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'I don't have to reconcile my faith and job' - Professor Monica Grady

Leading space expert Professor Monica Grady says she is comfortable “not trying to reconcile” her faith and science

The highly-respected academic, who was awarded a doctorate of humane letters by Liverpool Hope University on Wednesday (July 17), is Professor of Planetary and Space Science at the Open University and has worked with the European Space Agency.

She gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 2003, and even has an asteroid named after her.

Prof Grady, who is a Roman Catholic, said religion and science need not be mutually exclusive, but does not attempt to think about space in terms of her faith.

“I don’t even try to reconcile my faith and science,” she said, ahead of receiving her doctorate at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral on Wednesday (July 17).

“The God I believe in is a God that makes you understand your responsibility. Too much these days it’s me, me, me in society but we have a responsibility to ourselves, our neighbours and the planet to do right for all.

“That comes from my background as a Catholic and I just feel that is what I want to do.

“I don’t feel it necessary to – and I can’t – explain how an asteroid forms as an act of God.

“Then there’s the Big Bang. I’m not saying God pointed a finger and said: “Let there be a Big Bang". Physics will explains that.

“You can’t explain it in terms of religion and you can’t explain it on behalf of God and I don’t think she’d mind. She’s very busy.”

Prof Grady, who was made a CBE in 2012 for services to space sciences, said she was “overwhelmed” when she told she would receive Hope's Honourary Doctorate.

“I burst into tears when I got the letter,” she said. “It’s a lovely honour.”

The Leeds-born scientist has been busy fielding media questions this week, during the 50th anniversary of the first men landing on the moon.

The Apollo 11 mission was a huge moment in US and world history, but Prof Grady says other significant landmarks in space exploration are sometimes overlooked in the media.

“The week after Apollo 11 a probe flew past Mars and took the first picture of the Martian Ice Caps while also helping us learn Mars had an atmosphere," she said.

“That was overlooked but it was incredibly important.”

Prof Grady is also extending her stay in the North West to appear at this weekend’s Blue Dot Festival at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre in Cheshire.

She will give a speech on Saturday titled ‘1969 and all that' reflecting on the US moon landings.


Published on 19/07/2019