Prof. Dr. Muhammad al' Mahdi
In the 1960's in the United States I set out on a search for Truth. This was to be no quest to fill some missing spiritual vacuum; I had already firmly determined that God did not exist. Not only did I not believe in God, but I was convinced that all logic, reason, and scientific evidence confirmed that God did not exist; and, that for anyone to believe in the existence of God was such an outdated, superstitious way of life that it would hold them back from fulfilling their human potential and would likewise block the human race from achieving its ultimate destiny. So certain was I that I once stated, establishing the highest authenticity of my atheistic credentials when I was lecturing to a large class of about 500 introductory psychology students that, "If there was ever going to be the last person on Earth who didn't believe in God it would be me".
My search for truth included almost fourteen years as a full time university student and resulted in my going through three and a half PhD programs in child, clinical, experimental, and educational psychology. I had originally intended, and began, my studies in the physical sciences. This allowed me, due to previous training in nuclear electronics, to spend four years as a research assistant in one of the foremost theoretical physics laboratories of that time, where I had the opportunity to meet and discuss the most basic nature of our physical universe with several recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Perhaps related to the 'special' social and cultural circumstances of the 1960's, I moved from the physical sciences to the social sciences partly because of the very unhappy and difficult life I had growing up and partly because of an increasingly serious awareness that all was not right with human society. I decided that I would go into psychology, particularly child psychology, so that perhaps I could do something to ensure that in the future children would not have to go through what I had gone through and could live in an enlightened world of peace and love.
During my studies in psychology I came across a 'tool' of great value for anyone who hoped to help bring about a better world, this tool was the Laws of Learning. During an undergraduate class in experimental psychology we were given a live chicken and told to devise a fairly complex task to teach it using the Laws of Learning. I wanted my chicken to stand on one leg only, its right leg, to hop in a full circle to the right on that one leg, then to push a red button on the wall of the experimental chamber with its beak, have a bite of food, and keep repeating that same sequence of behaviours without error time after time.
This could have been an almost impossible task as chickens are not very intelligent animals and most people, including myself without a knowledge of the Laws of Learning, would have had no idea how to even begin such a difficult training program. When less than ten minutes after I had begun training my chicken to do this seemingly impossible task I was able to sit there watching it repeatedly and errorlessly completing the whole complicated sequence of responses which made up the task I had set for it, I was more than amazed. Of course I never could have done this without the knowledge of the Laws of Learning, which I applied rigorously and consistently as I trained the chicken to do that complex task. Still, it all happened so quickly and easily that it appeared to be an almost miraculous happening.
I still remember thinking, "If I could use the Laws of Learning to teach an animal with as little intelligence as a chicken to do that quite complex task so quickly, why couldn't those same Laws of Learning be used to help children grow up to be good and decent human beings?" This was the beginning that led me years later, during my third PhD program, to come up with the hypothesis that, "If you were to give to any individual or social group just two things, a positive, accurate, and motivational world view, plus a good understanding of the Laws of Learning by which all human characteristics are developed, then that individual or social group would move naturally and inevitably toward everything good and right."
My work in using the Laws of Learning to teach children resulted in me being given a government primary school, the 'worst' one in the school district, to test that hypothesis under experimental conditions. So I set out to prove the hypothesis as a children's values education program. Just as with my experiment with the chicken many years earlier the results were beyond all expectations. Within a year the children, the teachers, and the school environment had become astonishingly positive and productive. Extra academic training had not even been part of our experimental program, but due to motivational factors and a focus on the benefits of learning and possessing knowledge as one of the values the children were taught, the school which had tested last in the district of 27 schools each year for twelve years in a row during standardized academic testing moved up to number seven academically after only one year of the program.
Compared statistically against matched experimental control schools the results were so unbelievably good for an educational research program that they were almost an embarrassment. You just don't get results that good in educational experiments: but, the U. S. Commissioner of Education took enough interest in the program to offer to have it replicated in government funded schools all across America. I didn't feel it was ready for such wide use yet, it was after all only in the experimental stages, and although I think then I knew enough about the second part of the hypothesis, the Laws of Learning, to justify the spread of the program, I realized I was far from understanding the second necessary component of the hypothesis, the positive, accurate, and motivational world view, well enough.
To many people's shock, and perhaps some regret, I left the experimental program which had proved so successful. In fact to continue my search for Truth I left America, where I had become increasingly disenchanted with the social culture and the government's policies, and went out into the world to find that required positive, accurate, and motivational world view. It was a search that would take me to not only many more years of intense study on my own covering all areas of science and philosophy, but also theology, the study of religious knowledge. My travels, even as I remained a confirmed non-believer in God, eventually took me to priests and monasteries, gurus and ashrams, monks and Buddhist temples around the world.
During all these years after leaving the formal study of the physical sciences I had been keeping up with the many enlightening discoveries in theoretical physics. Modern physics was then going through a very exciting period, we now had a quite good understanding of the most basic nature of matter and how the physical universe came to be what it is today. I became more and more interested in the philosophical implications of Einstein's Theories of Relativity. Connections were being made in my consciousness between the implications of Einstein's work and the revealed knowledge of religious believers which I had long rejected.
I remember well the day that I finally had to concede that if I wanted to be fair and objective as a scientist I would have to accept that due to the findings of modern physics, particularly Einstein's Theories of Relativity, I could no longer deny the existence of God. I had to accept that modern science and logic now offered powerful proof of the existence of God. And, I remember equally well my first two words to myself when I realized I now had to accept the existence of God as a reality. This is very revealing as to my character at the time, but those two words were, "Oh no!" I understood immediately that my life would have to change drastically, since knowing that God existed also meant having an obligation to live according to the Will of God rather that feeling free to succumb to the whims of human desire.
No one could have been more shocked than I when what had been intended to be the ultimate journey into secular materialistic science and philosophy took me first to the knowledge of the existence of God then to a realization that I could follow no other path in life but Islam.
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