Welcome to Unfound.
This site is an attempt by two friends, Brett and Billy, to answer an easily stated but deceptively difficult question; if you now find yourself in the growing category of people known as nonbelievers, what comes next?
To start, let’s go back to the beginning of our journey. It might be yours too.
What came before?
Suddenly or perhaps gradually, you’ve let go of your beliefs, probably the ones you were raised with as a child. You’ve gained the perspective to treat all myth as myth, regardless of whether it’s still practiced and holding the elevated place in society reserved for religion. You see no need to ponder the challenges and questions posed by the dominant faiths of your time any more than you see the need to make an offering to Zeus or Odin. In religious terms, you are technically an atheist, but you don’t define yourself this way and you feel that label is a bit tired; your believing neighbors are atheists too… with respect to Ra, Horus, Zoroaster, and many other gods that no longer have any adherents.
Where are you now?
You see others going through the routine that you recognize, after they begin to see their former practices from the outside. Astonished at the unjustified certainty of their former fellow believers, and their continual iron-clad assuredness of things that can’t be known and refuse to be proven.
And so they find a group, maybe your group, at a campus or probably online, on Facebook. They need to tell someone, say something. Is it just me? Did I really believe this like a kid accepting Santa Claus before I realized the size of the Earth, the number of people on it, that not everyone has a chimney, and that the speed of light is ultimately a limiting factor? Flying reindeer? What’s next, a talking snake? Oh wait…
They’ll share the same memes, make the same preaching-to-the-choir (sorry) arguments, read the same books. They’ll learn that belief doesn’t have to be the default mindset, that it’s entirely reasonable for one’s starting point to be that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And maybe they need a certain amount of support when “coming out” to their families, and a shoulder when it loses them a few friends. Eventually, these newly opened minds go through the same motions you did. After a time, they’ve said what they needed to say. They’ve expressed their incredulity at what some person in Congress, seemingly time-traveled here from the 19th century, said in a speech about women, or people who love differently from them, or people who don’t believe as they do. They’ll express that incredulity again as the need comes up, as we all should.
But after that… if they’ve dealt with the separation from a tradition they may have known since infancy, then what? How much is there to say and do about something you don’t believe in?
What comes next?
The question you may find yourself left with, after taking this journey, is quite literally what to do. You know that you no longer believe, that it’s a bell you can’t un-ring. But it’s unsatisfactory to simply be about NOT. How do you define your life through what you aren’t? This is one of the foils used by believers when criticizing non-belief, that it is empty and leaves one with despair and hopelessness. As if to suggest that it would be better to simply keep the wool over one’s eyes. But it is born out of a failure to recognize that there is any world or view other than their own. Not this doesn’t mean nothing. Not this means the possibility for something else. Not this means walking away from it, and engaging fully the question of what now?
If the answers are not to be found in stories that tell us of a cosmos that was created by a singular mind for a clear-cut purpose, then it suggests that the actual answers will be varied, unexpected, surprising, delightful, shocking, and sometimes a real challenge to find at all. That’s exciting. That’s mystery. A universe that was not created for humans is something else altogether. A universe like that doesn’t have to fit into a narrative, has no obligation to be easy for humans to understand. If it’s not true, after all, that the answers are provided and we need to ask nothing, then we are free to ask everything. We also have no expectation that anything or anyone is interested in giving us the answer. We proceed with only the desire to figure things out, and the hope that we just might be clever enough to actually do so.
Art. Sculpture. Science. Medicine. Music. Nature in all its delicate and sometimes terrifying beauty. The purpose and meaning of our relationships. Great literature. Self-examination. Self-expression. The mystery of the moment-to-moment experience of simply being conscious. All of this was there before, but discolored by trying to fit it into a false framework of pre-defined meaning and purpose. What if you could reexamine it all again with fresh eyes, without the filters of dogma and belief? We think it would mean a million questions to ask about our world, the cosmos, and especially ourselves. We think the answers will amaze us, but a lot of it will make us laugh- especially at ourselves.
So what comes after atheism? After your defining existential framework has been torn down and you’re wondering what comes next? Finding out is our post-secular journey, and the impossible, fearlessly over-ambitious goal of Unfound. Thanks for coming along.