World famous palaeontologist Richard Leake.

New York - Noted paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey predicts scepticism over evolution will soon be a thing of the past. Not that the avowed atheist has any doubts himself.

Some time in the next 15 to 30 years, the Kenyan-born Leakey expects scientific discoveries will have accelerated to the point that “even the sceptics can accept it”.

“If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence that (the theory of evolution) is solid… then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges,” he told reporters recently.

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 welcomes researchers from around the world dedicated to unearthing the origins of mankind.

Leakey, 67, is the son of the late pioneering archaeologists Louis and Mary Leakey, who first posited the African genesis of humankind in the 1930s. He conducts research with his wife, Meave, and daughter, Louise.

Any hope for mankind’s future, he insists, rests on accepting existing scientific evidence of its past. “If we’re spreading out across the world… that evolution is nonsense and science is nonsense, how do you combat new pathogens?

“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 out,” Leakey said. “So the question is why, how does this happen?... There’s no explanation for this change going back 500 million years in any book I’ve read from the lips of any God.” - Sapa-AP