I was ranting this morning about the mistaken idea that finding a scientific explanation for something or other provides some sort of evidence for naturalism. In response to which, Esteemed Husband produced the following quotation. (One of the neat things about being married to someone who knows so much about the history of ideas is that there is a quotation for everything.)
With Empirical philosophy, considered as a tentative contribution to the theory of science, I have no desire to pick a quarrel. That it should fail is nothing. Other philosophies have also failed. Such is, after all, the common lot. That it should have been contrived to justify conclusions already accepted is, if a fault at all—which I doubt—at least a most venial one, and one, moreover, which it has committed in the best of philosophic company. That it should derive some moderate degree of imputed credit from the universal acceptance of the scientific beliefs which it countersigns, may be borne with, though for the real interests of speculative inquiry this has been, I think, a misfortune. But that it should develop into naturalism, and then, on the strength of labours which it has not endured, of victories which it has not won, and of scientific triumphs in which it has no right to share, presume, in despite of its speculative insufficiency, to dictate terms of surrender to every other system of belief, is altogether intolerable. Who would pay the slightest attention to naturalism if it did not force itself into the retinue of science, assume her livery, and claim, as a kind of poor relation, in some sort to represent her authority and to speak with her voice? Of itself it is nothing. It neither ministers to the needs of mankind, nor does it satisfy their reason. And if, in spite of this, its influence has increased, is increasing, and as yet shows no sign of diminution, if more and more the educated and the half-educated are acquiescing in its pretensions, and, however reluctantly, submitting to its domination, this is at least in part because they have not learned to distinguish between the practical and inevitable claims which experience has on their allegiance, and the speculative but quite illusory title by which the empirical school have endeavoured to associate naturalism and science in a kind of joint supremacy over the thoughts and consciences of mankind.
Arthur James Balfour, The Foundations of Belief, 8th ed. (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1906), pp. 135-36.
Note: Balfour in the context appears to be using "naturalism" in a methodological sense to refer to a particular type of aggressive methodological empiricism. The quote works, however, as well if not better if one reads it as referring to "naturalism" in its contemporary and metaphysical sense. And of course the two things are in a very real sense kissing cousins.