"She (nature) destroys us--coldly, cruelly, relentlessly, as it seems to us, and possibly through the very things that occasioned our satisfaction. it was precisely because of these dangers with which nature threatens us that we came together and created civilization, which is also, among other things, intended to make our communal life possible. For the principal task of civilization, its actual rasion d' etre, is to defend us against nature.
We all know that in many ways civilization does this fairly well already, and clearly as time gos on it will do it much better. But no one is under the illusion that nature has already been vanquished; and few dare hope she will ever be entirely subjected to man. There are the elements, which seem to mock at all human control: the earth, which quakes and is torn apart and buries all human life and its works; water, which deluges and drowns everything in a turmoil; storms, which blow everything before them; there are diseases, which we have only recently recognized as attacks by other organisms; and finally there is the painful riddle of death, against which no medicine has yet been found, nor probably will be. With these forces of nature rises up against us, majestic, cruel and inexorable; she brings to our mind once more our weakness and helplessness, which we thought to escape through the work of civilization... For the individual, too, life is hard to bear, just as it is for mankind in general. The civilization in which he participates imposes some amount of privation on him, and other men bring him a measure of suffering, either in spite of the precepts of his civilization or because of its imperfections. To this are added the injuries which untamed nature--he calls it Fate--inflicts on him. One might suppose that this condition of things would result in a permanent state of anxious expectation in him and a severe injury to his natural narcissism...how does he defend himself against the superior powers of nature, of Fate, which threaten him as they threaten all the rest?
Civilization relieves him of this task...Man's self regard, seriously menaced, calls for consolation; life and the universe must be robbed of its terrors...And thus a store of ideas is created, born from man's need to make his helplessness tolerable and built up from the material of memories of the helplessness of his own childhood and the childhood of the human race. It can clearly be seen that the possession of these ideas protects him in two directions--against the dangers of nature and Fate, and against the injuries that threaten him from human society itself."
Excerpt from Freud's "The Future of an Illusion"