Dichotomies in Stories: How Books are not Always Consistent

King presents to us two different creation stories in “The Truth about Stories” — one regarding a peaceful story about cooperation, the other using an authoritative voice promoting competition. But which one of these is true? Which one should we believe? King uses dichotomies to show the difference between these two stories, and points out how the way these stories are told, and what is in these stories, influences what the reader or listener believes.

It is interesting to note that even the Bible has two different creation stories within it. The first one is told at the very beginning of the book and the second one is in Genesis 2.4-2.5.  The first one sets out the seven days of creation, and how first God created the heavens and the earth, day and night. The next day he separated the waters and the third day he created dry land. Then came the stars, moon, and sun and then water creatures and birds. Finally on the sixth day land animals and humans were created. Then on the seventh day God rested.

In the second story, the days are no specified and the sequence of events is different. The heavens and the earth were created, and then man (but not woman). Then came the garden of evil, with the tree of knowledge that would soon spell doom for the man living in Eden. God tells man about the tree, and not to eat from it, then notices that Man is lonely, so he then makes Woman. Eventually they end up eating from the tree of knowledge and are banished out of Eden for their sins.

In this case, which story are we to trust? They both come from the same book, the same Bible. Both are told in a more authoritative voice. Which one is true?

Both stories are still different from King’s story regarding cooperation. Neither of the Bible stories are really about this — it’s just God creating everything and commanding things to be the way they are. Both are still told in an authoritative way vs. storytelling. But the point here is that there are even dichotomies within the same collection of stories that some believe to be true as a whole.

In the first story, all of creation is said to be good. Even within this story, dichotomies like heaven and earth and day and night are discussed. The second story is more harsh, particularly for humankind. The garden of Eden is a place of work and where things are off-limits. Furthermore, it is an unfair place, as Woman never knew that eating the fruit off the tree was bad.  Furthermore, they would not have knowledge of what was good or bad (like that it was wrong to disobey God) without this knowledge from the tree. There is no such thing in the first story of creation. One may say one story follows from another, but the events in both stories are still different, as is the way the creation of humans is told.

King is trying to show us what we choose to believe, even if we would believe parts of the other story, we overall want to pick the one that makes sense to us and that we trust. We see these opposites being told and it shows that they could be the same story, but that every aspect of it is opposite to one another. But even stories in the same book show dichotomies, so we must be really careful with our biases in choosing what we believe, and be careful of any inconsistencies between stories. Dichotomies can show us what biases we have, and perhaps what we grew up believing, but it is important that we are careful of these things when reading or listening to stories.


Works Cited

Arnett, Autumn A. “Promoting Growth Mindset Means Checking Biases at the Door, Experts Say.” Education Dive. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 June 2016.

“Two Creation Stories.” Bible Wonderings. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 June 2016.

Genesis. Digital image. Biologos. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 June 2016.

King, Thomas. The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 2005. Print.

5 thoughts on “Dichotomies in Stories: How Books are not Always Consistent

  1. sandrawu

    Hi Sylvia,

    I’m happy you wrote your post on this question, because I explored the same question myself, and I completely agree that only we can choose what stories to believe for ourselves, and that we should always take into consideration a multitude of factors before deeming something as “the truth.”

    I personally think there’s many “truths” to a single concept, and it all depends on which side of the perspective we’re observing it from. In my post I talked about the dangers of binary thinking, how a black or white/right or wrong/this or that/you or me/all or nothing kind of mindset can severely limit us by placing identical elements into opposition, thus having us ultimately believe that there can only be one truth in this world. That is simply untrue. We should be able to at least acknowledge the validity of all stories, recognize their dichotomies, and take them all into consideration without condemning any.

    So my question is, if one chooses, say the “harsher” Genesis story over the one that was told in the beginning of the Bible, is that an indicator of the individual’s integrity and sense of morality? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    Cheers,
    Sandra

    Reply
    1. SylviaHalpert Post author

      Hi Sandra,

      That is a really interesting question. I think it still depends on what the reader finds as ‘more believable.’ This may depend on their upbringing but could also show insight into who they are as a person as well. Maybe they believe more in punishments or how humans are naturally sinners and are more drawn to that story. I think it’s hard to determine their morality when comparing the two stories since one does not really introduce any moral concepts. Perhaps this is also why a person may find the story of Adam and Eve more believable as well. I’m curious to hear what you though about this as well!

      Reply
  2. GillianGuest

    Hi Sylvia,

    I really like how you pointed out the contrasting events of Genesis–it is something I have never noticed myself, probably due to growing up with this and similar stories. I think it was important that you also pointed out belief in relation to this contrast, and how belief, or being raised with belief, can cause us not to question what is told to us. It is very easy to have blinders when it comes to the stories we are raised with, and it is hard to question belief even when presented with other stories that you know someone believes as much as your own story.

    Gillian

    Reply
  3. DanicaFerguson

    I enjoyed your thoughts on this question. I especially liked your comment on how King is showing us that we choose the story we want to believe. I think this goes back to us believing in things we understand in. My question for you is, do you think it is possible for us to truly understand another perspective and believe in it as much as our original pick? Going off of that, do you believe as individuals it would be possible to believe in multiple stories at once- for example the two creation stories in the bible that you refer to. I think it is possible when we widen our horizons and accept that multiple realities are possible at one point in time/space. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

    Reply
    1. SylviaHalpert Post author

      Hi Danica,

      I think one can get to a point where we understand another perspective…maybe not 100% but very close to it. I think only if we change our views on something would we believe in it as much as our original pick (because remember, this can change!) If we do not change our original pick I think it’s really hard to truly believe another perspective, but that does not mean that we don’t understand it, There is a reason we believe in one over the other, after all.

      Reply

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