John Ray on science
Actually, this quote is John Ray on botany, but I think it applies to a lot of science. It comes from his Catalogus Plantarum circa Cantabrigiam nascentium (1660), here given as an English translation from Ray's Flora of Cambridgeshire (Trans. Ewen and Prime, Wheldon & Wesley, Hitchin, Herts, 1975?):
I readily admit, that, as human affairs are now, such studies do not greatly contribute to the accumulation of wealth or to the winning of favor of our fellow-men, nevertheless I know of no occupation which is more worthy or more delightful for a free man than to contemplate the beauteous works of Nature and to honour the infinite wisdom and goodness of God the Creator.