Continuing the discussion from The fossil record fits best with progressive creation:
This didn’t seem to fit in a “scientific evidence” thread, so I’m making a new one.
I agree with you on the two “doesn’t necessarily” points, and for that reason I disagree with your two “obviously” points.
Here is my understanding from reading and asking others and using tools (I don’t know Hebrew myself). The Hebrew word for humanity in Genesis 1:26–27 is adam, and its usual meaning is humanity or any human. This word is, as far as I know, always singular and masculine. Similarly, the English word “humanity” is a singular collective noun. Gender is very different between the two languages. English isn’t a rigidly gendered language like Hebrew and English has the neuter gender that Hebrew lacks. We can refer back to humanity with an “it” pronoun. In Hebrew, which lacks “it,” the appropriate pronoun is “he.”
So, for instance, Genesis 6:3:
Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in adam forever, for he is flesh; his days shall be 120 years.”
Here adam is singular, masculine, and takes the singular masculine pronouns “he” and “his”. This doesn’t mean adam is a man; adam is humanity, including men and women. The verse is either limiting the human life span or limiting the time then-living humans had on the planet (presumably before the flood comes). It is not limiting the days of an individual man named Adam.
Also, the few times a plural pronoun refers back to adam (which is singular itself, as always), such as Genesis 1:26, the pronoun is still masculine. The masculine doesn’t tell you it’s referring to a man. In “male and female he created them,” the “them” is just as masculine as the previous line’s “image of God he created him.”
So no, nothing about the grammar makes it obvious that the verses refer to one man and one woman. It uses a collective noun, adam, in much the same way the rest of the account uses singular collective nouns for the various categories of created things. For instance, 1:11 refers to deshe (vegetation) and 1:26 and 1:28 refer to dagah (fish). When the earth bursts forth with vegetation at God’s command in 1:11-13, nothing in the way the text is written leads us to expect only one or only two of each kind of plant are created. The same applies to when humanity is created. Nothing in this account suggests it is precisely one male and one female.
Now, of course many read “one man and one woman” into Genesis 1 based on Genesis 2 and other later texts. But that’s a different conversation than what Genesis 1 means on its own without retroactively changing it based on its canonical sequels.