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God bless him for being willing to attempt to reason with “intellectuals.” I find the most unreasonable.
Bishop Sheen bump!
The typical modern conception of religious evolution runs like this: animism to paganism to monotheism.
But there was a missionary among...mm...I don't remember if it was the Hurons or some Algonquian-speaking tribe of North America. Of course they had all these creation stories, spirits, etc. But when the Jesuits talked to them about the One High God, they responded something along the lines of "Oh yeah! Our grandfathers told us about that God too. But he lives up in the 12th heaven, and we don't pray to him very often."
Paganism might well be a degraded monotheism rather than an exalted animism. IOW, everyone knew God at one time, but then these other spirits/deities started intruding on the picture so in many places the Supreme God was largely forgotten.