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 Fact”

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 “a thing that is indisputably the case,” says the OED

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For more use the DOOR.

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[MORE]

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   Webster’s New World College Dictionary offers this:

Fact – (1)  a deed; act.

   (2)  a thing that has actually happened or that is really true.

   (3)  the state of things as they are; actuality; truth.

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   It seems like a “fact” should be something so simple so that if we compare a fact to a premise we would get a sharper difference. Look at the operative words in the definitions above: “indisputably” (according to whom or how many?) ; “actually happened” (according to whom?); “really true” (not just “partly” true?)

   A premise (thesis, proposition, etc.), on the other hand, sounds like something softer, merely an “assertion” that seems to be a half step or so reaching beyond a fact or group of facts that some person or group is pretty certain about. The implication is that facts are a baseline and premises are ideas which rise up from them but are more open to debate.

   But can we not debate what a fact is?

   How do we know that the a fact before us is indisputably, or actually, or really true? (or “happened”? or actually “is”?)

   It “actually” depends upon the authority you accept, or who “says so” (presumably with some “records” or numbers to point to).

   It is commonly assumed by many that science deals with facts, and while science proceeds into theories or premises (and math to propositions), religion is less firmly footed. It establishes theories and premises developed upon something less substantial than facts.

   But is it really?

   Science gives us numbers, and claims to give us the same measurements¹ over and over, demonstrating reliability.

   But is this always true? And can it give us the reason why we seem to need to do this?

   A fierce argument going on today, especially in the biological sciences, is whether or not “Evolution is fact.” And many say that real science can’t proceed if a scientist doesn’t doesn’t whole-heartedly accept this as an “article of faith.”

   Our first argument with this is that say anything meaningful about evolution you have to first define the term. We’ve discussed this, and we’re not going there again here. But we have just discussed “fact.” The engine for this argument is that evolution–defining it crudely as matter and energy on its own with no supernatural, or outside-of-nature “tinkering” accidentally moves ahead on its own from simple to more complex–is indisputably, actually, really a fact.

   We say no.

   And several posts down the road we’ll identify a group of scientists and thinkers from around the world who also say no–after emphasizing they have no religious agenda whatsoever.

   We, however, do.

   And with our next post we’ll switch to literature and deliberately, in your face, identify common premises that refer to the God of the Bible that appear in literature, “Christian” literature, some folklore, and in some other stories.

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   ¹ Regular measurements that repeatably give the same, or similar, results give “weight” to science facts, and we feel comfortable with that. Two things to keep in mind here. (1) Scientists tolerate measuring error or variation depending upon the observing or experimental or apparatus or error in recording by the humans involved in this. So one doesn’t have to have the same exact numbers. (2) In what many consider other kinds of facts, such as historical facts (even Earth-history facts), the idea of “number” is more slippery.