This is an intriguing possibility. What remains to be seen is how the mechanics of this process will be designed. The problem is not only a paucity of original ideas that the apologists face but also that they have no intelligent designers.
Any idea they do
come up with is bound to be dumb, but the historicity and the fictional angles are the work of others—if it's not a ghost committee, it's the ghost of Hugh Nibley or the wraiths of post-modernism. But if their lack of even dumb ideas has rendered them less fit for survival as an intellectual species, so little of what they write could survive the natural selection process because they cannot inspire a great writer to join their tribe, and they certainly have none in their little cave.
Before a point of contrast, a prelude: high intelligence clothed in forceful and persuasive verbal expression is unrelated to the dumbness of the idea being expressed in that language by that intelligence. Homo Nibleyensis, like Homo Newtonianus, can believe really dumb things while forcefully, even persuasively, presenting his dumb ideas. A contrast to the current apologists, for example, would be someone like Vine Deloria, the Sioux theologian of native American- Christian pidgin god-talk and sometime law professor of blessed memory whose books are assigned to undergraduates every year in sociology, history, English, and various "studies" courses at preeminent research universities (almost as good as BYU in some cases). In books like Red Earth, White Lies
, those undergraduates will read, in the full and protective authority of a secular setting, about what is effectively native creationism, support for Noah's ark (because Sioux myths also contain a flood story!), the presence of elephants in North America, original but wacky ideas about gravity, a young earth, and attacks on "scientism." They will even read a line or two supporting the Mormon claim that natives came in a boat from the land of Jerusalem and before that from Babel in boats tight like unto a dish (the most erotic line in the Book of Mormon, incidentally). The intellectual substance is no better and perhaps worse than what you get from Hugh Nibley (see an example here
, starting at 22:40).
Why? In part, some people are afraid to be labelled as racists, because Vine Deloria is Standing Rock Sioux and he's writing about native issues as a native American. Academics are a pretty cowardly bunch anyway—professors have no trouble "speaking truth to power," as they like to say, when that power is the president of the United States on Twitter but not when it's the university president in her office—but many writers far more terrifying than even Vine Deloria or Donald Trump aren't read, even if their ideas are less dumb, so cowardice doesn't explain much. No, it's in no small part because Vine Deloria is a great writer. Dumb ideas came to his head but from his typewriter they took a noble and elegant voice.
I find Gadianton's perspicuity generally unmatched, so I cannot dissent from his prediction without further light and knowledge. It may very well be the apologists who start pushing this inspired fiction theory as a faithful argument, abandoning NHM for what is basically NOM. On the level of ideas, that will be simply intellectual theft, since I doubt they're going to give credit to the people who have been advancing this interpretation for years. On the other hand, I'm not sure anyone will notice. The Book of Mormon as inspired fiction might be less dumb than Book of Mormon as history (I'm not really sure myself), but it is still a dumb idea because, much like the theory of historicity, it sacrifices the liver for the appendix: it confuses almost everything in order to explain one thing. Only a great writer can make this sacrifice seem not merely necessary but even desirable. But in the post-Nibley era, Homo Apologeticus FARMSiensis has yet to evolve beyond the book review into anything resembling literary talent.
"As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them."
—B. Redd McConkie