Facts are what the world is built off of. They’re true statements or concepts about how stuff works, and when we find one and become confident of its validity, we trust it.
But facts don’t become facts when we believe they are. Facts are facts, whether we know they are or not. If a fact hasn’t been discovered yet, that doesn’t mean it’s not a fact, it’s just unknown. Believing in something doesn’t make it a fact.
From there comes the question of what makes a fact a fact. How can I definitively say that a fact (the thing itself, not the word) is what we say it is? Here’s the very simple answer: it just is, because that’s the nature of the thing. It’s not a fact because the human race says it is, it’s a fact because that’s the way it is. It’s a law, of sorts.
You may find this all elementary (or simply confusing, since I’m bringing it down to the lowest possible point of analysis possible), but in all honesty, I swear people today have issues with understanding the idea.
You may have heard of (or know) someone who is a relativist, or perhaps a conspiracy theorist, or possibly just someone who believes something because they have “faith” (the interpretation of faith being essentially wishful thinking). These people all have something in common: a misinterpretation of what facts are, and how they should be used.
A relativist thinks in facts, even though he may not think he does. The very basis of being a relativist requires one to accept the concept that everything is relative as fact. In reality, he is not a true relativist, since he has to adhere to a specific rule. Otherwise his whole premise falls apart. I astounds me how many people are so open-minded that their brains fall out, to quote the fantastic Steve Taylor.
The conspiracy theorist always thinks in “what ifs”. There’s usually not many actual facts floating around in his brain, just concepts he accepts as facts. Often his worldview is built off of rumor and doubt of what is obvious, because to him what is obvious must not be true. He looks at an earthquake, and instead of seeing a natural shift in the earth’s tectonic plates, he sees the work of an alien civilization that has been hiding underground for centuries, closely studying the human race. They find random articles on the internet that support their view and with one or two confirmations, they immediately accept it as truth.
The person who has “faith” is another breed a little like the conspiracy theorist. They believe things without question, mostly because a lot of other people believe it (which isn’t always bad, just as a disclaimer). They don’t know the facts, they don’t know why it’s supposed to be true, they just believe it because they like the idea of it being true. Never mind that there may be actual proof against it, or philosophy (which can also be convincing proof) showing otherwise, they just believe it because it’s right for them. Which is bullcrap.
There is truth in the world. There are facts. Believe what is true. Not what is rumored, not what is nice to think about, not what you think should be right. Base your worldview off of fact. Faith is being sure of what you hope for, and hope is knowing something will happen because of evidence.
Now we don’t know everything. We don’t know every fact the universe has to offer. But the universe does run off of facts. And facts are inherently true. So when there is a new fact discovered, it has to fit with everything else in the world. If there’s a fundamental conflict between facts, it’s either that neither of them are true or that one of them is true. They can’t both be true.
Thus ends my ramble.