For some reason I thought of a friend's story of a drug trial he participated in in college. A pharmaceutical company was offering to pay people $1,000 to have a minor medical procedure performed in return for feedback about a new pain medication they were testing. After a quick calculation of how many six packs of Schlitz they could buy with that kind of money, my friend and his roommate signed up. Participants were aware that some people would be given the real drug, whereas others would receive only a placebo, a sugar pill, to control for potential psychological factors (e.g. people feeling pain relief because they expected to, not because the drug was actually working).
When I asked about the results my friend said that his roommate wasn't sure if he was part of the control group -- his pain was pretty bad, but it seemed to go off and on, so he was pretty sure he got the sugar pill. When I asked my friend if he thought he got the real drug, he said with a laugh, "Ooooooh, yeah. You know the real thing when you get it." In what was probably an annoying attempt to play devil's advocate, I pushed him on the issue. How did he know that the pain relief wasn't just the placebo effect, the results coming only from his mind? He responded with a laugh, "Because it completely knocked me on my a**."
Though it's not a very eloquent way to phrase it, that's how I feel about Christianity.
Every now and then I get a comment suggesting that all of changes I've seen in my life since my conversion can be chalked up to a sort of placebo effect...
Good stuff follows.