The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration In Science & Philosophy By Guy Murchie Number Of Pages: 690 Publication Date: 1978 ISBN-10 / ASIN: 0395263107 ISBN-13 / EAN: 9780395263105
Guy Murchie writes with exceptional skill and encyclopedic depth about the nature of life. The author, by turns a schoolteacher, pilot, journalist, and photographer, seems to have absorbed facts over a long lifetime like the proverbial sponge. Assuming the perspective of an observer outside earth, he explores all nooks and crannies, marveling at the diversity and abundance of life forms. His first sections are Aristotelian - a natural history of animals highlighting the extremes of physiological adaptation that have enabled creatures to live at the depths of ocean trenches, in the deepest caves, at high altitude or in desert heat and drought. The reader, cued by the magic seven and the mysteries of the title, will not be surprised that Murchie looks beyond appearances to find a guiding hand or immanent presence. These possibilities are explored in the latter half of the huge book. Progressing from the first mystery, the abstract nature of the universe; the second, the interrelatedness of life; third, its omnipresence; fourth, the polarity principle; Murchie moves on to mysteries five, six, and seven: transcendence (including a discussion of death), the germination of the world, and the ultimate mystery - divinity. Connecting the sections is the dynamism of life, a Heraclitean theme that all things change. Here lies the source of growth and development and of numerous analogies between living and non-living forms. Skeptics or strictly rationalist readers ought not to be put off by Murchie's frank mystical bent, for the references to particular orthodox schools or leaders are not intrusive. Instead there is a steady amassing of observations in science and often striking comparisons (a splatter of milk and the movement of a jellyfish, for example). Whether tuned to Murchie's particular music of the spheres or not, readers perusing the volume can come away with a refreshing array of natural lore, analogies, and insights often quite eloquently expressed.
"All life in all worlds" -this was the object of the author's seventeen-year quest for knowledge and discovery, culminating in this book. In a manner unmistakably his own, Murchie delves into the interconnectedness of all life on the planet and of such fields as biology, geology, sociology, mathematics, and physics. He offers us what the poet May Sarton has called "a good book to take to a desert island as sole companion, so rich is it in knowledge and insight."