With a solid belief in materialism then, the warm comfort that religion and spirituality provide is suddenly uncovered. To some, the cold, unforgiving universe is just too difficult to bear, and even though they have reasoned for the possibility of a material universe, they would rather the universe have a pre-purpose (an intelligence at work often referred to as "the primary mover"). They can compartmentalized their illogical beliefs to allow them to function even within the realms of science, but the psychological comfort of religion and spirituality are difficult to break. The inevitable truth however is that the universe truly is a hostile place to live in. There's only one way to be born (when sperm meets egg, at least for now), but incomprehensibly vast ways to die. As the famous contemporary astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson has described; on a galactic scale, one can be torched by supernovas, gamma ray blasts, active galactic nuclei, black holes, etc. Even just on a global scale, one can succumb to hurricanes, earthquakes, famines, tornadoes, volcanoes, ice ages, tsunamis and other such natural disasters. Within just our daily neighborhood and social interactions, one can suffer in the hands of carjackers, murderers, school shooters, swat officers mistaking addresses, drunk drivers, sinkholes, etc. With all of these seemingly malevolent forces at play, it is a wonder we continue to survive and thrive. Many liken this survival to a god-like entity, but they ignore the violent universe in which we've come to exist. This is not a perfect place that's created just for us to enjoy, but nevertheless, we must make the most of it. Life then is so fragile, even so much as a cosmic whisper can sterilize it without malice or criminal intent. Knowing all this, and rejecting the supernatural does lead to a dilemma of sorts. How are we to continue on with our lives knowing and accepting that we live in such an ambivalent, unforgiving and apathetic place?
In conclusion, to some degree, religion and spirituality provides people with a type of psychological comfort, but science, although intuitively more difficult to grasp has rewards beyond mere dogma and faith. Science allows us to view the universe beyond the physical tools of our evolutionary past. We have come so far, not just as creatures with 4.3 billion years of evolution behind us, but as a culturally dominant force with just 10,000 years of major growth. Evidence for our external phenotype (to borrow a concept from the eminent evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins) is all around us. The genes of the beaver (their genotype), for example, have evolved to provide it dense fur for warmth, an oily coat for better insulation, perpetually growing front teeth for gnawing wood, etc. These external characteristics, called the phenotype, can be furthered by the actions of the beaver on its environment. Beaver dams are a result of all of the special genes within a beaver allowing it to construct such a complex structure (external phenotype). Likewise, humans have also evolved certain genes that allow us to not only alter our environment for comfort, but expand on our genetic template. Our cultural evolution is unprecedented in the biological world, and our reasoning abilities provide us the tools to expand beyond our genetic constraints. I believe that it would be a shame to have evolved, both genetically and culturally to such an introspective point, and then throw it all away because of our need for comfort and warmth. We can derive comfort and warmth knowing that life is so fragile and fleeting that we must do all we can to appreciate it to the fullest. Of prime importance is understanding who we are, where we come from, and where as a species we're headed. Keeping such an optimistic view in light of a random and chaotic universe can by hard at times, but humans prosper and thrive under adversity. After all, adversity is the invisible hand that guides evolution and natural selection. Thus, adversity can also guide our cultural, ethical, and moral behavior.