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The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration of Science and Philosophy
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The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration of Science and Philosophy

4.44  ·  Rating Details ·  323 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
"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 ...more
Paperback, 690 pages
Published June 16th 1999 by Mariner Books (first published June 1st 1978)
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Todd Hansink
Mar 13, 2009 Todd Hansink rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grand-narratives
I can't remember how I first heard of this book--probably from reading book reviews on Amazon. I must have been impressed with the reviews because I bought one but when I received my first copy I was disappointed to find that the copyright was dated 1978 and every third or fourth page was illustrated with detailed, hand-drawn sketches that reminded me of my high school Biology class where I made similar drawings of cells and plants. My first reaction was that the book was a little less than cutt ...more
Mar 13, 2009 Chris rated it it was amazing
If I were to pick one book to bring with me before being marooned on a desert island, The Seven Mysteries of Life would be it. It’s thick, full of interesting information, and the language is gorgeous. Murchie’s transcendental prose describes the miracles of two of the greatest fascinations in life: science and the soul. He wasn’t a scientist, but he believed that science could prove intangible things like the existence of the soul, the spirit, and astral planes. The first part of the book was ...more
Dean Mermell
Nov 21, 2012 Dean Mermell rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books ever, and though quite a tome, I'm due for a third reading. This book makes the connection between the natural world, physics, and "the divine". Murchie is a scientist who cannot quite accept that there is nobody behind the curtain, and yet this book never feels the least bit preachy or pedantic. It explores the unexplainable phenomena of life and says, "this is can such things be?" A must for anybody who has entertained the idea that they may be a panthe ...more
Aug 22, 2009 Ryan rated it it was amazing
I've only read a few pages of this book, but I can tell I'm going to love it. I did some additional research on Murchie, and apparently he left Christianity to join the Baihai faith which originated in modern Persia. I also read about that particular religion, and it's fascinating. The basic idea reminds me of the whole point (or what I interpreted to be the point) of John Lennon's song Imagine.

I'm not about to drop Christianity in favor of Baihai, but what I have read of this book makes a whole
John Rogers
Mar 20, 2007 John Rogers rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone curious
The best book I have ever read, and continue to read often. It you have an interest in restoring, growing or discovering your wonder, this is the book.

Murchie is a modern day Leonardo, who has mastered so many pursuits it's astonishing. The first half of the book is an exhaustive description of the natural world and how everything works from trees to individual cells, the life of dunes, to 26 human senses (not just 5). These things are described in ways that are revelatory...such new and excelle
Apr 24, 2012 Ashley rated it it was amazing
This is one book that I enjoy reading slow. There is an abundance of information and each page seems to fascinate me more and more. It's mind blowing to say the least, but I suppose that is the result of 17 years writing and exploring. I recommend this book to any human being living on planet Earth.
Oct 14, 2008 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The science and theoretical stretches Murchie attempts are generally weak (and maybe even a bit mystical or spiritually pious), but the whole is an effective and tremendously substantial meditation on the utter bizarreness of biology. I like his scalar format, but there's a tendency toward extreme brevity that is sometimes frustrating in the more interesting parts. understandable, given the scope and goals of his book. I groaned at the fabulism of an exploration of the 'seven mysteries' of life ...more
Apr 07, 2011 Bernard marked it as to-read
Shelves: own
I saw this book while browsing in a book store; I read a few pages and was very interested. But then I noticed it had been publish in 1978. that turned me off, since it is an exploration of science and philosophy. It is surly outdated. Back at home I googled it and found a review of the book on Goodreads by someone who had the same concern that i had but read it anyway, he gave it 5 stars. So I decided to give it a try. By the way, that is the day I joined Goodreads.

I'm reading this one really s
Jjohnson The Delicatemonster
Nov 13, 2007 Jjohnson The Delicatemonster rated it it was amazing
A nearly bottomless book of inspiration and delight--one of those take to a deserted islands books...part biology, part math, part mystery. Transformational and poetic.

Now here's an anecdote to explain how good this book was. Every other weekend for about four months I have to go to gymn meets which are by turns excruciatingly boring events (hour upon hours of the routines, by the approximate same level of talent) with the occasional flashes of mind numbing anxiety and fear (at least for a pare
Apr 28, 2007 Scott rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Humans
This is one of the most influential books I've ever read. I own multiple copies and I've read it many times. Murchie spent 18 years writing it. He illustrated it by hand. Every page has its own title. I've never read a book so lovingly created. He makes hard science read like poetry.
Tommy Estlund
Jan 13, 2014 Tommy Estlund rated it did not like it
Jun 03, 2013 Justin rated it it was amazing
Which came first: the hen or the egg? If you consider this question as classic and unanswerable, then your knowledge of science needs brushing up! Of course, the egg is easily proclaimed the winner by half a billion years as the hen has only been here for fifty million years.

This is just one of the lighter gems found in one of the most wonderful books ever written: The Seven Mysteries of Life by Guy Murchie. Here, a look at the first mystery which he calls The Abstract Nature of the Universe. Mu
Stephanie Middleton
Dec 06, 2007 Stephanie Middleton rated it it was amazing
It's crazy to me that I never quite finished this book. It's such an AMAZING read, and I plan to finish it one of these days. It's super-long and very scientific though, so I always read it in small increments. If I put it down for too long, though, I forget what I learned and have to start over again!

I do want to go on record to say that this is still one of my favorite books. It's a perfect, non-didactic marriage between science, philosophy, and spirituality, and every time I pick it up I'm le
Jan 08, 2016 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: nature
The first part is a survey of scientific knowledge which highlights the great variety and variation in life forms. The second part introduces the seven mysteries that he has discovered in the world. The author had been a member of the B'Hai faith for many years when he published this book and B'Hai also has seven mysteries. His seven mysteries are Abstraction -the regularity and pattern of matter and energy, Interrelatedness of all things, Omnipresence of life everywhere, Polarity - the principl ...more
Sep 17, 2015 Martin rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have ever read. Definitely gives you a new perspective on all tangible aspects of life. Plus the story itself how long this book took for the author. (18 years in total. That would make on average a sentence a day, making it really though out and compressed. And he even illustrated it himself.) I guess you could call Guy Murchie a true renaissance man delivering knowledge from all endless categories of science to the fields of spirituality. I would recommend this book to ...more
Jul 21, 2015 J rated it really liked it
This is a well-put-together cosmology-philosophy book . At times I found Murchie to be a little long-winded in his fascination with existence, although, I suppose that was the point. His writing is vivid, even when it's about something entirely abstract. Also, if you're already well-read in science, some of the chapters will be a review for you. The end, when he gets to his points about transcendence and divinity, is pretty solid. Enjoyable, but I personally left feeling underwhelmed by the dept ...more
Mar 22, 2016 Joseph rated it it was amazing
You must read this book. Oh wayfarer on this floating orb with the desire and thirst for cosmic inspiration. Yes you. This book will change you in indescribable ways. Never have I experienced such a mind numbing look at the majesty of the chaos and harmony that comprises the current state of reality as we know it (or don't know it). This is not a book you critique. This is not a book you worry about. These are the quintessential pros for our species regardless of your disposition.

And yes, I am
Jul 31, 2012 Cameron rated it it was amazing
I first saw this book sitting on a coffee table overlooking the Caribbean sea in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Curious, I cracked it open to a random page and started reading. I almost could not stop reading, I was instantly hooked. Later, when I returned home, I ordered a copy on Amazon and devoured all 600+ pages over the course of a few weeks. There are so many fascinating facts about the natural world that are integrated with philosophy and spirituality, it makes it much more interesting than a bi ...more
Josh Marquart
Apr 01, 2008 Josh Marquart rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book really challenged my own concept of what is or is not life or living (and no, it's not a book about abortion). It really dives into a lot of fascinating facts about the earth: from amoebas to rocks to human interaction with our world.

I've read this book twice and really come to have a much greater appreciation for what nature has built around us. It has also pushed me to try perspectives that I had never thought of.
Jul 13, 2009 James rated it really liked it
A wonderful trip into the science and mystery of life. Murchie sometimes tries too hard to find divine meaning in everything, but his poetic prose and mystical vision did affect me. His appreciation for "all life, in all worlds" is contagious and his knowledge of the natural sciences is impressive. Despite a few parts being outdated and a lack of a proper bibliography, I strongly recommended everyone read this book.
May 09, 2007 Bri rated it it was amazing
an appreciative exploration of life, science, and existence. Definitely not a book for critical scientists, but a beautifully illustrated experiment in imaginative thinking.

Not a straight read-through, but best for skimming and simply opening to a page and reading a few anecdotes (700 pgs or so). Written by a Baha'i, I believe.
Lana Lee
Feb 17, 2009 Lana Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly easy read considering the scope of topics covered. Perhaps a little outdated given the incredible advances in genetics, technology in the recent past. However, the information is well researched,arguments were subtle but compelling. My pick for the one book I could take to desert island.
Jan 14, 2009 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
Very dense, super packed with information about everything and anything living. At times it is more difficult to follow- but if you keep focused there is soo much to learn and it's all fascinating! I cannot imagine the author of this book as being human, his perspective is so broad and all encompassing. I have a feeling I might not ever finish it, but it is certainly worth the effort.
Mar 19, 2011 Arturo rated it it was amazing
Indeed, it is an exploration in our cosmos of wonders. The author is Baha'i and according to the faith science and religion don't confront each other. So using science and philosophy as tools he takes you to a point which one not only comprehends the universe as sophisticated and beautiful but also divine and sacred.
What a book! I believe everybody should read it.
Toby Elliott
Sep 01, 2009 Toby Elliott rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lost
so interesting! have never (will never) finish this one. love to page through it randomly and find things that i didn't know. about the hunger of shrews. or the parts of a tree. and it's all told in such lyrical, expansive prose. a must-have.
Nov 24, 2011 Beamzley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: enjoyed
I read this book back in the 80's and it formed a foundation of sorts for my own philosophy. It's a very fundamental book about an extremely elevated perspective. This is a must read for teen agers and all agers in my mind.
May 25, 2014 Sally rated it really liked it
An amazing book on God, life, the universe, biology, the mind, physics, and more. It is thought provoking, and because of its length and writing style, best read in long sessions. The book left me feeling unworried with life and death.
Roger Cole
Oct 06, 2016 Roger Cole rated it it was amazing
I read this book in my mid-twenties; I am now in my mid-fifties. It remains one of if not the most influential, inspiring and beautiful books I have ever read. Filled with the wonder and awesomeness of life! Today begins my second reading.
Tim VanSant
May 17, 2010 Tim VanSant rated it really liked it
I've read this book a couple times. While the science is getting out-of-date, I like the premise of musing on philosophical questions in the light of sciences like biology, geology, sociology, mathematics, and physics. It always gives me plenty to think about.
Dec 08, 2011 Cari rated it it was amazing
A mixture of philosophy, science, and enchanting eloquent writing. You will not be bored. The book is divided into chapters, and each chapter into one/two/three page sections. Every section brings some new facts and interesting ideas that make you ponder.
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Full of Insight, and humor, but also very educational . 1 9 Jan 07, 2009 08:14AM  
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Guy Murchie (Jr.) son of Ethel A. and Guy Murchie (Sr) was a Chicago Tribune photographer, staff artist and reporter, who had served as a war correspondent in England and Iceland from 1940 to 1942. He was briefly married to Barbara Cooney.

He was a flight instructor and a practising member of the Bahá'í Faith. His books included Men on the Horizon (1932), Song of the Sky (1954), Music of the Sphere
More about Guy Murchie...

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“In other words there is something otherworldly about our existence here --something more than matter, more than the body and mind we have been discussing -- in short, something fundamentally and profoundly abstract. And I mention this aspect because it is not at all obvious, indeed scarcely notices by the great majority of us as we go about our daily lives.” 3 likes
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