So here we are then. J Day. The Big Judgment by the big fella upstairs is upon us, this very day.

If you woke up this morning and noticed something out of the ordinary, like the righteous ascending to heaven while the rest of us are dealing with plagues, floods and fire and suchlike, then it would seem that Harold Camping was, in fact, right and not the complete nut-bar most of us took him for. And if this is indeed the case, then reading a stupid column in the weekend paper is probably further down your "Must Do Today" list than, say, running around screaming.

Camping's predictions of The Rapture and the Judgment of the less than righteous is, as far as I can tell, based on some mathematics that would make Stephen Hawking shake his head (as much as he is able) and say, in his little computer voice, "Don't look at me, I can't make head nor tail out of this crap."

However he gets there. The end point of all Camping's math is that at 6pm on Saturday, May 21 2011, just as we're all sitting down to watch the evening news, that's it, we're done for as a species. Whether or not these complex calculations take into account mundane little things like daylight savings, leap years and time zones isn't clear.

Happily ignoring the fact that he also predicted Judgment Day in 1994, Camping seems supremely confident, in a very pessimistic way, that he's called it this time. If he has, well, then good on him and you'd have to hope, on his behalf, that God isn't pissed off with him for spoiling the surprise. But of more significance, here is the simple question: what if Camping is wrong?

I mean, if you're Camping or one of the preachers around the world who picked up on his May 21 message to scare the living daylights out of your flock and then tomorrow, Sunday morning rolls round, what are you going to tell your flock then about the lack of a Judgment Day? "Ooops, sorry, did I say 2011? I meant to say 2012, like the film of the same name." Of all the calls you can possibly make, predicting the end of the world is pretty much the biggie, the holy grail of big calls, so once you've made it, and got it wrong, it must be hugely difficult to go back.

I suppose one way around this might be to sell your flock on the idea that they actually have all been raptured up to heaven, at 6.01pm the previous day, in a God-like way so mysterious that no one noticed the rapturing, and that heaven looks remarkably like the Earth they left behind - to the point of being an exact copy, where you have the same job and neighbours and everything. Given that your starting point is a bunch of people who believed in the Rapture According to Harold Camping, then the "identical heaven" ploy should at least buy you enough time to clean out the church bank accounts and emigrate to Venezuela before the flock starts going "hang on, if this is Heaven, how come all the fornicators and sinners are here with us?"

You might have guessed, by now, that I'm a tad cynical when it comes to Old Testament-style predictions of judgment days. Quite frankly, if there is a God and He/She/It truly wants to punish mankind, then leaving us to our own devices is doing the job pretty well thus far.

At least I used to be cynical about Judgment Day until, in the course of researching this column, I stumbled upon the little known Old Testament book of Cleeseiastes. Like a lot of these Old Testament books, it has a judgment day story outlining the signs leading up to J Day, then going into great detail about the torments the non-Raptured will suffer (mainly at the hands of frogs, apparently) after the righteous have departed. It's all pretty standard stuff, until I got to the final sign of the coming apocalypse, when it says in Cleeseiastes 6:66 that:

"And man shall sit at his table to eat, but where there was bread there shall be no bread; and where there had once been bread there shall instead be chicken. And lo, man will cry out in fear at the sign of the two pieces of chicken, acting as if bread, enrobing the cheese and the bacon. But man will not be able to resist the chicken, masquerading as bread, and man shall eat of the chicken, and double will be their torment as they are dragged down to the fires of hell."

I don't know about you, but after reading that, I'm not making too many plans after 6pm tonight.