Rick (me) spoke today about how humans use religion as a form of adaptation much the same as any other evolutionary adaptation.  I used my recent experience finding out about Huguenots in France to show how Calvinism took hold of the Protestant Reformation.  It did so precisely because Calvin's new ideas about Christianity fit nicely with the changing times of the late 1590's. 

One of the tenets of Calvinism was (and to a certain extent still is) predestination.  Luther believed in (mostly) universal salvation, Jacob Arminius preached good works will get you to heaven and Calvin believed that the ones destined for heaven were already chosen by God.  This makes it very difficult to decide how to live a Christian life.  The ever expanding middle class in the 1500's (refer to your old High School world history text for "rise of the middle class") liked what they saw in Calvinism.  They were prosperous, and others were not.  It was logical for them to assume that they were among those who were chosen by god.  ...because, after all, they were prosperous and it seemed logical that God had chosen them for salvation since God had chosen them to receive the wealth of the middle class. 

This started to go badly from the beginning because it enabled them to look down their nose at those who were not as rich as them.  We discussed the negative implications of automatically assuming that God somehow had chosen poor people to be poor.  I even got into a little art history to show how this is playing out in the art world at the time.

Of course, in the modern world, we still have people and organizations who believe that god favors the wealthy over the poor.  We had a lively discussion afterward on this and related topics.

Come on down and find out about the stuff we discuss every week.