It has been a while since I've looked at this thread, and I've noticed that one of my entries was quoted a few times with some further commentary. I feel compelled to add some notes based on these further discussions.
Firstly, 'cavalier' mentioned my post in the context of 'westerner bashing', which is far from the point I was making. I never put down Westerners as a group, as a collective consciousness, as a society, or anything else for that matter. My point was simple: Westerners are notorious for attempting to understand world religion through the framework of Christianity, rather than approaching such things with a mind open to a faith or spiritual doctrine that may be totally unfamiliar in anything but its distant philosophical implications. This is not even a bad thing, necessarily, unless one's goal is to understand a religion in its original light. People tend to forget that so much writing about Eastern religion such as Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism are really best understood as philosophical investigations. They yield, as I mentioned in my old post, profound grounds for a comparative understanding. However, it is a mistake to confuse these almost purely conceptual philosphies based on religious practices with the religion itself.
'Cavalier' also mentioned my comment that follows: 'The ideal Christian world, in a traditional sense that is, is a world where everyone practices Christianity.' This is a simple case of the use of loose language and generalization, which must be allowed for when discussing topics so broad and general as 'Does God equate to Tao?'. What I was referring to with that statement was the general attitude toward dissemination in Christian religion as opposed to most Eastern traditions. Taoists show little interest at any point in history of attempting to convert, recruit, or in any way actively seek out adherents. This attitude is nearly unheard of in Taoism. Conversely, Christianity takes a certain amount of fulfillment in spreading God's word. Missions to do so have been going on all over the world for hundreds of years. If 'cavalier' considers this point to be bogus, or to be insulting to Christians, I am lost for a reason as to how that is so. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with either inclination.
Furthermore, it should go without saying that there are obviously many Christians that this attitude of spreading one's faith certainly does not appeal to. But, they are either in the relative minority or their viewpoint has not yet been absorbed by the mainstream religion, and thus prominent features of the Catholic/Christian faith, in general, do not correspond to MANY adherent individuals' perspectives. This is inevitable. Not every individual adherent in the world can be taken into account when discussing religion. There is simpy too much variation. Does this mean our answer will, in turn, be just as general? Yes. But, again, that is to be expected...this is a VERY general question we are talking about here.
Finally, it is true that Christianity and Taoism have something in common outside their both being religions, but this is a tricky point. Christianity came to be called Christianity, in the first place, to distinguish itself from other religious and philosophical views. The same can reasonably be said about using the term Taoism (though, there are many types of Taoism that are different from each other, an in-depth exploration of these types is outside the scope of this topic). We are talking about terms that are used to separate these religious traditions from others...terms that are SUPPOSED to highlight the differences between them so that we might be able to tell them apart with certainty. In that respect, Tao is NOT God.
'Tao Equus' mentioned: 'I believe that Tao and God are one and the same. Just as the Tao is fundamentaly unknowable, ungraspable by our feeble capacities so is God.' Indeed, this is a perceptive sentiment. But again, this correspondence doesn't mean that 'God' and 'Tao' are the same simply because they both aren't purportedly graspable. Many things aren't graspable...air is not graspable, 'pi' is not graspable, Confucius' jen is not graspable (he refused to ever define it). For that matter, Bertrand Russel, in his book 'The Problems of Philosophy', went into great detail demonstrating that even the 'reality' of a simple wooden table was completely ungraspable and mysterious. If everything that is ungraspable is to be called equivalent to Tao and to God, then ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING is Tao AND God, simultaneously. Of course, people that are purists of these religions, in any sense, will hotly debate this topic, and with good cause. The bottom line is, if everything is God, then God is no longer monotheistic...he becomes a strange pantheistic ('pagan') deity. Taoism, for that matter, becomes a religion that irresponsibly ignores the definite and concrete existence of a divine creator. These comparative conclusions create far-reaching, contradictory implications that obliterate the uniqueness of the two different religions, and deny them them their character. This assumption reduces all things characteristically Christian or Taoist to a homogenous, palatable dust so that we can consume them without having to pick through strange lumps. But this kind of disintegration of the uniqueness of each religion is simply unnecessary, and works mostly to obscure and suppress the living, breathing spirit of actual adherents of Christianity and Taoism.
There is, nonetheless, a world where God and Tao are the same thing...it is the world that exists when nobody is trying to determine if God and Tao are the same thing. The prescence of Taoists in the world in no way inherently encroaches on the prescence of Christians in the world, and vice versa. The two are the same not in that ANYTHING concerning their beliefs 'matches'. Rather, these beliefs, which are specific to each religion, were created for the purpose of elaborating how that particular religion was different, and for illuminating the unique characteristics of each that make it worthy of being a stand-alone religion. Christian teachings elaborate the Christian view, Taoist teachings elaborate the Taoist view. Rather, these two are the same in that they grew out of the same ungraspable Universe, and the same green planet.
Are the lilies of Matthew 6:28 the same flowers as the revered cherry tree blossoms in the Asia? No, they are comletely different. Lillies don't have cherries, one is a tree and the other is a plant, they have totally different distributions, different appearances, different growth rates, require different conditions, and live for different amounts of time.
A lilly is NOT a cherry tree...no matter how you cut it. There is no unity there, at least not to the naked eye or the grasping mind. Unity can only be realized when it is seen that both cherry blossoms and lilies grow out of the same blue and green sphere of water and soil we call Earth. Thus, their unity is not implied by their name or by categorizing or philosophizing about them. Their unity is the silence in which one considers them before they have been sequestered from each other as denomial entities which are bound to express them in a mutually-exclusive light, therefore creating the illusory proposition that a reconciliation is required between the two. Such a reconciliation cannot be reached, because the religious entities it seeks to enjoin are already united in this world. All additional efforts are mostly just so many philosophical growths upon their surface, clumsily trying to form conceptual bridges between the two.
So, in closing, I will say this: if Tao and God can be equated, in would be a shame to say so. This is because if there is any relevance in speaking about that which is ungraspable, it is in that of the ungraspable and completely unspoken unity of two completely different spiritual traditions that grew out of the same globe of soil.