paulflexes saidScience and religion have the same problem. It's the word "constant."
It means that something never changes. It's "constant."
The difference is that the scientific community will embrace a differing hypothesis and support studies to figure out whether or not the "constant" is factually correct.
Religion will just condemn you to hell for differing, or even kill you.
That is a contradictory statement. If science is not willing to test whether its constants are in fact constant, that means it is not willing to embrace the hypothesis whether or not they are constant.
What Sheldon is talking about are dogmas within science: one being the tendency within the sciences to attribute differences in measurement to "error" and to take this as dogma. How do we know the actual value does not factually change with each measurement? How do we not know that the time-space continuum is in a constant random flux, if we already assume that time-space bends and is relative? how could the idea that constants do not constantly change, not be compatible with a changeable time-space continuum? It would certainly explain why a machine that is precisely calibrated to perform a certain task, tends to never perform it exactly, but deviates from its task, in a statistically measurable and mathematically describable, but not predictable (because it is random), distribution. That is a fundamental paradigm shift from the view that the constants do not change, but that our measurement is imprecise. Another is to attribute certain phenomena which are not understandable through current scientific theory, such as telepathy or pre-cognition, which has been suggested to occur in many psychological and animal behavioural tests, to being random statistical error. Both of these assume a certain structure of the universe, and its fluctuation as an "error" in the system. But is it really error? Is perhaps the universe in fact, programmed to be constantly statistically fluctuating? And is the mind really tied to material substance? Or is it independent from material substance? Sort of in the manner that the consciousness of a person does not change, whereas the molecules in his body are constantly changing. Is the mind then, created by the neurons? Or is it what is causing the neurons to react? The latter would be equally suitable for explaining the phenomena of telepathy and pre-cognition, which are currently considered a "statistical error of perception" in the same manner our fluctuating measurements are considered thus. Not to mention the latter would be in line with the general theory of the existence of the soul, or spirit, and makes it easy to understand why consciousness in a single being does not "leave" when the molecules that make up our bodies are lost.
To put it bluntly, when you breathe out, you are exchanging molecules with the air, and those enter into your brain and into your neurons, so your brain exchanges molecules with the air all the time, yet your sense of identity remains with you, and does not "exchange consciousness" with the air around you along with the molecules. This makes it theoretically plausible and logically deductible that the consciousness/mind is not tied to the body, allowing for the existence of something like a soul/spirit which infuses and steers the mechanical body and is what is conscious of it. However, since science can only measure molecules empirically, not the soul/spirit/mind/consciousness, it requires leaving behind the dogma that the universe operates solely mechanistically, and opens up the possibility of non-material spirit to exist and infuse it, from a very logical standpoint, and not since it is not measurable, not subject to scientific enquiry (since that requires material and measurement), but subject to logical enquiry about the nature of the spirit/soul/consciousness/mind as an entity independent from material and measurable existence.
Anyways, that's how I deduce it logically from the nature of how the material universe operates, that it allows for the existence of spirit and shared consciousness (like when people can "feel" how a loved one feels, even when they are miles apart, something which many people report having) rather than basing it on an error of perception, but that this could simply be how reality operates, and it is perfectly logical, IF you would not consider these things an "error", but as a natural part of how the universe works.
Anyways, his point is: if we define certain things as axioms (such as that the speed of light is assumed to be constant even though our measurements change, and we then assume our measurements are in random error, and then calibrate it as such), we step into dogma, we step into a defined belief about the universe, and that should be, strictly speaking, not the case. It is more practical, certainly (since it makes our calculations about the universe more "neat" and "fitting" and "orderly"). But by doing so, are we not imposing an expectation on the nature of things that might be wrong?
It's a very interesting philosophical question, mostly about, how do we define how things operate based on how we measure it? It seems clear from this talk, that the WAY we measure things, influences HOW we see the universe, and that is the fundamental aspect of science that should be kept in mind, in order not to avoid dogmatic sticking to certain axioms that we may be making up ourselves.