"However, I feel that his ideas were certainly not original."
Some is from previous writings in his culture.
The merit of the ideas are not a matter of genius. Many of them are counter-intuitive. The story of Jesus demonstrates those ideas in practice, under great stress, taken to the limit. Many of the occurrances in that story resonate like events a fiction writer would find difficult to fabricate with seeming integrity. Can you see Buddha or Lao Tzu maintaining that philosophy under high stress? There's no report.
"...if aliens came down from the sky, they could read the Tao Te Ching and say, "Hey, that makes sense." I don't think it would be the same reaction to the Torah, New Testament, or Qu'ran."
I think that would depend on which space aliens
were doing the reading.
Siddhartha Guatama set the stage of better understanding reality. "Life is impermanent" is one of the most important things to realize about life."
Okay, I hear the pixils saying that "us common folks" didn't know about death until rich ol' Gautama explained,"You're not going to live forever!" Oddly, the story says Prince Gautama
had observed folks dying by the side of the road as they carried his chair around. So, he decided to tell folks they were dying...?
"Also the proper role of each human being in life is set in the Eightfold path"
He didn't 'set' it for me, that's for sure...who does he think he is?
"I don't think Jesus went as far as to each man's role to each other as Guatama did."
If you mean there is valuable commentary worth reading and considering, I think I agree. In both religions, it might be fairly common to fail miserably by not really comprehending or diligently applying (and thereby extending) the meritorious guidance, but instead, just go along with the group and be a cliche' in one's own culture.
By the way, "Siddhartha" is one of my favorite books. Considering I read it at about age 15,
it has remained very meaningful to me -- not as
a role model, but as a treatment of a range of these issues. Have you read it?