The follwing quote taken from an Op–Ed piece in the New York Times by Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth and a member of the House of Lords, is the clear, intelligent explaination of why religion matters.
“… religion … It reconfigures our neural pathways, turning altruism into instinct, through the rituals we perform, the texts we read and the prayers we pray. It remains the most powerful community builder the worid has known. Religion binds individuals into groups through habits of altruism, creating relationships of trust strong enough to defeat destructive emotions. Far from refuting religion, the Neo-Darwinists have helped us understand why it matters.”