Every change is, therefore, A process in which energy acts UPON matter in space during time. The most complicated change is nothing more and the simplest is nothing less. Energy, matter, space and time, being necessary and sufficient for every change capable of cognition, constitute the physical elements of the Universe.
The study of these elements and their relations to one another supplies a rational explanation, or at least affords a means of finding a rational explanation, for every observed phenomenon. By a rational explanation is meant an account of the causes and effects concerned in a fact established or made known through the organs of sense, an account which involves no contradiction or double meaning of any of the terms employed and no contradiction of the observations of normal sense. By an “explanation” we do not mean an attempt to account for the origin, purpose or destiny of anything, but merely an attempt to state the relations of all of the causes and effects.
No explanation of anything can do more. We do not even claim that a rational explanation is necessarily the statement of an absolute truth. An explanation may be entirely rational, as above defined, and may be entirely satisfactory with reference to and in accordance with the known facts, and yet, may later be found to be entirely erroneous. For example, in the Eighteenth Century the phlologist theory of matter was entirely rational and stated in a highly satisfactory manner the relations of causes and effects as they were then known. But that theory has now been entirely abandoned and shown to be impossible by the most overwhelming evidence.
Nevertheless, in its time, it was a rational and an irrational explanation of an account which involves some contradiction, explicit or implied, either of the terms employed or of the facts established through normal sense. No rational explanation or account can be given of the origin of the Universe as such, nor of any part of it, because there can be no proof or evidence adduced, and, hence, no knowledge in reference to such questions.
***Excerpt from Charles John Reed: The Law of Vital Infusion and the Phenomenon of Consciousness