Although I also happen to agree that there is clear evidence for the utility of religious belief in dealing with questions of our mortality, its extension into so many other realms of experience is more often than not distracting or sometimes downright harmful.

I would have preferred an answer to the actual question, namely regarding the rationality of religious belief. Rationality and utility are not identical. I doubt that religious believers of any stripe consider the usefulness of their faith as a rationale for holding their belilefs - at least not in those terms.

I'm interested in any responses you folks out there might have, as well as Dr. Ariels's.