In early June, SCAD Atlanta was pleased to welcome a wonderful group of talented young writers to Ivy Hall. The group wrote short stories, explored different ways of developing characters, learned about screenwriting, and created podcasts. We even managed a quick trip to the always-fabulous SCAD Fash to see Dressing for Dystopia. 

By the end of the workshop, everyone had some great writing to share, and we finished the week with a reading and reception for family and friends.

We’d also like to share one of the pieces written during the YWW–a wonderful essay by Samruddhi Panse. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.


How To Be A Confused Philosopher

by Samruddhi Panse


First, you must come into contact with people who are different ideologically, spiritually, religiously, or culturally. Sit down and have a cup of coffee with them. Watch the vigor with which they defend their beliefs when questioned. Watch the emotion they pour into affirming their faith. The same clarity that you have, they have too. The only difference is, through your enlightened lenses, you see different images of truth.

Or read a history book. Observe the detached tone that the authors use in describing and analyzing different religions, as though they were constructed entirely by creative and influential people from the past and not actually a divine, tangible, unrelenting truth. Is there evidence to prove otherwise? Study how religions change over time. Examine how powerful people modified beliefs out of convenience: to suppress the voiceless, to justify murder, to align their moral compasses for their own personal needs. How can so many different religions, often contradictory, exist, if there’s only one true God? They cannot all be true, yet they all have adherents who believe they are, just like you.

Sit in on a philosophy discussion. Listen to the loud, opinionated voices resonating against one another, unable to reach common ground. Listen to the silence of those who won’t walk out with the same confidence and stability with whic they walked in. Watch beliefs around the discussion circle slowly collapse as people cannot rebuke arguments made against them. All around the room, faith once concrete dissolves with inquiry into a deep, endless pool of doubt.

Now sit quietly, and wait for everything to crumble inside you. What’s the difference between faith and ignorance? How do you know your God exists if others, just as strongly, know their gods, or no god, exists? Nothing is defined. Everything is questioned. Everything is scattered. Your foundation shatters as easily as glass.

The people around you will tell you to hold on to your faith, even when it is brought into question. But what if it isn’t true? What if the stories are false? Are you being brainwashed by the people you love? They try and convince you that they know truth, that there isn’t another answer. They tell you to shut down thoughts that weaken your faith, that straying from your religion is a sin. They float away on a cloud of ignorance, of acceptance without question. You are left alone, pondering the one thing they said would remain constant through your entire life, the sturdy shoulder of an all-powerful being rapidly dissipating in your eyes.

Speak to someone who doesn’t scoff at your feelings, but welcomes discussion of your uncertainty. Someone who listens without judgement, regardless of how ridiculous you think you sound. Tell them about your doubt, your confusion, your despair. Tell them how everything you once believed to be concrete has collapsed from underneath you. How you don’t know truth from falsehood anymore, and did you ever? Let them understand what you have been hiding for so long.

Now listen to them as they tell you that you may be right, that there is no evidence for what you believe, that you can never be certain. But even if it is a lie, they tell you, is it not a beautiful lie? A lie that preaches love, sacrifice, salvation, and peace? In the very end, when your body lays as ashes and your soul is transported, and you find that it isn’t true, that none of it is true, will you be satisfied that you spent your life in a lie worth believing? They tell you not to suppress your qualms, that it’s okay to question. Healthy, even. Let yourself explore. Blind faith does not sustain. Faith without question becomes ignorance, gullibility.

Maybe some things are meant to stay unknown, never affirmed or cleared. Maybe the reason is because, once the answer is revealed, the quest for truth ends. And then what would happen to the human race? It is a species defined by curiosity, exploration, and innovation. It strives forwards with every step, leaping and bounding further, surpassing and breaking the limits it sets for itself, seeing and feeling and tasting the boundaries of what is already understood and stretching its fingers into the unknown.

If the ultimate truth is revealed, the world stops spinning. Suddenly, there’s nothing left to strive towards. Without passion, without uncertainty, we deteriorate. Maybe we’re left in the dark so that we’ll never stop searching for light. Or maybe we’re just coming up with stories and legends to try and comprehend what we can never understand, creating false pathways to make sense of our chaotic world. Maybe religions are just theories to try and explain the incoherent mass.

You may all come to different conclusions, but your struggles will undoubtedly be similar. In the end, you will have done what’s most important; you will have broken the comfortable daze of naivety, of being certain of what you don’t know.

And maybe there’s beauty in the idea that we’ll never know what forces govern us. That we can guess, theorize, believe, but never know, not as long as we’re breathing. Because what does faith matter if spiritual existence becomes factual? There’s glory in the uncertainty, the ultimate power of the omnipotent deity to keep their name hidden in the shadows.


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