I’ve heard it said that Darwin “stole” his idea of evolution from a contemporary. However, I just finished Kant’s Critique of Judgment, and he mentions evolution and uses the word “genetic” even. And that was from 1790. Is it possible the Founders of our country knew about this theory?
There was an hypothesis of evolution prior to Darwin called “Lamarckian evolution” - but it differed in some ways.
Evolution, as a concept, is not a new idea. And “genetic” comes from “genitals”, which come from the god “Genius”.
Have you ever heard of “Zeitgeist”? It means the spirit of the time. It means that everything in society is moving in a direction, and there is a dominant school of thought in each time period. This means that if Darwin didn’t come up with the idea, someone else would have at the same time (and probably did). Ideas build upon ideas. That’s why so many “discoveries” and inventions simultaneously occur.
The science of genetics did not exist until its founder, Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian priest, wrote on the subject in the 1860s. He was a contemporary of Darwin, but unfortunately his work was overshadowed by the controversy over evolution and it was pretty much neglected until the start of the 20th century. There is no evidence I have seen that Darwin was aware of Mendel’s work on genetics.