CEL Solicitors were thrilled to welcome Revd Canon Dr Mike Kirby, Liverpool Cathedral’s first Canon Scientist, as part of the firms ‘CEL Talk’ series. Once every month, staff down tools early to hear a keynote speaker with something interesting to share, be that from the world of sport, entertainment or in this case, the often opposing worlds of science and faith.
So who is Revd Canon Dr Mike Kirby?
Revd Canon Dr Mike Kirby is a distinguished academic, renowned scientist, a cancer specialist and a religious leader. He has had a fascinating career, answering his two callings, that have seen him combine his love of science and faith. Currently, he is Canon Scientist, the first role of its kind, at Liverpool Cathedral and a senior lecturer in radiotherapy physics at the University of Liverpool.
The reverend’s early life
Mike grew up in Denton in Manchester with his brother and beloved parents, Lorna and Alf. His parents, who had emigrated to England from Sri Lanka, were devoted Roman Catholics. His big break came when he received a scholarship to Manchester Grammar School. It was here he developed his love of science before going on to study physics at Durham University. With an interest in medicine, he went on to study a masters in applied radiation physics at Birmingham University before doing a PHD in medical biophysics at Manchester University.
Scientific and medical career
Mike began working in the NHS over 30 years ago, as a radiotherapy physicist at the Christie Hospital in Manchester. His many achievements included setting up satellite centres to make cancer treatments more accessible to patients across the North West. As well as lecturing in Liverpool, Mike is an honorary lecturer (Faculty of Biology, Medicine, and Health) at the University of Manchester and a supervisor for Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST), a workplace-based training programme supported by a doctoral level academic award.
Keeping the faith
Mike practiced his faith and was an active member of the church community during his early life, studies and scientific and medical career. However, feeling a deeper calling he left his job as a consultant to train at Westcott House in Cambridge before being ordained in 2013. He subsequently focused his ministry on cathedrals in Blackburn, Chester and ultimately Liverpool where he has been cathedral chaplain since 2018. He is a member of the Society of Ordained Scientists and has given numerous talks on science and faith in schools, colleges, churches and now CEL.
Combining science and faith
Canon Mike spoke to CEL employees about his life, career and cathedral role, which encourages dialogue about science and faith. He told staff how he helps to facilitate discussion on a wide range of issues such as climate change, medical ethics, health initiatives and information on cancer, dementia and mental health. He does this through the Gilbert Scott lectures on science and faith, the first series of which started last year with a second series running in May this year. Commenting on his multifaceted career he said: “Throughout my career I have felt God’s call to serve his people at the heart of my personal vocation.”
Commenting on the latest CEL Talk one staff member commented on their main takeaway: “[My takeaway was that] there are ideas where science and spirituality intersect and they’re both unexplainable whichever perspective you choose, like the creation of the world in the book of Genesis and the theory of the big bang. Another employee said: “The talk was a reminder that there is more that unites us than divides us and you can bring your whole self to work as the things you do outside of work can add value to your work. It was great to see how Rev Dr Mike Kirby has pursued his science and faith and that one is not mutually exclusive from the other.