Home » 10 Lies of Contemporary Culture: Dr. Peter Kreeft (Full Transcript)

10 Lies of Contemporary Culture: Dr. Peter Kreeft (Full Transcript)

Full text of Dr. Peter Kreeft’s speech titled ‘10 Lies of Contemporary Culture’ which was delivered as commencement address at Franciscan University of Steubenville on May 14, 2022. Dr. Kreeft is a leading Catholic apologist, philosophy professor, and author of over 100 books.

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Dr. Peter Kreeft – Catholic apologist, philosophy professor, and author

Before I actually give you my commencement address, I’d like to sell it to you, by telling you that it’s going to be mercifully short.

Since our plethora of technological time-saving devices have robbed us of leisure time nowadays, I will do you the charitable deed of saving you a little time by summarizing in one short speech, what thousands of other commencement speakers have been telling you for the last generation or two.

I want to say 10 uncomfortable things about 10 comfortable ideas that they say you need to cultivate: identity, self esteem, service to the world, creativity, critical thinking, peace, justice, openness, love, and freedom. These are 10 nice, happy faced words.

But unlike most commencement speakers, I will not tell you happy lies about them.


It’s a well-known platitude, especially in economics departments, that there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics. As they also say, figures don’t lie, but liars figure.

But I think that principle should be expanded. I think there are four kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, statistics, and commencement addresses.

I think most commencement addresses were inspired by the inventor of advertising, which is the world’s oldest profession. The one that was invented in the Garden of Eden by a Shapeshifter with many names, some of which are Beelzebub, Mephistopheles, Astaroth, Baal, and Satan.

The first product of his advertising was an Apple. An icon of that product with the bite taken out of it is proudly displayed on many of his products today. He has chutzpah, because these are labels that shamelessly say ‘made in hell’.

His partner in sadism is Bill Gates, author of the world’s cleverest torture chamber, Microsoft Word.

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Our Lord promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against Peter, son of Jonas, but He did not promise that the hell of gates would not prevail against Peter, son of Kreeft.

The word ‘advertising’ is itself an advertisement. It’s a weasel word. It’s a euphemism for lying, for no man-made product could ever be successfully sold to this ship of fools by simply telling the truth.

Most people think that the world’s oldest profession is prostitution, but that’s only one form of advertising. I know something about this form of advertising, for my job is to be an intellectual prostitute. That is a college professor.

I don’t sell my body for money. Nobody’d buy that. But I do sell my mind. Boston College is my pimp. Students pay my pimp. It’s called tuition, and my pimp pays me. It’s called salary. That’s what Socrates would say.

The business I work for is brains for hire. That’s why it’s called higher education.

But today there has been a miracle. I have been rendered incapable of lying for one day, just like Jim Carrey in the hilariously funny movie ‘Liar Liar’.

So I can lie today only if I tell the truth about lies. And therefore I will give you 10 common comfortable lies that my fellow advertisers and prostitutes have been telling you for many years in their commencement speeches.

LIE NUMBER 1 is that You Can Be Whatever You Want To Be.

Well, that’s not true even for God… He can’t be the devil even if He wanted to be. Good cannot be evil, and evil cannot be good. There is indeed a little good in the worst of us and a little bad in the best of us, so that it ill becomes the best of us to speak ill of the worst of us.

But there is not a little evil in goodness itself or a little good in evil itself, because nothing can be what it is not, that’s the law of non contradiction, then which nothing more certain, can ever be thought except by a deconstructionist.

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So this popular self-contradiction is, well, self-contradictory, or if it’s altered into something that is logically possible and changed into you can become anything you want to become. Well, it’s still a lie, because if it were not a lie, I guarantee you I would have become the greatest left handed relief pitcher in the history of baseball.

Hobbits cannot become wizards, only better or worse hobbits. Men cannot become women, only better or badder men.

You cannot make yourself immortal. You can’t even make yourself a Saint. Only God can do that, though you can let Him do it.

But since we are essentially temporal creatures that cannot be done instantly, only gradually, because nothing can escape from its own essential nature. And when it tries to do that, it becomes both comic and tragic.

And as all our great dramatists have perceived, human life in this world is indeed a tragic comedy.

LIE NUMBER 2 is what I think is the most seductively Satanic sentence I have ever heard. And it was the theme song of a TV show for small children back in the 70s called The Electric Company. The song went like this: The most important person in the whole wide world is you.

In other words, God, how dare you to sit on my throne? That was the essence of Satan’s philosophy and the motivation for his rebellion. As John Milton sagely said, ‘Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven’.

In fact, whenever we worship ourselves, we make hell. God does not make hell. We do.

The song everyone sings as they enter hell is I did it my way. When I was a kid, way back in the Jurassic age. Perhaps once every few years, some crazy man would make the news by killing dozens of strangers in public for no reason at all. Nowadays, that happens every few days.

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What has made the difference? Well, when I was a little kid, we didn’t listen to the electric company. I can’t think of a better way than that philosophy to raise a generation of psychopaths.

Some of these little kids grow up to be psychologists. I actually heard a psychologist once say that Hitler’s problem was that he didn’t have enough self-esteem. He’d probably say the same thing about Satan.

A good friend of mine swears that he heard a Catholic priest say in an Easter Sunday sermon that and I quote word for word, ‘the message that Christ was trying to preach to the world from his pulpit of the cross on Good Friday was, I’m okay, you’re okay?’

This makes me angry because I love comedy and such people put satirical comedians like Monty Python out of business. When satire has become identical with reality, there’s nothing left to satire.

LIE NUMBER 3 is a sweeter version of the previous lie. It is that the world needs you, that you can save the world, or at least Western civilization or America or the culture: You are the messiah.

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