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Evolution skeptics will soon be silenced by science: Richard Leakey

Richard Leakey predicts skepticism over evolution will soon be history.

Not that the avowed atheist has any doubts himself.

Sometime in the next 15 to 30 years, scientific discoveries will have accelerated to the point that "even the skeptics can accept it," the Kenyan-born paleoanthropologist said.

"If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence, that it's solid, that we are all African, that color is superficial, that stages of development of culture are all interactive, then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges."

Leakey, a professor at Stony Brook University on Long Island, recently spent several weeks in New York promoting the Turkana Basin Institute in Kenya. The institute, where Leakey spends most of his time, welcomes researchers and scientists from around the world dedicated to unearthing the origins of mankind in an area rich with fossils.

His friend Paul Simon performed at a May 2 fundraiser for the institute in Manhattan that collected more than $2 million US. A National Geographic documentary on his work at Turkana aired this month on public television.

Now 67, Leakey is the son of the late renowned archeologists Louis and Mary Leakey and conducts research with his wife, Meave, and daughter, Louise. The family claims to have unearthed "much of the existing fossil evidence for human evolution."

On the eve of his return to Africa earlier this week, Leakey spoke to The Associated Press in New York City about the past and the future.

Exitinction driven by environmental change

"If you look back, the thing that strikes you, if you've got any sensitivity, is that extinction is the most common phenomena," Leakey says. "Extinction is always driven by environmental change. Environmental change is always driven by climate change. Man accelerated, if not created, planet change phenomena; I think we have to recognize that the future is by no means a very rosy one."

Any hope for mankind's future, he insists, rests on accepting existing scientific evidence of its past.

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TAGGED: EVOLUTION


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