Nairobis National Museum of Kenya (NMK) is at the centre of a row between the scientific community and conservative Christians over its key The Origins of Man exhibit, South Africas Mail & Guardian newspaper reports.

The early hominid fossils from the Great Rift Valley contained in the display are seen by many as proof of Darwins theory of evolution.

However, church leaders led by Bishop Boniface Adoyo, chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, are contesting the exhibit on the grounds that its creating a big weapon against Christians thats killing our faith. They are demanding that the display be relocated to a less prominent location or removed altogether. Anthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey, son of renowned palaeontologists Louis and Mary Leakey who discovered many of the fossils on show, has dismissed their request as ridiculous. Evolution theory is accepted across the world, he said. This is scientific history and Kenya has the best of this evolutional history. Globally, few can match that claim to fame.

Museum officials are largely keeping out of the debate, saying only that NMK has the responsibility of ensuring that the integral research findings that have been developed over time are preserved. They have time to listen to both sides of the argument and decide what to do as the museum is currently closed for restoration and is only scheduled to reopen to the public in June 2007.