This is part 4 of a series comparing and contrasting Daoism and Christianity. For part 3, click here.
One major similarity between Zhuangzi’s Dao and Christianity’s God is that both are believed to be the creator and sustainer of the universe.
Zhuangzi explains creation by saying, “The bright and shining is born out of deep darkness; the ordered is born out of formlessness; pure spirit is born out of the Way. The body is born originally from this purity.” In other words, the Way is the ultimate origin first of spirit and then of physical things. The Way also causes the physical things to continue and flourish: “But what the ten thousand things all look to for sustenance, what never fails them - is this not the real Way?” Although the Way is beyond creatures’ comprehension, it is their “source” and “root” that “shepherd[s]” them in accordance with their natures. Zhuangzi sees the Way in the nature of creatures: “Heaven cannot help but be high, earth cannot help but be broad, the sun and moon cannot help but revolve, the ten thousand things cannot help but flourish. Is this not the Way?” Since these beings originated in the Dao, Zhuangzi sees understanding the nature of things as one key to understanding the Dao.
Similarly, Christians see God as the source and sustainer of everything. The Bible begins with the statement, “In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1). Like the Dao, God wants his creations to flourish; when they are first created, he blesses them, telling them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:22). This blessing means more than that God wishes his creations well. The Bible describes creation as happening in response to God’s commands, which means that God’s words have the power to shape reality. Thus, when God tells creation to be fruitful, he causes it to do so. The Bible portrays God as acting continually to enable creation to endure; “he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). Thus, Christianity and Daoism both consider something outside the universe to be its source and sustainer.