Why Guilt is a Valuable Human Experience

  1. It is evidence that we respect the tension between what we are and what we strive to become.
  2. Without it, we tend towards apathy and indifference towards ethical ideals.
  3. It is an outgrowth of interpersonal relationships in which persons care for one another enough to offer approval or disapproval.
  4. To live without guilt is psychopathic.

-Paul Johnson, “Psychology of Religion Revised and Enlarged”

Guiltless Living and Psychopathy

“The person who feels no guilt is psychopathic. His character structure is so impaired that he does not respond to the interests and ideal goals of his human kind but deceives himself that they do not matter. Sinless re- ligion is also deceptive. It deceives all who think it makes no difference what one believes or does. It brings confusion of truth and error, good and evil, not recognizing the distinction between values and disvalues. If re- ligion is the search for divine good, it matters supremely whether one is achieving good or evil. With lack of concern about sin there is failure to define, to declare, and to realize values. A false complacency of careless neutrality is the nadir of religious deception.” -Paul Johnson, “Psychology of Religion Revised and Expanded”