What's the relationship between "facts" and "truth"? Is there any difference between them? If so, how would you describe it?
You've asked a profoundly perceptive question. Yes, there is an important difference between facts and truth. In some ways it's analogous to the difference between a pile of bricks and St. Paul's cathedral, or between a list of dates and Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History. Factum, in the original Latin, denotes nothing more than a "thing done." An isolated fact is like a stray piece of a puzzle. It's an object, an article, a fragment of information, a bit of trivia. Truth, on the other hand, is all about meaning.
To put it another way, discerning truth is a matter of interpreting the facts. In a courtroom setting, the same facts are available to both prosecution and defense. Each attorney puts his own spin or construction upon the evidence, but this does not imply that both sides are right. There is still one truth. It would be absurd to insist otherwise. Depending on the type of case before the bar, an individual's entire future may hang upon the jury's ability to recognize this single truth. The correct meaning emerges when the significance of the pattern and the real relationship between the facts becomes clear. This is why Scripture asserts that Jesus Christ is the Truth (John 14:6). He is the Truth because all things "hold together" in Him (Colossians 1:17).
If you have further questions about this, call to speak with our staff of pastoral counselors.
Focus on the Family's The Truth Project