May 27, 2012
Paleoanthropologist Leakey Says Evolution Debate Nearing The End
The debate over evolution will be a thing of the past within the next three decades, the son of archaeologists Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey has proclaimed.
In an interview with the Associated Press (AP), Richard Leakey, a 67-year-old, Kenyan-born Stony Brook University professor, paleoanthropologist, and avowed atheist, said that he believed scientific discoveries over the next 15 to 30 years will have reached the point that "even the skeptics" will be able to accept the theory put forth by Charles Darwin in his 1859 book Origin of Species.
"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," he said.
"If we're spreading out across the world from centers like Europe and America that evolution is nonsense and science is nonsense, how do you combat new pathogens, how do you combat new strains of disease that are evolving in the environment?" Leakey continued.
"If you don't like the word evolution, I don't care what you call it, but life has changed. You can lay out all the fossils that have been collected and establish lineages that even a fool could work up," he added. "So the question is why, how does this happen? It's not covered by Genesis. There's no explanation for this change going back 500 million years in any book I've read from the lips of any God."
According to the AP story, Leakey began hunting for fossils in the 1960s. In 1984, he and a team of colleagues discovered "Turkana Boy," a nearly 1.6 million year old skeleton in 1984 that became "the first known early human with long legs, short arms and a tall stature."
He was appointed the head of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Department (WMCD) -- later the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) -- in 1989, where he helped establish anti-poaching teams to protect elephants and other animals.
Despite his own personal views on both religion and evolution, Leakey emphasized to the AP that he was not anti religious, saying, "If you tell me, well, people really need a faith ... I understand that“¦ I see no reason why you shouldn't go through your life thinking if you're a good citizen, you'll get a better future in the afterlife."