Okay, readers. Can you define the difference between truth and facts?
I know some of you just rolled your eyes at me, but the distinction is important so hang with me. Think about it for just a moment and see what comes to mind.
Is one more important than the other? Is it Truth over facts, or facts over truth? And why does this matter?
What Is a ‘Fact’?
Don’t confuse facts with reality. ~
Merriam-Webster.com defines a fact as:
- something that has an actual existence; an actual occurrence
- a piece of information presented as having objective reality
- the quality of being actual
- a thing done: such as crime, action, feat
Seems straightforward. No problems there.
Well, okay. I have one slight problem, and it speaks directly to our discussion today. Look again as definition number 2: a piece of information presented as . . . . Presented as.
Isn’t that interesting.
A look at facts over the ages.
The reason that little phrase is so critical is that it points to the broad reality of facts. You see, facts can change and often do. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s look at some of the ‘facts’ we ‘knew’ were accurate over the past few hundred years.
- The earth is flat.
Believe it or not, this one is still up for debate. While it doesn’t make any sense to me, a group of people still argue for a flat earth.
- The sun revolves around the earth.
Called the geocentric model, this belief places the earth at the center of the universe and was the common belief in the ancient cultures. This too, still has adherents in our modern day.
- The atom is the smallest piece of matter.
With ever-developing microscopes, we are seeing ever smaller pieces of matter. According to an article on Sciencing.com in 2017, the smallest pieces of atoms are quarks. Of course, that was three years ago, and scientists might know more.
Three facts, believed for decades, even centuries. And yet many within the science community have now changed their mind.
What Is ‘Truth’?
Going back to Merriam-Webster.com, truth is defined as:
- the body of real things, events, and facts; the state of being the case; a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality; a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true; the body of true statements and propositions
- the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality; fidelity to an original or to a standard
- sincerity in action, character, and utterance
Any problems here? Let’s put off discussion of number three for another day and focus in on the first two definitions. While they sound good on the surface, my first question is this: How do we know what things, events, and facts are ‘real’?
A look at truth over the ages.
Let’s put science aside at the moment and just look at religion. Here are two leaders that declared they possessed truth and gathered a following.
- James (Jim) Jones
Jim Jones launched his group, the Peoples Temple, in the 1950s, moved his group to California in 1965, then a bit later moved everyone to the Guyana jungle. A Marxist and self-declared prophet and healer, Jones “began deriding Christianity as ‘fly away religion,’ rejecting the Bible as being a tool to oppress women and non-whites, and denouncing a ‘Sky God’ who was no God at all. . . . Jones also began preaching that he was the reincarnation of Gandhi, Father Divine, Jesus, Gautama Buddha, and Vladimir Lenin” (Wikipedia, click to read more). Things ended tragically in 1978 when all 918 members present in the camp died by murder and suicide.
- Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles
While visiting a friend in the hospital, Marshall Applewhite met Bonnie Nettle, a nurse. “Applewhite later recalled that he felt as though he had known Nettles for a long time and concluded that they had met in a past life. She told him their meeting had been foretold to her by extraterrestrials, persuading him that he had a divine assignment” (Wikipedia, click to read more). Together, they founded a group known as Heaven’s Gate which believed that Applewhite was Jesus reincarnate, Applewhite and Nettles were the two prophets spoken of in Revelation, and they would be killed, raised from the dead, and transported by spaceship. They gathered followers, and in 1997 (after Nettles death from cancer), Applewhite convinced thirty-eight others to commit suicide so they could catch the spaceship hiding in the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet.
Most of us would say these two men did not represent truth.
So, Truth over Facts or the Other Way Around?
How do you relate to the world? Do you believe truth . . . and consider facts? Or do you believe facts . . . and consider truth? We all make this choice, even though we don’t really think of it this concretely. Rather, we focus on the smaller, daily issues or life struggles of the moment and never think about the fuel that we use to guide us one way or another.
Let’s think about something that is currently fresh in all of our minds. When Covid-19 hit pandemic levels and everything around us started closing, where did you go for information? What is your primary source of knowledge? Television, the Internet, and other news sources for expert opinions, reports on the latest discoveries, and the dictates of local and national leaders? Or the Bible?
But Carrie, Covid-19 isn’t in the Bible. No, that specific word phrase is not in Scripture. Furthermore, a more generic check will reveal that ‘coronavirus’ will not come up in any of the laws, prophets, gospels, or epistles. But principles that guide life and health run through every page.
We are either in the process of resisting God’s truth or in the process of being shaped and molded by his truth. ~
The apostle John declares in 1 John 1:5, This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.
Jesus declared Himself truth in John 14:6.Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
In John 16:13, Jesus mentions the Holy Spirit when He says, But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.
And Jesus declared in His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion, Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.
I could go on, listing verses like 2 Timothy 2:15, John 8:31-32, Psalm 25:5 or Psalm 119:160. But instead, I’ll leave you with this. We can, and should, gather facts from our news sources. We absolutely need to listen to the wise and learned around us to pick up safe practices and healthy processes.
But, truth comes from the Bible and spending time with God, including what we each need to do with the facts that surround and bombard us.
The facts of Cassandra’s life tell her that she isn’t safe. But the truth she clings to includes this: God is in charge. Will the Creator of the universe come through for her, protecting her and her girls from the danger surrounding her?
But when Deputy Fire Marshal Cassandra McCarthy’s husband died unexpectedly, she was forced to find a career. Now working beside a retired Special Operations soldier and veteran fireman, she serves her small North Carolina town, protecting them from hazards they don’t understand.
But things must change.
First, a paramedic starts to work at one of her firehouses, irritating her with the most ridiculous names. And then the evidence in a series of unexplained fires points in a direction she doesn’t like.
Can she continue to do her job with integrity and passion when she doesn’t like where it leads her?