In the YouTube Crash Course Philosophy video Indiana Jones & Pascal's Wager: Crash Course Philosophy #15, Hank Green discusses Pascal's Wager, saying:

Does believing in something because it's the safest bet really win you a ticket to heaven? Doesn't God want you to be less self interested when it comes to believing in Him? Well not according to Pascal. He thought how and why you choose to believe doesn't really matter because the fact is God doesn't care how He gets you, as long as He gets you.

Okay, so how do you will yourself into believing in something just because that's where the smart money is? Easy.

Screenshot from the YouTube video

You essentially brainwash yourself into true belief, so that what starts out as self-interest can actually grow into an honest conviction.

And you do this, basically, by walking the walk and talking the talk. Start going to church, start praying, hang out with other believers. At first, it might seem weird and disingenuous, but over time it'll become an ingrained part of your belief system.

This raises the question (replacing "church" with "mosque" above):

Question: Is brainwashing yourself into conviction a legitimate path to Islam?

As in, is Hank Green's description an acceptable way to become a Muslim? The way he described it, it does not sound like a particularly satisfying way to convert.

  • 1
    I'm not sure I understand the question, conviction is the only deciding criterion afaik, how you get there isn't really important; Umar is said to have converted after hearing a handful of verses, others after years of questioning Muhammad, his uncle never despite intense efforts. If hearing poetry is legitimate, why would poor rationalizations not be? Is your question actually whether brainwashing yourself can generate genuine conviction? If so, the question is probably offtopic, and would be a better fit for Psychology & Neuroscience.
    – G. Bach
    Feb 20, 2017 at 2:34
  • 1
    It is not! at least according to Shia Islam where blind faith is rejected. @G.Bach Prophet's uncle was a Muslim according to Shias but he used to do taqiyya at some period. And Umayyads had a vested interest in spreading this belief in order to discount the unique virtues of Ali.
    – infatuated
    Feb 20, 2017 at 3:35
  • Indeed it's an amazing question, but to answer it, will demand a very explained answer.
    – Seeker
    Feb 20, 2017 at 4:33

2 Answers 2


It is indeed a very beautiful question, and it's answer is also no short one. I will try to answer your question, by dividing your question to several parts.

1. Does believing in something because it's the safest bet really win you a ticket to heaven?

A: It depends, where your believe came from. Most of the times with us Humans, our belief and the safest bet is deeply connected to the religion, we are born in. A Believe must come after a research through different religions.

This research causes, respect towards other religions and provide a good comparison of Beliefs. So, If this belief comes after a good research, then the answer to your question is YES.

2. Doesn't God want you to be less self interested when it comes to believing in Him?

A: No, With the more belief in God, almost all the religion's pious people deviate from self interest to people interest, and it is the correct thing to follow, since following the self interest leads society no-where to, and helping the needy in the society is connected to less self interest.

3. Is brainwashing yourself into conviction a legitimate path to Islam or any Religion? (Most Important)

A: No, Brainwashing yourself into conviction is not a legitimate path to Islam. The Definition of Brainwash "You essentially brainwash yourself into true belief, so that what starts out as self-interest can actually grow into an honest conviction." is legit.

This self brainwash may come as a result of not finding answers to your questions about your religion. The sensitivity of your questions deprive you to ask them, and it eventually leads to a self brainwash. This phenomena could also be result of many contradicting answers to the questions about your religion, and the confusion it creates led a person to embrace this brainwash.

This brainwash is the most devastating to happen to anyone. The downsides are so many, that it will prolong the answer too much, but I will try to cover some.

  • You don't care about other religions and the people. The only thing you care about is your own religion and people.
  • You don't respect, anyone out of your religion.
  • You are easy to deceive into a wrong perception, led by a person from your religion.
  • You ignore intelligent and good people from other religions.
  • You give or take life, without understanding any value of life. and go on.

I as Muslim, do not follow this religion, as a brainwashed person. So the first thing to notice in me is, all those downsides in brainwashed people do not include in me. I follow Islamic rules, because it provides every right to each person in the society.

Islam has described rights of everyone, so high that, It is said, That God (ALLAH) may forgive you for his rights(worship), but will not forgive for rights of the people. Islam has defined :

  • Rules for war
  • Rules for women/children/old people in war
  • Rules for animals in war
  • Rules for trees in war
  • Rules for the dead bodies of enemies in war
  • Rules for prisoners of war
  • Rules for the rights of Prisoners of war
  • Rules for water distribution(with enemies) in war

And many more. These rules are set, must to be followed or the respected penalty will be awarded, The picture drawn about Islam nowadays is the exact opposite of the reality about Islam.

I tried to put answer short. I missed some points on purpose to make this answer more concrete. I hope this helps.

  • 1
    More than half this answer is apologetics (basically all of point 3), and none of it is sourced. According to whom is researching Islam necessary for belief to be acceptable? According to ahadith, there were people in Muhammad's time who came to him to be accepted into Islam, were taught nothing but the essentials (prayer, central doctrines), and then went home to remote places without learning any more.
    – G. Bach
    Feb 20, 2017 at 9:21
  • I just added reference for rules of war. Other then that, i tried to answer with common sense, since it was related to common sense. And please mention the apologetics area, so that it may be improved.
    – Seeker
    Feb 20, 2017 at 9:26
  • 2
    The rules of war are completely irrelevant to the question, as is the entire section 3; so is section 2.
    – G. Bach
    Feb 20, 2017 at 9:30
  • Section 2 and 3 are asked in the question. If you could improve it more, please suggest an edit.
    – Seeker
    Feb 20, 2017 at 10:24
  • 1
    @G.Bach Having reasons for faith is different from research. Those Arabs seem to have had reasons for believing in Prophet Muhammad. But nowadays researching seems to be a primary means for arriving at belief considering the extent of questions about religion. However it is not the only route to faith, since one may have belief in God based on spiritual experience rather than historical or theological inquiry.
    – infatuated
    Feb 20, 2017 at 19:21

in the name of Allah the most merciful, Allah forgive me and my ignorance.

its a question of sincerity and intention.

as Islam is based on such ideals, that at the time directly opposed the polytheist ideals that were predominating in 7th century Arabia, of trading or manipulation of a certain deity for a certain out come if certain ritual acts of worship were completed regardless of sincerity of the worshiper would cause a reaction. as to say they controlled there gods and appeased there apatite's.

as opposed to the monotheism of Islam, which by definition is the sincere submission to the will of Allah. the worshiper for fills prescribed ritual acts in the knowledge that there acceptance and rejection is based purely upon the judgment of Allah in regard to there intentions. even regardless of action, as to say; born Muslim that has prayed everyday because he wants to please his family and be seen, will not have much reward as some who prayed with sincerity once.

a person who becomes Muslim out of a logical cognitive decision that its a so called safe bet based on the evidence or arguments posed. then he has believed and accepted truly out of a conscience of the creator in Arabic taqwa fear of Allah.

the hypercritic and hierocracy is a genuine fear of every true Muslim, we pray for the purification of intention and protection from such acts that are done for other than the intention of seeking the pleasure of allah.

  • 1
    This answer would benefit from references
    – Seeker
    Mar 27, 2017 at 3:49

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