Yes, Christian doctrine holds that the Adam and Eve of Genesis were actual people, not symbolic representations.
It does? Which doctrine? What time period?
Some teachings on origins that the church has definitively taught
God created everything.
God is almighty.
Man is unique.
There really was an historic first man: Adam.
All human beings now on Earth have Adam as their ancestor.
Because of this descent from him, we are born in Original Sin.
There was an Original Sin, through the Devil's temptation, in actual historical fact.
It was committed by our first parents: Adam and Eve (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, 1997).
Eve was formed from Adam's body (D 2123 PBC; & Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae, Pope Leo XIII, 1880).
Affirmed by (for example, and among many others) by the fifth session of the Council of Trent
...the Church itself, ordains, confesses, and declares these things touching the said original sin:
1. If any one does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and that he incurred, through the offence of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through that offence of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the worse; let him be anathema.
2. If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema:--whereas he contradicts the apostle who says; By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.
3. If any one asserts, that this sin of Adam,--which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propogation, not by imitation, is in each one as his own, --is taken away either by the powers of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, santification, and redemption; or if he denies that the said merit of Jesus Christ is applied, both to adults and to infants, by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the church; let him be anathema...
and by Pius XII in the 1950 Humani Generis
...the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.
That is doctrine. That's why it's controversial when someone with standing within the Church makes statements to the contrary, as Cardinal George Pell did in a recent debate
with Richard Dawkins:
“Well Adam and Eve are terms that mean ‘life’ and ‘earth’. Like an Everyman. It’s a beautiful, sophisticated, mythological account. It’s not science. But it’s there to tell us two or three things. First of all that God created the world and universe. Secondly that the key to the whole universe is humans. And thirdly it’s a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and the suffering in the world….It’s a religious story told for religious purposes.”
Now Richard Dawkins, who proved himself more astute than Pell in seeing the implications of Pell's denial of a historic Adam and Eve, retorted with this question: “Ah, well, I’m curious to know, if Adam and Eve never existed where did Original Sin come from?” It's painful to watch the Cardinal's sullen, silent expression after this question. He is unable to come up with any answer.
Dawkins is spot on here: No original parents, no original sin. No original sin, no explanation for sin in the world. No explanation for sin, no need for a savior. Christianity, apart from the reality of original sin, does not make any sense. It's a shame that Dawkins understands this better than the Cardinal. That is very troubling.
What is equally troubling is that the Cardinal does not seem aware of Pius XII's teaching in Humani Generis. In that encyclical, Pius XII specifically condemns the opinion known as polygenism, which is the belief that Adam "represents a number of first parents."
The doctrines of original sin and the Fall and the Atonement are central to western Christianity. Besides RCs, most mainstream and evangelical Protestant denominations hold to the actual existence of Adam and Eve, and suggestions to the contrary are regarded as controversial and unorthodox"www.npr.org/2011/08/09/138957812/evangelicals-question-the-existence-of-adam-and-eve
Polls by Gallup and the Pew Research Center find that four out of 10 Americans believe this account. It's a central tenet for much of conservative Christianity, from evangelicals to confessional churches such as the Christian Reformed Church....
"From my viewpoint, a historical Adam and Eve is absolutely central to the truth claims of the Christian faith," says Fazale Rana, vice president of Reasons To Believe, an evangelical think tank that questions evolution. Rana, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Ohio University, readily admits that small details of Scripture could be wrong.
...Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, says that rebellious choice infected all of humankind.
"When Adam sinned, he sinned for us," Mohler says. "And it's that very sinfulness that sets up our understanding of our need for a savior.
Mohler says the Adam and Eve story is not just about a fall from paradise: It goes to the heart of Christianity. He notes that the Apostle Paul (in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15) argued that the whole point of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection was to undo Adam's original sin.
"Without Adam, the work of Christ makes no sense whatsoever in Paul's description of the Gospel, which is the classic description of the Gospel we have in the New Testament," Mohler says.
My understanding is that Orthodox Christianity differs from the Roman Church WRT original sin, but AFAIK the Eastern churches have never asserted the nonexistence of an actual Adam and Eve. Please correct me if I'm wrong on this.
Catholics for instance believe in doctrinal development.
Certainly, doctrine does evolve over time, but the point is that the doctrine that Adam and Eve were actual persons from whom all of us descended remains the official doctrine of most Christian denominations, and assertions to the contrary are controversial.