weren't for those kinds of groups, I think I've only ever met one person who's an atheist (who told me they were an atheist). I might have known more, but it's not a question I go around asking people. ;-)
I'd say that I've met 3-4 people that I know are Atheists, plus I've pretty much planted enough knowledge into a friend/coworker who was pretty much undecided before we had a few friendly conversations on the topic. :)
This thread is odd for me, because I know many atheists, from school alone. In my physics class for example, we had a discussion about religion that had 3 other atheists actively involved (most of us quoting from The God Delusion - it was a fairly recent release at that time). And I'd say that I know at least 4 more students in my year that are definitely atheists, and several teachers. Those are just the ones that I know well enough to have talked about religion with - I wouldn't be surprised if there are loads more people that I know that I didn't know were atheists.
The amount of atheists my age is both encouraging and surprising. I live in UK, where the majority of people are Christians, but small number of them go to church. The 2001 census states:
"About sixteen per cent of the UK population stated that they had no religion. This category included agnostics, atheists, heathens and those who wrote Jedi Knight."
I think that there are more than 16% non-religious people my age in the UK, at least of those that I know.