Science is a sublimely human activity and a central part of the best of Western culture…and of every culture on earth that aspires to be something more than a collection of dirt-grubbing subsistence breeders, propagating for the sake of propagating. It's what gives us the potential to reach beyond making do, that gives us the leisure and freedom to flower in the arts and explore the diversity of human experience. Even institutionalized religion itself is an incidental byproduct of the first clever dicks who thought to reroute the flow of a river to irrigate fields and led to centralization, urbanization, hierarchies of leadership, accounting, writing, and the whole avalanche of change that followed. It's important.
Unscientific America and those awful atheists - Pharyngula
Excellent statement, it's well worth reading that article!