Any practical application of math, science or language is conveyed through story telling. I know when I teach my son concepts in those areas I use stories. And no, I think every story needs an antagonist. Assuming you define an antagonist as anything working at cross purpose to a protagonist. In my faith, I believe that the reason we are here is to become a better person. You can use whatever parameters you want for that. For me, that means I work on being more compassionate and continually learning. My antagonists could be being self-centered and laziness or complacency. These same antagonists (or others) apply to most anything I may want to do whether they are related to religion or not. So, strife is part of all life. For some religion is also part of their life and therefore also subject to strife.