Taoism initially did not belong to religion but was an academic school in pre-Qin Dynasty. Represented by Lao Zi（老子）and Zhuang Zi(庄子), Taoism stresses the doctrine of spontaneousness and nature which in some way are featured with dialectics and atheism. Meanwhile they also advocate the inaction and tranquility of externality and internality as well as peace. The core of Taoism is Dao(道), which is considered as the headspring of universe and the fundamental principle of all motions in universe. In his classic Tao Te Ching or Dao De Jing(道德经), Lao Zi said :" Before the universe was born, there was something in the chaos of the heavens. It stands alone and empty, solitary and unchanging. It is ever present and secure. It may be regarded as the Mother of the universe. Because I do not know its name, I call it the Tao. If forced to give it a name, I would call it 'Great'."
The representative philosophers of Taoism are Lao Zi(老子), Zhuang Zi(庄子), Wang Bi(王弼), Guo Xiang(郭象), Ji Kang(嵇康) and so on. Chinese people often say:"Nei Sheng Wai Wang"(Person's Interior World like a Saint's and Exterior World like a King's, 内圣外王). It is actually divided into two segments: Confucianism's social criteria: To be an exterior King or Emperor with high morality and talents as well as Taoism's self-cultivation in spirit: To be an interior Saint with extraordinary understanding to see the social world and natural truth. In a word, Taoism is apt to the individual's internality and spirituality which is characterized of personality and humanity revealed outside; Confucianism is inclined to the whole society's administration and development which is featured with the national power and social harmony.
Taoism firstly gets rid of the road that Confucianism goes along and has its own independent and objective way to explore the oneness of human and nature and the harmony of spirituality and materiality. In this way, it is impossibly accepted by majority of dominators in the world. It just pays attention to the heaven's nature and human's nature. But on the other hand, it has the predominant influence on Chinese painting, Chinese Calligraphy, Chinese philosophy and Chinese people's lifestyle. It frankly is more useful than Confucianism to the whole world's virtuous development, because it really satisfy the inner need and desire of individuals, who constitute the whole world. Besides, Taoism is also a perfect advocator of harmonious co-existence of human and nature. Taoist are environmentalists anyway. In their classics, nature is regarded as the mother of human!
By the way, different from Confucianism, which is never considered to be a religion in China; Taoism later became a religious belief roughly in late Han Dynasty. The real founder of Taoism as a religion was Zhang Daoling(34-156) and the greatest promoter was Ge Hong(葛洪). Taoism as a religion is different from Taoism as a philosophical school, though they both claim Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi as their forerunners. Taoism as a religion was turned into mystery and pursuit of immortality. In this Taoist religion, many historical figures became the supernatural beings like Emperor Hanwudi, Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi. They based on the theory of Taoism re-create a dream-like permanent world in spiritual world of humankind.