The humble hiccup has been one of science’s enduring mysteries. People from before birth to old age get hiccups from time to time. So do cats and rats. No one knows why or how to stop them.
In fact, an internist performed a five-year study involving fifty-four hospital patients with hiccups, attempting a wide range of treatments. None proved effective.
Now a study led by University College London may have solved the mystery. Researchers monitoring thirteen newborn babies found that hiccupping triggered a large wave of brain signals that could aid their development. This brain activity might help babies learn to monitor their breathing muscles, leading to the ability to control their breathing voluntarily.
However, hiccups have no known advantage for adults. Why, then, do we persist in them?
It’s still a mystery.
Is a recession coming?
In other news, more than half of the world’s wealthiest investors are preparing for a drop in financial markets before the end of 2020, according to UBS Global Wealth Management. Investors are worried about the 2020 presidential election and the trade dispute between the US and China.
In a survey of more than 3,400 high-net-worth individuals, more than 79 percent think markets are moving toward a period of higher volatility. About 55 percent of respondents expect a “significant drop” in the markets over the next fourteen months.
However, the study was conducted between August and October following a volatile third quarter. Recent signs are already pointing to a firming US economy in the fourth quarter. A strong US labor market, robust consumer spending, an improving housing sector, and optimism on trade talks with China have combined with better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and a supportive interest-rate policy from the Federal Reserve.
So, will the financial markets see a significant drop in the near future?
It’s still a mystery.
The “spiritual but not religious” movement
I could go on: scientists don’t really know why gravity exists, how plate tectonics work, or how animals migrate so successfully.
My purpose is not to criticize scientists, but to point out the inherent limitations of science. And my purpose in pointing out such limitations is not to criticize science, but to remind us that all humans are finite creatures in need of truth and wisdom only our Creator can supply.
Here’s why this theme is on my mind today.
It was my privilege to deliver the T. B. Maston Lectures at Baptist University of the Américas (BUA) in San Antonio this week. I believe strongly in BUA’s crucial mission and the leadership of its outstanding president, Dr. Abe Jaquez.
His faculty asked me to discuss the popularity of the “spiritual but not religious” movement, an urgent and timely topic. A Pew Research Center study reports that only 48 percent of Americans now consider themselves to be both “religious and spiritual,” while 18 percent say they are “neither religious nor spiritual.” But 27 percent say they are “spiritual but not religious.” Their number has grown nearly 50 percent in recent years.
By comparison, Pew Research Center estimates America’s evangelical population to be 25.4 percent. The Baptist population is 15.4 percent. According to an authoritative study, only 20.4 percent of the US population attends church on any given week.
This means there are more “spiritual but not religious” Americans than Americans who attended church last Sunday.
“There was no king in Israel.”
A major reason why so many Americans choose to be spiritual but not religious is that they think they no longer need religion to be spiritual. It is conventional wisdom in our postmodern culture that truth is personal and subjective. There is no such thing as “truth,” only “your truth” and “my truth.”
We are therefore all equally able to discern spiritual truth for ourselves without need of divine revelation from a divine Creator. Or so we’re told.
How’s this working for us?
The theme of the book of Judges is the theme of our culture: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). In a true kingdom, the king is the final authority on all subjects. His declaration is truth, his word inviolate.
Throughout Scripture, we are told that our God is such a king. Jesus called us to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). He taught us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). We are to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). We are creatures in desperate need of truth only our Creator can provide.
It has been well said: To get along with God, stay off his throne.
How to know if God is your king
When last did you enthrone Jesus as king of your life?
Here’s a practical way to answer the question: We make God our king to the degree that we do what he says whether we want to or not. If he is our counselor or father, we can ignore his direction. If he is our king, we must do whatever he tells us to do.
So, I’ll ask again: When last did you make Jesus your king?