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The Christian awakenings were not initially opposed to the contemporary movements of scientific investigation and the Enlightenment, and indeed many of those embracing the new religious zeal also shared in the fervent hopes of social improvement raised by science and reason. The Pietists were strong advocates of both popular and higher education, and the Pietist-dominated University of Halle promoted the study of science, especially the practical applications of scientific learning, and of world cultures. In Britain, John Wesley was a keen student of science and philosophy, and wrote learned treatises on epistemology. The Jansenists included among their number Blaise Pascal, a leading French scientist, who grounded both his scientific and his religious knowledge upon his personal experience. Those influenced by the Enlightenment and those influenced by the Awakening could unite in criticizing the established order in church and state, and in promoting programmes aimed at the extension of education. Protestant Dissenters and philosophers joined forces, moreover, in the first concerted attacks upon the slave trade and the slavery ofblack Africans. Nonetheless, evangelical Christians strenuously opposed the deism and scepticism that became prevalent in the later Enlightenment, and they grew to abhor the tendency of Enlightened philosophers to promote a moderate, rational, and ethical Christianity, which downplayed the doctrines of human sinfulness, eternal damnation, and Christ's atonement on the cross. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, this distrust had evolved into fundamental opposition.

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