I'm a lover of facts. That's why I'm a hater of religion.
Ah, but don't religions seek the truth? Not really. They claim to, but only in the sense that QAnon followers believe they're truth-seekers.
In each case, religion and QAnon, truth is viewed much more as a belief, as something they hope is the case, rather than as an aspect of objective reality.
So facts are different from truth. There's lots of ways people define those two terms, as I learned by doing some Googling.
This article describes the difference quite clearly.
A Fact and a Truth walk into a bar and ask for a drink.
The bartender says to the Fact, “What can I get you?” clearly ignoring the Truth.
The Truth complains to the Manager that the bartender didn’t offer Truth a drink. The Manager responds, “the Bartender didn’t see you because he doesn’t believe in you”.
I have been pondering the difference for quite some time. How can multiple people look at the same situation but have vastly differing opinions on what is fact? What I have learned so far is that the difference between a fact and a truth is that a fact cannot be disputed – it is real, quantified, qualified, and measured as fact – it’s real.
A truth is not the same – it is based on belief and/or an interpretation of a fact, “You believe that something is true”.
It may NOT be true, but you believe it to be true. It could be because of where you were brought up, how your parents raised you, or the external influences during critical time periods during your life. Your belief system is borne out of those influences. Is this the reason why positions vary so wildly as it relates to the pandemic or even global warming?
Facts should be the foundation of truth. But often they're not.
This is what allows a Christian to say, "I speak the truth when I say Jesus is the Son of God," or a devotee of a guru to say, "The plain truth is that my guru is God in human form."
Those aren't facts. They're beliefs.
I stopped being religious when I realized that facts were more important to me than beliefs. For thirty-five years I diligently sought facts to support my beliefs. Not finding those facts, I chose to give up my belief.
The most recent issue of TIME magazine features a cover story of TIME's Person of the Year, Elon Musk. Following that story is a profile of the Heroes of the Year -- four people who were instrumental in the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
Here's an excerpt that mentions facts. I've boldfaced the part about fealty to facts.
Progress flows from the gradual accretion of knowledge. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccines, it started with the initially painstaking process of decoding the genomes of all living things; then folded in the development of sequencing machines that reduced that genetic reading time to hours; and finally weaved in the insights -- "Put it in a fat bubble!" -- that seemed to come in brilliant flashes but were actually the result of wisdom developed over decades working on how to manipulate a finicky genetic material called mRNA.
What drives it all might, in less divisive times, seem too obvious to mention: fealty to facts. It's the basis of the scientific method and the structure of our world. Without trust in objective reality, the lights don't turn on, the computer doesn't boot up, the streets stay empty.
...The miracle workers behind the COVID-19 vaccines are the TIME Heroes of the Year not only because they gave the world a defense against a pathogen, but also because the manner of that astonishing achievement guards more than our health: they channeled their ambitions to the common good, talked to one another, and trusted in facts.
What alternative do we have, really? Assuming we care about objective reality, and not just what subjectively feels good.
Facts are what bind us together. They are the common denominator of human experience. Opinions are important also, of course. But opinions, like beliefs, are personal and subjective. In contrast, facts are a treasure that everybody can partake of.
There are many virtues. Respect for facts is one of them. These days, more than ever, we need people who do their best to honor facts.
This doesn't mean never being wrong. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Science progresses because recognizing when you're wrong is a big part of the scientific method. This allows false facts to be discarded and genuine facts to be embraced.
So it's a virtue to have a shaky belief punctured by solid facts. That can be uncomfortable, because our beliefs are comforting. But if they're not factual, it's better to give them up.