The paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey has said that skepticism about evolution will soon be history. According to Kenyan-born Leakey, in the next 15 to 30 years, new discoveries will have accumulated to the point that "even the skeptics can accept it."
According to AP, Leakey 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 is a professor at Stony Brook University, Long Island. According to AP, he was in New York recently promoting the Turkana Basin Institute in Kenya. According to AP, the institute welcomes researchers in the field of human evolutionary origins.
Richard Leakey is the son of Louis and Mary Leakey, pioneers in the field of search for fossil evidence of human predecessors in East Africa. He has also been conducting ground breaking research in the same field with his wife, Meave and daughter, Louise. According to AP, the research family claims to have unearthed "much of the existing fossil evidence for human evolution."
AP reports Leakey said: "If you look back, the thing that strikes you, if you've got any sensitivity, is that extinction is the most common phenomena. 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."
Leakey says that the only hope of a future for mankind rests on accepting the existing scientific evidence of mankind's past. 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? 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. 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."
In spite of his rhetoric, Leakey, an atheist, says he has no animosity toward religion. He said: "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..."
According to AP, Leakey began searching for fossils of human ancestors in the mid-1960s. His team of researchers unearthed a nearly complete skeleton 1.6 million years old in 1984. The fossil became famous as the "Turkana boy," the first known early human with long legs, short arms and a tall stature, AP reports.
According to AP, in the late 1980s, Leakey joined government service in Kenya as head of the Kenya Wildlife Service and led the fight against elephant poachers. He was involved in a plane crash in 1993 which led to amputation of his lower legs. Now he walks on artificial limbs. There are suspicions that his plane was sabotaged by political enemies but the claim was never proven.
The president of Stony Brook University on eastern Long Island, Shirley Strum Kenny, convinced hm about a decade ago to join the faculty. He remained in Kenya after joining the faculty with Stony Brook anthropology students visiting to learn about his work. Leakey said: "It was much easier to work with a new university that didn't have a 200-year-old image where it was so set in its ways like some of the Ivy League schools that you couldn't really change what they did and what they thought."