Part II:Nutshell: Whenever a sufficient number of entities interact, they produce a synergetic, emergent consciousness that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Each of us is a consciousness. Our consciousness emerges from the interaction of something on the order of a hundred billion neurons, none of which possesses a humanlike mind in itself. Each of these in turn emerges from the synergy of its component proteins, organelles, lipid membranes, enzymes, genes, etc.. Each of these emerges from molecules, which emerge from atoms, which emerge from electrons, protons, quarks, gluons, and whatever they may have emerged from.
Going in the other direction, interacting humans generate meta-intelligences such as "corporations," "economies," "cultures," "the Internet," "memes," "archetypes," and soon, human artificial intelligences. We foster whole new realms of evulotion--cultural evolution, technological evolution, and memetic evolution.
Divine Consciousness is a fibonacci spiral of nested levels of consciousness at all amplitudes and frequencies. It's consciousness all the way down, and all the way up. In this model, that which we could call God/-dess is not a monolithic singular entity any more than we are1
Our "place" in this grand epic of Divine growth and evolution is to do what Consciousness does at each level: interact, cooperate, grow, and self-transcend. The human spiritual impulse for such things as "communion with God," "community," "harmony," "beauty," and so on is simply the manifestation on our awareness-level of the inherent self-transcending property of Consciousness. This property manifests through what we call "love" (again, operating on numerous levels of amplitude and frequency), ranging from the mutual attraction and wedding of electrons and protons, to hydrogen's ecstatic fusion, to the mighty fecundating orgasm of a supernova spreading the seeds of Life into the willing womb of a hydrogen nebula, which self-embraces to create new solar systems ripe for the start of biological evolution.
This epic of growth, evolution, and self-transcendence takes place within the context of a cosmic struggle between Consciousness and Unconsciousness (or "anti-Consciousness," or stupidity, or entropy, or disillusion). Consciousness must climb Mt. Improbable as it increases its complexity (measured in higher aplitude OODA cycles and the emergence of higher-order meta-consciousnesses). At lower iterations it must do so through Darwinian natural selection, a process by which Consciousness can advance only at the price of blood sacrifice to the dark god of Entropy.2
As Consciousness reaches the human level, these forces manifest archeypally into our mythology, our dreams, our pattern-recognizing/pattern-creating symbolic-level awareness, and our mystical experience. This forms the bridge between the "cosmic-level" concepts of Divinity I have been discussing so far, and the memetic/anthropic-level concepts of Divinity people worship in religions centered on personal gods and goddesses. It ties neatly into John's experience of the loving Goddess who desires that we continually awaken and grow, vs. the malevolent God who perceives a need to subjugate (and thus, stifle) our Consciousness so that he can monopolize its resources, and thus win the Darwinian struggle by grabbing all the marbles.
Communication (and thus, the emergence of higher-order meta-consciousness) is only possible between equals. In a strict hierarchical relationship, the duty of the inferior is to know nothing but what his/her Master wills him/her to know, and to conform the contents of his/her consciousness to the will of the Master. The inferior is not to perceive reality independently (and thus, be conscious), but to receive without question the Master's perception of reality (and thus be in effect unconscious, mere extensions of the Master's will). Thus, whenever the inferior communicates with the Master, s/he must try to guess the contents of the Master's brain and/or "what the Master wants to hear" and make that the content of their communication. The presentation of contrary facts can result in punishment.
The Master, in contrast, has monopolized the role of consciousness. S/he "does all the thinking" for his/her subjects, having taken up a burden of omniscience. If there's any knowing to be done, only the Master may do it. However, as described above, the Master is being fed streams of flattering :bs by his/her subjects, who dare not relay accurate information about reality.
The ultimate portrayal of this is to be found in the fourth chapter of the Book of Revelation. Here, we are shown four "creatures" covered with eyes, who stand around the throne of God, saying "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, who is and was and is to come," over and over and over again, forever. Being covered with eyes is symbolic of high intelligence/awareness, but these poor Lovecraftian monstrosities have been reduced to mindless automatons with the mental faculties of tape players running on an endless loop. Naturally, in a situation like this, the Lord is not going to be warned of any flaws in his policies or inconvenient facts.
The result is what Robert Anton Wilson calls "the Snafu Priniciple." The people who are best in a position to learn the facts of reality "on the streets" are forbidden to do so. The Master, who has assumed all responsibility for gathering the facts of reality sits in isolated splendor in his throne room, being told only what his subordinates think he expects to hear, or wants to hear, reality be damned. One real-life example is Hitler in his bunker ordering divisions into battle that had been destroyed months or years before, surrounded by henchmen who could not tell him the truth. The same thing happens to a lesser extent in hierarchical organizations like the average large corporation, the Roman Catholic Church, or the Bush Administration. Biological analogy: a cancer cell that replicates itself like mad, driving other cells into extinction and ultimately killing the whole body.
In short: the Dominator is the enemy of Consciousness, even his own. He plays a zero-sum game, basically looting the consciousness of his subjects in the same way and for the same reason he loots their wealth and productive effort for his ends. Result: a whole that is less than the sum of its parts, and a trend toward failure and disintegration.
In contrast, there is the Promethean archetype which I have identified as the Serpent/"king of Tyre" (see Ezekiel 28), and which John labels as the Goddess. This archetype seeks to advance by empowering others, cooperating, loving, and building positive-sum win-win outcomes, and creating higher-order emergent meta-consciousness as a result. Instead of trying to seize the whole pie for Herself, the Goddess collaborates with others to bake a bigger pie so that everyone ends up with a bigger slice.
Instead of seeking a monopoly/monolith, She seeks an integrity composed of multiple interacting parts, a network of unity-in-diversity. Instead of hierarchy, the network governs itself by systems of reciprocal accountability. Example: the scientiic method. There is no scientific equivalent of a Pope, who hands down a set of dogmas that must be accepted by all scientists. Instead, scientists linked in a decentralized network are encouraged to perceive reality the best they can by their own lights, and the highest rewards are won by those who bring contrary but accurate facts, and topple predominant, but incorrect models. The scientists who do this are the ones who become household names.
This contrarianism is balanced by protocols by which scientists hold each other accountable. Peer reveiew and replication of experiments or observations by others are mechanisms by which scientists correct each other's errors and reality, rather than social status, is the final court of appeal. Other examples of similar systems include the free market (by which producers of goods and services are held to account by those they would have as customers), the adversarial trial by jury system (in which the defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and is provided with a lawyer to make his/her case before a jury not beholden to either side), and democracy, by which the populace regularly evaluates and retains or removes political officials based on how well their policies work.
These systems do not work perfectly of course, and they are always in danger of being hijacked by infiltrating would-be Dominators. They do work, when used properly by people who genuinely value the virtues of Consciousness (i.e. independence, rationality, liberty, cooperation, embrace of diversity). Rather than trying to win the zero-sum Darwininan game of "survival of the fittest," the Serpent/Goddess archetype seeks to transcend it altogether by applying Consciousness to the challenge of "making the world work for everyone"3
and preserving, rather than out-competing, other species.
This positive-sum game can be created by applied Consciousness--"doing more with less," replacing resouces with elegant, advanced design--a massless, "metaphysical," and non-limited factor. Example: the first trans-atlantic cable weighed thousands of tons, and could only convey a relative handful of messages in morse code. A communications satellite the size of a beer keg can relay hundreds or thousands of channels of video and audio information in high definition. The satellite is able to do this because it represents a more advanced level of science and technology, i.e. more Consciousness, less "stuff." In a realm like Second Life, goods are created, bought and sold for real money--goods made of no physical resources at all!4
The issue of reason and enlightenment vs. Dominator-worship is "the" life-and-death issue of our times. Will Consciousness emerge from the technological leap of Singularity here, or will we abolish ourselves in a final Gotterdammerung as the Dominator faiths clash with each other to see which one gets to conquer the world and monopolize all belief and thought.
1. Biologically, a "human" is actually a community of symbiotically interacting cells, many millions of which are not "human cells" at all! E.g. bacteria in our digestive tracts that has different DNA than our "human" cells, but without which we could not survive. Likewise, our "minds" can be broken down into interacting sub-mind complexes of neural wiring that appear to compete in a quasi-Darwinian way to become "our" thoughts and decisions.
2. The innumerable fossils of extinct species offer silent testimony of the casualties of the battle for Life and Consciousness against the entropic forces of destruction and disintegration.
"To make the world work for everyone, to the disadvantage of no one, in the shortest possible time and without ecological offense."
--Buckminster Fuller, stating the chosen purpose of his life.
4. Well, except for a bit of electricity to run the computers.