Martin Gardner was a fascinating Renaissance man. In his youth, he was an evangelical Christian, later abandoning Christianity. He became a columnist and essayist in the area of mathematics, magic, philosophy, paranormal debunking and religion. He became an expert on Lewis Carroll and G.K. Chesterton. He also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel on the loss of traditional faith, The Flight of Peter Fromm.

What surprised many of his colleagues and fans is that he could not eliminate completely the idea of eternal life and God. He remained at least a philosophical theist. He said that one of his favorite quotes was from G.K. Chesterton, who observed that to atheists, "the universe was the most exquisite masterpiece ever created by nobody."