There is an analogy between chemical kinds — elements — and biological kinds. Both show that things have differences in kind, not just degree. The development of the periodic table was not controversial but biological kinds are strongly opposed by mainstream science. What happened?
John S. Wilkins wrote his dissertation and book on “Species: A History of the Idea”. While he is an evolutionist, he is as knowledgeable as anyone on the history here. His blog post “What makes special creationism special?” outlines the history – see http://scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoughts/2007/12/25/what-makes-special-creationism/
Basically, the focus turned to natural history and origins instead of natural science. For chemical science the question “Which came first, hydrogen or oxygen?” is irrelevant. Same for “What is the origin of water?” The history of chemical elements or compounds is separate from the science of chemistry. It should be the same for biology. The natural history of organisms should be separate from the science of biological kinds.
The science of biological kinds does not depend on Genesis either, though it provides motivation. Once biological kinds are established, the age of the earth is easier to determine.