Heber,Would you feel the same about the Joseph Smith story (First Vision and Golden Plates, for example) if it was a good story, leading to a good organization to serve others, but totally made up story? Or would you not be able to have faith in the church unless those things really happened?
Good question. I think the situation is a little different. Christmas is one small part of Christianity, an event if you will, albeit an important one. The first vision provides the linchpin for our entire faith. If the first vision is simply made up, I think that does seriously affect the credibility of Mormonism. That said, I have experienced much that is good from being LDS. If I were to discover incontrovertible evidence that the first vision was false, I still wouldn't regret the experiences associated with it (mission, marriage, etc) even though it has been a source of pain from time to time. Nowadays, I view most stories (historical or modern) I hear in Church rather skeptically and tend to view them as great stories but not automatically accurate. The truth is generally more complex. But just like Christmas, our religion's complexities, ambiguities and absurdities don't keep me from seeing what is good and appreciating the memories associated with it.