If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature. But no, reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine reason.
Notice the “if-then” in the Pope’s statement followed by a “but no.” In place of accident is reason—divine reason.
Wordsworth reflected a similar contrast (or tension) in his famous Ode: Intimations of Immortality (1807), beginning his poem with a lament at his adult inability to access awe toward the ontological mystery (the mystery of being) in the manner of his youth:
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
Wordsworth’s opening irony is contrasted by lines 58-71 of the same poem, which offers a theory about our true situation that is quite similar to the Pope’s:
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
Beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy; . . .
What the Pope said affirms hope and meaning, and Wordsworth’s poem is beautiful, but what, do you suppose, is actually (and ultimately) true about the human condition?
I think the best we can say at this point is this: the confident atheist and the confident theist are both whistling in the dark. We don’t really know what’s going on (and may never know).