Pastor Phil Vander Ploeg of the First Baptist Spartanburg in South Carolina said during his sermon on June 5 that the only atheists in the world live in America and Europe (video below).
Ploeg said that people often ask him why doesn’t God make himself more obvious and noted:
"Why doesn’t God just walk into the room one day and say, 'Hello, I’m God, I’m real,' and then leave? and then we would all believe in him. Why doesn't God do that? Why doesn't God reveal himself more than He does? It's a good question, right? God has revealed himself far more than some people want to acknowledge.
"It is obvious. It’s obvious. The only atheists in the world live in America and Europe, right? Everyone else knows there’s a god. But we’ve developed a worldview in the West that justifies our actions. That’s why we don’t believe in God."
Gallup International and the WI Network of Market Research released a poll in 2015 that found the least religious countries were China at 90 percent, Sweden with 76 percent and the Czech Republic coming in at 75 percent, noted The Washington Post.
The countries with the highest number of atheists included: Hong Kong (70 percent), Netherlands and UK (66 percent), Israel (65 percent), Japan (62 percent), Germany 59 (percent), Australia and Switzerland (58 percent).
The U.S. did not make the top 18 countries with the largest atheist population.
Despite his widely inaccurate assertion, Ploeg's website states: "Phil’s passion is teaching the Bible as absolute truth and educating college students and young adults to understand why Christianity is not only something they believe in but is also true and intelligent. In his sermons Phil seeks to help his listeners know and understand the Bible in a way that causes them to live radically and sacrificially for Christ and for His kingdom."
The Friendly Atheist notes that Ploeg went on to explain "three good reasons why God doesn’t reveal himself by walking through the door in the back of the church and saying hello."
Ploeg's first reason was that God is protecting us from his glory which is so great it would kill people (and send them to heaven where they would see God). The second reason was our freedom because seeing God would somehow amount to coercion. The third reason was the sanctification of Christians by faith, which supposedly comes piece by piece, according to Ploeg.
However, there have been Biblical accounts of people having sudden conversions to Christianity and seeing God: Saul was blinded on the road to Damascus by an image of Jesus. There were several people healed by Jesus who instantly joined the faithful.