Prompted by Mike's recent comments about Michael Ruse's latest book, The Evolution-Creation Struggle, I decided to read it. Having finished it, I can confirm that it is indeed very good. One of the things Ruse describes is how long it actually took from Darwin published Origin of the Species until evolution took off as a proper scientific research program.
In the chapter "Failure of a Professional Science", Ruse writes:
Evolutionary biology as a professional science was distinctly second-rate. It failed to be properly causal; its "laws" often failed to predict; and worst of all it was riddled with cultural values, especially related to notions of progress. Deservedly, evolution was pushed out of the universities. [p. 101]
It wasn't as if research required some sophisticated technology that didn't exist at the time. "A professional science could surely have been started which looked not only at issues in the wild but also studied variation in the laboratory, by, for example, breeding generations of organisms to the point where reproductive barriers between the earlier and later variations arose. Not all of these experiments would have worked, but something would have succeeded and taken the issue a step further." (P. 88) Henry Walter Bates had done some work on mimicry in insects, but went on to become a secretary for the Royal Geographic Society (ironically, with Darwin's help), and no one took up his work.
It wasn't until the 1930's, more than 60 years after Darwin had published Origin of the Species, that an actual theory of evolution was proposed, dubbed "the synthetic theory". The mathematicians Ronald A. Fisher and Sewall Wright did the work necessary to make the effects of natural selection quantifiable, the journal Evolution was founded, and empiricists like Bernard Kettlewell and Ernst Mayr could carry out their field work, studying evolution in the wild.
In Ruse's terminology, evolution only gradually arose from pseudoscience, through popular science, before finally becoming a professional science in the 1930's. You could say that evolution evolved. Similarly, intelligent design has passed from being expressed in creationist pamphlets as a flimsy support for apologetics, to being expressed in popular science books. ID critcs often inquire as to why intelligent design still isn't doing any research, "10 years after Behe published Darwin's Black Box". However, they should remember the lesson taught to us by Darwin's followers: Big ideas take time.