Academics weigh in on evolution debate

Nearly 150 years after he proposed it, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution remains controversial, even though most scientists today accept it as biological fact. A major new museum exhibit in New York examines the scientific evidence for evolution, and attempts to understand &to=' target=_blank>Charles Darwin both as a scientific genius, and as a man. At a press opening for "Darwin," one of the American Museum of Natural History's biggest shows in recent memory, Randal Keynes, Darwin's great-great grandson, stands between two exhibits that would certainly have pleased his famous ancestor.

To his left is a pair of live giant Galapagos tortoises, one of many species first recorded by Charles Darwin as a young naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle during its five-year voyage around the world from England through the southern oceans. To Mr. Keynes' right is a full-scale model of the laboratory and study where Darwin wrote his landmark book, On the Origin of Species.

"He was a man of passion," muses Mr. Keynes, "which is a bit of a surprise for many people who think of the elderly gray-bearded figure looking very severe," he says pointing to a famous portrait of the naturalist taken toward the end of his long life. "I think he remained a child all his life with his enthusiasm for the natural world, the beetles that he first collected and then for everything he went on to study. He was intensely ambitious. He wanted to find great truths in the wonderful variety of nature. And boy did he find one!" Mr. Keynes beamed.

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