Guy Murchie (Jr.) (25 January 1907 - 8 July 1997), the 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 (1944–1947), with whom he shared two children (Gretel and Barnaby). 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 Spheres (1961), and The Seven Mysteries of Life (1978). Murchie also illustrated his books with etchings and woodcuts of his own design. The American Museum of Natural History awarded him the John Burroughs Medal in 1956 for Song of the Sky.
The Seven Mysteries of Life
In his The Seven Mysteries of Life all knowledge is organized around seven philosophical principles - ideas like transcendence and vitality, "In some sense, I have little doubt, that genes know what they are doing, for they are memory incarnate, letters of living purpose, the script of life in a material universe." "When you look at a planet whole, from outside, for the first time, certain things come clear that you never could be quite sure of before. One is a persistent feeling that all the inhabitants of that world must be related." Murchie invited those who saw themselves as spiritual or religious to appreciate the wondrous complexities of nature with the same sensibility that they used to celebrate their deities.
His observations included that there are degrees of sex, rather than just the two opposite extremes. Going beyond the acknowledged traditional five senses, he observed up to a total of 32 other senses exist, including the sense of time and the sense of fear.
However, one of his greatest contributions was in the concept of the superorganism. Murchie notes that often groups behave as an individual organism. He asks "Who runs an ant colony?" "How do ants decide to move their nest somewhere else?" Similarly, bees of a beehive communicate (at least as far as directing their fellow bees to food) with a language which is made of dance steps (including sounds and smells). The ant colony and the beehive behave like a single organism with its own mind: a beehive metabolizes, has a cognitive life (makes decisions), acts (it can move, attack) and so forth. In this scenario, language can be viewed from a different perspective, as the mechanism that allows the organism to be one. Where does language come from is a question that does not only apply to humans, but to all species, each species having its own "language". Murchie further envisioned the earth as a single organism. On his view, all living organisms, along with all the minerals on the surface of the Earth, compose one giant integrated system that controls its behavior so as to survive as a whole. Galaxies can be viewed analogously. After all, living beings are made of star dust. Life is inherent in nature. To this effect, Murchie describes sophisticated geologic phenomena such as sand dunes, glaciers, fires, etc. as living organisms, as well as the life of metals and crystals. The question is not whether there is life outside our planet, but whether it is possible to have "nonlife".
Murchie also expounded on the properties of mind. He states that memory is ubiquitous (i.e., all over the place) in nature. For example, energy conservation is a form of memory (an elastic band remembers how much energy was put into stretching it and eventually goes back to the original position). Thus, mind in this sense is a universal aspect of life and energy. Murchie believed that there is one huge mind, the "thinking layer" around the Earth, which corresponds to the noosphere. Individual consciousnesses are absorbed into the superconsciousness of a social group, which is part of a superconsciousness of the world. In Murchie's opinion, the world has a soul, analogous to Pythagoreans' "anima mundi" and to the Hindu concept that Atman equals Brahman.
Murchie further speculated on the origin of death. Death is an evolutionary advantage: immortal beings that did not change would be easy prey to environmental changes. Death allows for regeneration and for the creation of new species. Death is a tool for change and progress.
- History of The Fairways Manor House Bed and Breakfast
- Favorable Impressions Barbara Cooney 1917-2000
- The Seven Mysteries of Life ISBN 0-395-95791-5
- Music of the Spheres: The Material Universe from Atom to Quasar, Simply Explained ISBN 0-486-21809-0
- Song of the sky ISBN 0-87165-030-4
- The Soul School: Confessions of a Passenger on Planet Earth ISBN 1-56474-105-2