30 November 2008


In 2006, Philosopher Dan Dennett was admitted into hospital in an emergency. In his own words:
I was rushed by ambulance to a hospital where it was determined by c-t scan that I had a "dissection of the aorta"—the lining of the main output vessel carrying blood from my heart had been torn up, creating a two—channel pipe where there should only be one. Fortunately for me, the fact that I'd had a coronary artery bypass graft seven years ago probably saved my life, since the tangle of scar tissue that had grown like ivy around my heart in the intervening years reinforced the aorta, preventing catastrophic leakage from the tear in the aorta itself. After a nine-hour surgery, in which my heart was stopped entirely and my body and brain were chilled down to about 45 degrees to prevent brain damage from lack of oxygen until they could get the heart-lung machine pumping, I am now the proud possessor of a new aorta and aortic arch, made of strong Dacron fabric tubing sewn into shape on the spot by the surgeon, attached to my heart by a carbon-fiber valve that makes a reassuring little click every time my heart beats.

In the wake of his epiphany, he said "thank goodness". In his own words again, "there is a lot of goodness in this world, and more goodness every day, and this fantastic human-made fabric of excellence is genuinely responsible for the fact that I am alive today. It is a worthy recipient of the gratitude I feel today, and I want to celebrate that fact here and now."

To his religious friends who have prayed from him, he has gladly forgiven them. The reasons he said he has forgiven those who prayed for him are clearly explained in his article. I cannot do justice to summarize them here. For those who are time-poor, read the last 4 paragraphs of his article linked to this title.

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