Month: October 2015

Nietzsche’s Philosophy is Self-Defeating and He Admits It

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Nietzsche’s work at first glance seems scholarly and erudite, but after careful analysis, its filled with enigmatic aphorisms that are oftentimes contradictory and incoherent. Of course, Nietzsche embraced contradictions because he presupposed humans were irrational creatures trying to find universal truth through “pounding uncertainty into straight arrows.” He wrote about this in his book Human, All Too Human.

For Nietzsche, what these philosophers were doing was running from their own humanity by attempting to make objective claims in a relativistic world where there is no absolute truth. He thought these objective claims were not justifiable, even criticizing scientists for definitively asserting the law of gravity or the Earth revolving around the Sun.

This type of extreme skepticism, in my opinion, does not correspond to the nature of reality. For instance, we can determine that we are thinking beings. “I think, therefore I am.” We have the ability to know the speed of light travels at 186,000 miles per second. There is an intuitive understanding that a square circle is inconceivable or a person can not be both A and non-A at the same time and in the same place; the law of non-contradiction.

Ironically, Nietzsche commits the same mistake he blames his predecessors for doing. While he affirms the multiplicity of perspectives, such as the slave morality from Christianity and the master morality from the Greco-Romans, he imposes his “Will to Power” philosophy as the highest ideal, the better way to overcome these inferior perspectives. He asserts, absolutely: “We must move beyond good and evil.” Thus, while affirming his objective stance on his will to power and simultaneously arguing no such truth exists, he contradicts himself.

As you are aware, his philosophy has been known as Nihilism because it believes in the rejection of all religious and moral principles; that nothing in the world has a real existence. The question I have for Nietzsche would be: “How do you know this for certainty?” How do you know there is no such thing as good or evil, but just a will to power?

It would seem to me, on the basis of extreme skepticism, you could never formulate any epistemological framework. Without knowledge, even asking these questions are itself meaningless. Thus, you would never derive at any sort of self-actualization of the will, which was Nietzsche’s hope in his eternal recurrence of events for the powerful overman: To see the entirety of what is as necessary for his own existence.

If you want to know my opinion, I think truth can be found in the God-Man Jesus Christ, who clearly revealed his plan for all of us. Truth is not found solely in an ideology, logic, or science, but also in a personal relationship with a Creator. Thanks again for your article. Have a good day.

American Christian, Who Do You Worship?

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Hebrews 9:1 says, “Now the First covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary.”

The word worship comes from the old English word “Worth-ship”. This is a stronger term than honor and adoration you would offer to a human being—only a Supreme Being God is worthy of worship. Ironically, a word that is closely associated with this expression is one we use all the time: Anyone want to take a guess at what word this might be?

Awesome—extremely impressive; inspiring great “awe” or wonder. We might say that was an awesome dunk, or I had an awesome week for Fantasy Football, but this word really should be reserved for the greatest maximal being in the universe, who is God. Don’t get me wrong. YouTube videos showing the top 10 dunks for the week in the NBA are cool, Fantasy Football is fun, but they are not awesome. They are of little value compared to a God who created more than 10 trillion stars in the universe.

Unfortunately, all of us humans have a worship problem. Do you know what God calls this when we worship something other than Himself? Idolatry. Typically, when people hear the word idol they think of an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. For instance, when I lived in Louisville I visited the Hindu Temple and they have hundreds of gods. The god of fate, the god of wisdom, the god of death, the god of victory, etc. And they create little shrines of worship devoted to these gods. They feed them food, light candles, pray, and put clothes on them. This, of course, is idolatry.

As Americans, most of us don’t carve wooden idols in our homes and fall down and worship them. Instead, we desensitize our religious nature by calling false gods entertainment, extracurricular activities, social media, hobbies, lifestyle choices, shopping, and so on. But you know what idolatry really is? It’s simply whatever you spend the most time doing or thinking about. If someone were to follow you around for a whole week, and they tallied up the number of hours you spent on a certain thought or object, that’s what you worship!

When we put anything before God, we have a worship problem. That’s why God wants them to get focused on building Him a place of worship. He even gets real specific, but He should since He is worthy of worship. He tells them in verses 3-7 to get a tabernacle where God’s presence dwells, to get a lampstand symbolizing the light of truth and revelation, the table and sacred bread which represented Gods promised physical provision for the twelve tribes of Jacob, the golden altar of incense to produce thick smoke which concealed Yahweh’s presence over the ark.

The ark of the covenant contained a golden jar holding manna, reminding the people of the miracle God performed in the wilderness, Aaron’s rod, which budded confirming the leadership of Moses and Aaron. The whole sanctuary, everything, was meant to all symbolize and point to God. To point to His goodness, His love, His mercy, His holiness, His patience, and His forgiveness.

Read verses 8-14. Wow. So the author of Hebrews shows the difference between the earthly services of this world versus the heavenly service not of this creation. He contrasts the tabernacle constructed by the hands of men to a heavenly temple not made with hands. He talks about the external effects of animal sacrifices and ceremonial cleansing of worship to the internal effects of Jesus Christ, the only blood that truly cleanses our conscience from dead works to serve Him, the living God. Lastly, he shows how the regulations and rituals from the temple are only temporary but the promise of having a relationship with God is eternal. This is powerful.

Analyze verses 24-28. One common truth about false gods like food, entertainment, success, money, achievement, romance, and family is they will never truly satisfy your soul, and that’s why as Americans we suffer from consumerism overload. I have Netflix, please don’t judge me. And at the tip of my finger, I can watch over 50 episodes of my favorite television show. I can spend countless hours on the altar of my couch giving homage to the TV god. Whatever the case may be, God calls us to get rid of our idols if we want to have true freedom in Christ.

That’s my challenge for you today—if you are a believer, I challenge you to spend more time in your Bible than whatever your greatest idol is: If it’s social media, try to limit your access to it. If you get an urge to see how many likes you will receive from a picture you posted, then don’t post a picture and read the Bible instead. If you get excited this Wednesday about preparing for your Fantasy Football line-up for Sunday, and you start analyzing all the scores and teammates from other teams, try to find time in there to also read your Bible. And let’s be honest, some of your best scoring points come when you don’t prepare your line-up, so just don’t waste too much time.

If you are an unbeliever who is skeptical about God, I want you to at least be open to the fact that humans have a natural tendency to devote their attention to certain events or objects. Yes, we might call it a nice word like materialism or consumerism, but have you thought about calling it for what it is? Religious devotion? If you think this might be true, I challenge you to see if the God of the Bible is really more inspiring than a touchdown catch or a World Series victory that only lasts for a moment in time. God’s inspiration lasts for eternity.

What is the Difference Between General and Special Revelation?

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The Psalmist proclaims: “Heaven is declaring God’s glory; the sky is proclaiming his handiwork (Ps. 19:1).” Next, David states in verse 7, “The Lord’s instruction is perfect, reviving one’s very being.” These two statements have often been associated with general and special revelation because they both unveil the character of God. In this paper, I will define both of these terms and describe the nature of their authority as well as their relationship to one another.

What do stars, birds, earthquakes, waterfalls, and trees all have in common? They express the general revelation of God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature (Rom. 1:20). This knowledge is self-evident to every human being, regardless of their religious orientation. Therefore, because creation and intelligent design implies a Creator, who has revealed His attributes, all people are without excuse when they deny God’s existence.

Furthermore, the apostle Paul stated even unbelievers, who have no written record of God’s law, still know intuitively moral rightness and wrongness due to their conscience. The Bible states: “When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts (Rom. 2:14-15).” Consequently, when people disobey their consciences, they are sinning against God and will be rightfully judged for their wrongdoing, even apart from the law.[1]

When one discusses special revelation, they are referring to God manifesting Himself fully to “particular persons at definite times and places, enabling those persons to enter into a redemptive relationship with God.”[2] Before humanity fell into sin, they had a proper relationship with God. However, after the fall, their understanding of spiritual matters became fractured. The pieces needed to be put back together through re-entering a covenantal relationship with God. This communication started with the patriarchs, then through the prophets, and culminated in the person of Jesus Christ (Heb. 1).

For instance, most Americans know about the President of the United States. They see him on Television, read about him in the newspaper, and know he lives at the White House in Washington D.C. All of us have this general revelation. Conversely, when an individual meets the President and communes with him, they have a personal connection. They might speak directly to him, laugh at his jokes, or enjoy spending time together. The same is true with God and believers. They have a special revelation about God because they have entered into a personal relationship with Him. God has given all people the opportunity to meet Him (Matt. 7:7), but he will never force it. Free will makes the final decision, and sadly, most people end up rejecting God and replace Him with false gods—self, creation, money, job status, education, family, etc.

In conclusion, the Scripture makes it clear that all people have a general understanding of who God is. He has revealed himself through creation and our conscience. More importantly, God desires people to read the Bible in order to gain a salvific understanding. For he has said: “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4).” That’s why it’s vital for believers to share their faith with those who never heard the good news concerning salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:15). Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, so every people group can have a special revelation of who God is in Christ.

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 122

[2] Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, p.201

Can Secular Psychology and Biblical Counseling Find Common Ground?

Common grace is the blessing God bestows upon every created being, both the saved and the unsaved. Examples of common grace include the beauty of nature, intellectual discovery, moral accountability, relationship building, and physical health.[1] In this paper, I will explain whether secular Psychologists use common grace to properly diagnose the human condition or oppose the biblical counseling worldview through their own humanistic methodology.

God gives common grace to the intellectual world, but not when it contradicts the true nature of reality. For instance, Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis Theory asserts man is not responsible for his sin, but the Bible makes it clear “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).” Furthermore, Carl Rogers, the founder of Person-Centered Therapy, makes a similar contradiction—man is essentially good and needs no outside help.[2] This viewpoint contradicts the Psalmist, who declares our help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth (Ps. 121:1; 124:8). Hence, it’s impossible to reconcile these divergent views.

Does this therefore mean all non-Christian guidance is valueless? Not at all. The help of a secular medical doctor is crucial in Christian counseling. In Dr. Mack’s book, he states: “Viral infections, hepatitis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism are all associated with depression. It may be relieved or eliminated simply by the correct diagnosis and treatment of a medical problem from a Physician.”[3] In addition, there are some secular principles that may help illustrate or strengthen a biblical principle. For instance, the Cognitive Behavior Therapy has a diagram which depicts how emotions, thoughts, and behaviors all influence each other without mentioning God. This principle can still be taken from CBT and applied into a God-focused worldview.

Therefore, the methodology of biblical counseling should not be syncretized into a Rogerian, Freudian, or Skinnerian approach. This will only lead to a confusing, eclectic viewpoint.[4] Instead, a non-Christian principle should be scrutinized first by its philosophical, theological, and biblical foundation before determining whether it should be implemented into Christian counseling.

In conclusion, common grace helps find common ground in Psychology. The moral and intellectual realm are still recognizable by both believers and non-believers, since everyone is created in the image of God. Furthermore, all humans have a conscience that bears witness to what is right and wrong (Rom. 2:15). The question then becomes: “Who is honestly using their mental faculties to find this truth?” If one is not willing to accept self-evident truth—such as man’s proclivity towards sinful behavior, the responsibility of the individual to turn from what is wrong rather than blame shifting, true guilt as a result of sin, and treatment found in God rather than some inner potential, then it’s impossible to reconcile the two. It’s my hope both sides will take a critical view regarding their own position and attempt to find some common ground without compromising their position.

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: MI: Intervarsity Press, 1994 (658-660).

[2] Jay Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling, p.8.

[3] Wayne Mack, Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005).

[4][4] Jay Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual, p.92.

Limited or Unlimited Confidentiality in Biblical Counseling?

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Confidentiality in biblical counseling is when another person entrusts a counselor with sin issues they are struggling with. The Bible informs us to confess our sins to one other and pray for healing (Jam. 5:16). The purpose of this essay is to talk about the kind of commitment to confidentiality a biblical counselor should make with a counselee, when it’s appropriate to limit privacy rights and report a confession to civil authorities, and how a counselor should cooperate with the authorities about these issues.  The ultimate goal is to restore the counselee to a proper relationship with God.

When an individual entrusts their private sins with a counselor, it’s important to be clear with them the exceptions to confidentiality. There are at least three cases when privacy can be breached: (1) If the individual indicates an intention to harm him or herself or someone else. To protect the community, it’s important for another person or agency to be involved. (2) Has recently committed sexual or physical abuse or been abused by a perpetrator. The counselor is bound by the civil law to report any type of abuse, especially towards minors. (3) Has done something that violates the law.[1] Please use proper wisdom here. There is a difference between using an illegal substance like Marijuana and confessing to a murder. Both are violations of the law, but one is more severe than the other. In my opinion, if a person has been clean from drugs for at least 2 weeks and vows not to return to their addiction, you should not report them. However, if an individual confesses to a murder, even if it was 10 years ago, you are obligated to report this crime to the police.

How should a biblical counselor cooperate with the authorities? The Bible informs us that every person should place themselves under the authority of the government. There isn’t any authority unless it comes from God, and the authorities that are there have been put in place by God (Rom. 13:1). Furthermore, the civil authorities are placed there by God; they are agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer (Rom. 13:4). Thus, Christians should have a strong relationship with the government in order to maximize proper justice. That being said, I think the church has an advantage over the government to properly heal, restore, and rehabilitate sinners to a relationship with the Creator.

Confidentiality has been convoluted in recent years. It takes wisdom, discernment, and a tedious methodology to decipher whether or not a counseling session should remain private or be reported to proper authorities. I think our motive should always imitate the way God treats us according to Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This is the same attitude biblical counselors should have when healing broken hearts. Thoughts? Please share.

[1] Deepak Reju, “Strict Confidentiality?” Biblical Counseling Coalition Blog (October 20, 2015). Available at: http://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/blogs/2012/06/12/strict-confidentiality/

What does God say about Church Discipline?

Photo Credit: Junior Libby

Photo Credit: Junior Libby

Today, church discipline is perceived as an unkind action. People don’t like the idea of confronting another person because of its supposed negativity. Consequently, few churches are practicing church discipline today. In this essay, I will argue church discipline is a biblical command, and when done properly, strengthens the health of the church.

Jesus told us in Matthew 18:15-17 if someone sins against you, go and point out their fault between the two of you. As Christians, it’s our responsibility to tell the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). If someone is in a state of continual disobedience, the word of God says they need to repent or will perish (Lk. 13:5). Since we don’t want our brothers or sisters to perish, it’s truly loving to confront them about their sin. The ultimate goal is to restore them to a proper relationship with Christ, which can only happen through honesty and integrity.

If the person doesn’t listen, then the Bible says to take one or two along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of more than one witness. Beforehand, you were being sensitive by not informing others about a certain struggle another friend had. However, if that individual is unwilling to give up their sin, then you are encouraged to bring another individual with you to confront it. I believe the importance of bringing a witness is to show the sinner it’s not just you, but there are others who agree change is necessary.

If they refuse to listen to a group of believers, then it’s time to tell it to the church (Matt. 18:17). For example, if someone betrayed their spouse by committing adultery, should the church pursue him and call him to repentance, or let him go on in the lifestyle of this destructive sin? Of course the loving response is to confront the man. The ACBC website says the purpose well: “Discipline of erring Christians is not optional but mandatory, since it is intended to protect God’s reputation, to reconcile and restore sinners, to maintain the purity of the church, and to deter sin.[1] Thus, it’s important to have godly men and women speak truth to an erring person so they might be reconciled back into a loving relationship with God.

Finally, if a person doesn’t listen to you, a group of believers, or the church, then the last course of action is to treat them as an unbeliever (Matt 18:17). The Bible gives an example in the Corinthian church of a man who was sleeping with his father’s wife. The apostle Paul stated, “Shouldn’t you have gone into mourning and put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this (1 Cor. 5:1-7)?” According to this passage, the most loving reaction toward sin is to deal with the perpetrator first. If he doesn’t want to change, then the church is obligated to protect their people by keeping the warped man from having contact until he is rightfully restored back to God.

Church discipline is not an easy task: Either churches are too lenient and allow sin to infiltrate the Church or they are too strict and cause division and hardship. The key is to tell the truth in love and make it a goal to restore the person back to proper fellowship with God and His people. I believe this is the correct role church discipline should play in biblical counseling.

[1] “Church Discipline: Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.” Available at: http://www.biblicalcounseling.com/before-you-begin/theological-considerations/church-discipline/

A Biblical Evaluation of 4 Secular-Based Theories in Counseling

In this essay, I will define, describe, and provide a biblical evaluation for 4 secular-based therapies: The 12 step recovery program, cognitive-behavioral therapy, the biogenic theory of mood disorders, and electroconvulsive therapy. It is my goal to fairly evaluate the pros and cons of each position and determine any redemptive quality in them. It is my hope you learn these approaches well and choose the most rational course of action for alleviating mental issues.

The 12 Step recovery program is a set of principles for spiritually minded people to tackle problems such as alcoholism and drug addiction. The American Psychological Association summarizes the program’s goals by the following actions: one cannot control their alcoholism, only a higher power can restore sanity, taking responsibility for past errors through making amends, learning to live a new life of positive behavior, and alleging to help others who suffer from the same addictions.[1]

The benefit of this program is its emphasis on taking personal responsibility for past errors. The fifth step specifically states, “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”[2] This approach is biblical because the Apostle John states, “If we confess our sins to one another, God is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9).” I appreciate how this method avoids blame shifting sin on environmental factors, other persons, or genetic anomalies; instead, the method allows for individual accountability.

A weakness in the 12 step program is its fatalistic mindset—once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” This is not true. When someone repents of their alcoholism, the Bible asserts they are a new creation in Christ; the old has passed away; the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). Therefore, the sober person who attends a 12 step program for years without relapse doesn’t need to label themselves as alcoholics. Their personality has been truly transformed into a new creation whereby identity is found in God, not alcoholism.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) works to solve thinking and behavior. The basic steps in CBT are to identify critical behaviors, determine abnormalities, evaluate the frequency and duration of these abnormalities, and attempt to decrease them through the process of becoming aware of your thoughts and identifying negative thinking.[3] CBT’s circle diagram below shows how emotions, thoughts, and behaviors directly affect each other. Within the circle, there is a triangle of core beliefs, which include: yourself, others, and your future.

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The strength of CBT is its practical nature to help someone cope with specific challenges through restructuring their negative thought processes. Similarly, biblical counselors believe negative thoughts will directly affect your behavior and feelings. For example, the internal thought: “Person X makes me so upset” can lead to negative feelings of rage. The negative feelings of rage can lead to acting out that behavior—either by yelling or physically hurting that individual. Because your thoughts can negatively affect yourself, others, and your future, it’s vital to receive cognitive therapy.

The weakness of CBT is attempting to change the heart of an individual without God in the equation. In my opinion, this secular-based therapy may modify the behavior, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. For instance, someone who receives CBT counseling may successfully rewire their cognitive processes in an effort to reduce anger symptoms, but this is just half of the issue. The other half not only includes putting off the old self, which is corrupt through deceitful desires, but to be renewed in the spirit of your minds created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24). Thus, the goal is changing negative attitudes and replacing them with positive attitudes like love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22).

According to the Free Medical Dictionary, the Biogenic Theory states: “Defects in physiology and metabolism, such as certain amines like dopamine and serotonin, are pathologically linked to certain psychiatric illnesses.”[4] Consequently, therapists who focus on this methodology are primarily focused on using drugs to alleviate negative symptoms and stabilize one’s mood disorders; however, these counselors may also add individual and group therapy to help the individual develop back into society.

There are several problems with this approach. Dr. Ron Leifer, a New York Psychiatrist, states, “There is no biological imbalance. When people come to me and they say, ‘I have a biological imbalance, I say, ‘Show me your lab results.’ There are no lab tests.” Leifer uses the analogy of diabetes versus depression to defend his argument. Diabetes has a definitive test and biochemical imbalance because it shows high blood sugar, but nothing like that occurs in a patient suffering from depression.[5]

Furthermore, in Leifer’s article The Chemical Imbalance Fraud, he quotes the Chair of Public Affairs of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Mark Graff, when he was required under medical pressure to acknowledge there is “no clean cut lab tests” to determine imbalance in the brain. So what’s the real reason? Bioethicist Carly Elliot, a professor from the University of Minnesota, states it succinctly: “The way to sell drugs is to sell psychiatric illness.”[6]

Finally, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, which causes a seizure lasting shorter than 60 seconds. The goal of ECT is to reboot the brain in order to reverse symptoms of mental illness. Before having an ECT treatment, an individual will need a full medical history, physical exam, psychiatric assessment, an electrocardiogram to check heart health, and basic blood tests. ECT is typically the last resort when medications aren’t tolerated or other forms of therapy haven’t been successful.[7]

From a biblical perspective, ECT is not a wise choice. It has been shown to cause memory loss, confusion, and serious heart problems. The Bible informs us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and do not belong to us but to God (1 Cor. 6:19). Therefore, humans ought to respect their bodies and not subject it to undue physical harm from ECT. Moreover, ECT does not deal with the problem. Someone may struggle with depression even after shock therapy and will need a counselor to help them cope with it. On the contrary, the role of a biblical counselor is to empower the person to overcome their depression and help restructure their brain chemistry, not through an inanimate lifeless machine but by a living breathing human being. There is no comparison between the two.

In conclusion, I have given you an evaluation concerning four secular-based approaches to counseling: 12 Step Recovery, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Biogenic Theory and Electroconvulsive therapy. My goal was to provide a biblical response by expressing the pros and cons of each therapy and ways to integrate some of them into Christian based counseling. It is my hope you will learn about these approaches and decide for yourself which counseling views are most rational.

[1] Gary R. Vandenboss, APA Dictionary of Psychology (Washington, DC: APA, 2007).

[2] The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous Material from the General Service Office.

[3]  “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”, Mayo Clinic (October 16yh, 2015). Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/basics/what-you-can-expect/prc-20013594

[4] “The Biogenic Amine Theory,” Free Medical Dictionary (October 16th, 2015). Available at: http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/biogenic+amine+theory

[5] “Blaming the Brain: The Chemical Imbalance Fraud”, Dr. Ron Leifer (October 16, 2015), Available at: http://www.cchr.org/sites/default/files/Blaming_The_Brain_The_Chemical_Imbalance_Fraud.pdf

[6] Shankar Vedantam, “Drug Ads Hyping Anxiety Make Some Uneasy,” The Washington Post, 16 July 2001.

[7] “Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT),” Mayo Clinic (October 16th, 2015). Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/electroconvulsive-therapy/basics/why-its-done/prc-20014161