A fact is a kind of truth, but not all truth is factual.
The English term “fact” comes from the Latin factum, which is a legal term referring to the act or deed of someone. In other words, a factum is something that is verifiable in a court of law. And, this is a kind of truth. A fact may also be something that is observable and repeatable, like a scientific fact. And this is also a kind of truth.
But, there is truth that is not accessible via a courtroom or the lab. There is truth that is verifiable via the human experience and this is the truth of the story of Noah and the Flood.
This story speaks truthfully concerning the forces of chaos in our world – reckless and indiscriminate chaos – like floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, plagues, famines, military invasions. How do we speak about God in the light of calamity and disaster? This is the truth of the story of Noah and the Flood.
Can we verify the story as it is narrated in the Book of Genesis in a court of law? No.
Can we observe and repeat the story as it is narrated in the Book of Genesis in a lab? No.
But, contrary to popular opinion, this does not mean that it is not true. The past cannot take the stand nor can the past be placed in test tube, but this does not mean that history is not true.
History-telling is meaningful and true insofar as it informs the present.
The story of Noah and Flood is both meaningful and true. For those who suffer great tragedies, and we all do, this story has the power to speak to that which is broken and undone.
The Noah story is just as true as the flying spaghetti monster. An just as uplifting. Maybe a little less but still. Enough said.