Creation of the Gods: A Somewhat Less Than Critical Commentary
One curious question remains. What is a God in Creation of the Gods? In Taoist and Buddhist pantheons, there is a hierarchy of immortals, gods, Buddhas, bodhisattvas, spirits, sprites, demons, and fairies that is incomprehensible to someone unfamiliar to it. In Creation of the Gods, there is a single sentence which places the gods relative to other supernatural beings.
It must be remembered that gods were chosen from inferior immortals who could not achieve the way.
Therefore, it is clear that the gods in Creation of the Gods are unlike gods of the Western World, which stood over everyone else in terms of knowledge and power. From reading the text of the novel, one can construct a hierarchy of supernatural beings. The hierarchy in Creations of the Gods is as follows:
At one point, Hongjun explicitly states that Buddha and Candi are his equal, but that Lao Zi, Heavenly Primogenitor, and Grand Master of Heaven should bow to him. Clearly those three are above all the others. The Second-Tier Taoist leaders are all brothers. The Immortals like Burning Lamp are in a sense disciples of the Second-Tier Taoist leaders. The fourth category represents mortal disciples of Burning Lamp and the other Immortals. These first four categories of people are distinguished from all others because they either already had or were destined to eventually escape from the cycle of reincarnation through enlightenment via either Taoism or Buddhism. (Some of the Taoist Immortals such as Krakucchanda and Merciful Navigation eventually became Buddhas.)
It should be clear that the first four categories of immortals were superior to the "gods" created by Jiang Ziya. They were superior morally, intellectually, and in terms of supernatural abilities and physical prowess in battle. The mortals who became Gods were of several types
The remainder of the list of Creation is filled with names of characters who do not appear explicitly in the text.
In short, one can define the characteristics of a god from the text of the novel. First and foremost, gods could not attain immortality by studying the Way. Second, gods were superior mortals who had distinguished themselves either (i) by their pursuit of the Way and had subsequently gained some degree of supernatural powers, or (ii) by their military prowess as generals. Third their was no morality requirement to become a god. The most heinously immoral character in the novel, King Zhou, is deified as a god. Thus we can see that becoming a god was a way to grant immortality to notable mortals who could not achieve it by themselves.