The Tao and God 2
Question: Derek, I find your previous blog entry on chapter 4 interesting. When you say the Tao comes before God, and that this idea applies to any concept of God, I get the impression that the Tao is the creator of God, just as God is the creator of the universe. Is this what you mean?
Answer: Not exactly. Oftentimes people think of the Tao as a deity, but that's like assigning "God status" to electricity, gravity, or the Theory of Relativity. The Tao cannot be rigidly defined in that manner. It may be more useful, in the context of this discussion, to think of the Tao as "the way things are." Imagine the following conversation where a young child poses questions to his father, who is religious:
Boy: "Dad, where does that car come from?"
Father: "It comes from the car factory."
Boy: "Where does the factory come from?"
Father: "People built the factory years ago."
Boy: "Where do people come from?"
Father: "Well, God made us in His image."
Boy: "Where does God come from?"
Father: "God has no beginning."
Boy: "Why not?"
Father: "That's just the way God is, son."
The usage of "way" above maps perfectly to Lao Tzu's usage of "Tao" in the last line of chapter 4. Once we understand this, we'll be able to see that ultimately, it is not God at the very beginning of everything. Rather, it is the Tao of God.
This understanding can also take us another step further and enable us to see that Lao Tzu's principle applies just as easily if the father were an atheist. If his explanation involves the Big Bang cosmological model instead of God, we would still ultimately end up with the Tao.