Law vs Theory: Difference and Comparison

In scientific methods, theorizing and formulating laws are two important steps. Law and Theory are two words which are interrelated and used when it comes to Science.

People think they can be used alternatively. However, they have very different meanings and understanding the differences is necessary to understand Science better.

Key Takeaways

  1. The law refers to a statement describing a phenomenon observed repeatedly and proven true.
  2. The theory is an explanation that attempts to describe why a phenomenon occurs based on available evidence and observations.
  3. Laws are more specific and narrow in scope, while theories are more comprehensive and wide-ranging.

Law vs Theory 

The difference between Law and Theory is that a law is based on facts; it is a detailed explanation of how some part of the natural world works and is based on mathematics. On the other hand, a theory is a hypothesis that seeks to explain something which may be based on a coincidence or a fact that hasn’t been completely explained. 

Law vs Theory

Laws are universally recognised and are the foundations of science. They must never make a mistake.

If a law is proven inaccurate, all science based on it is also incorrect.

When a law is written, it contains no explanations; it is a fact based on observations. Science believes all scientific laws and theories to be valid.

When new evidence arises, however, theories may be disproven.

The theory is a proposed explanation based on rigorous studies and interpretation. Theories can be used to generate hypotheses and allow for error and, as a result, allow for change as discoveries either strengthen or radically change them.

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparison Law Theory 
Definition A law is a universally accepted fact or equation that can be used to make accurate predictions. A theory is a comprehensive explanation based on well-documented data from experiments that observe natural processes. 
Requirement  A law must be factual and should be unchanging. A theory must be substantiated, explanatory, predictive, and testable to be valid. 
Changes A law cannot be changed with time. A law is always constant. A theory can be changed or replaced after extensive research and over time. 
Example Mendel’s Law of Independent Assortment. The theory of the Big Bang or Darwin’s theory of Evolution. 

What is Law? 

Law is a verbal or mathematical statement summarising many experimental scientific findings. It explains or forecasts those aspects of the natural world that never change under the same circumstances.

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Law is any scientific theory that has been proven valid repeatedly and is thus accepted without doubt by most people.

The law of gravity is a prime example of this. It has been noted that an apple falls to the Earth’s surface.

It’s a truth that can’t be denied. There are no exceptions to this rule.

No one has ever seen a phenomenon in the reverse or the opposite direction. As a consequence, it is considered a law.

It has been proven to be true over time but has no real explanation for why it occurs. Hooke’s law, for example, does not explain why a spring works and Newton’s law of gravity does not explain why gravity exists.

Put another way; a law explains how something works but not why.

Laws help you predict what will happen in specific situations. Newton’s third rule, for example, states that the harder a softball is struck with a bat, the faster and further the ball will fly away from the bat.


What is Theory? 

In common usage, the term “theory” implies mere speculation, but in science, a theory is not considered a theory until several independent experiments have validated it. 

\A theory is a well-supported interpretation of any aspect of the natural world based on evidence, assumptions, and laws.

A theory is a formalised interpretation of observational evidence in the form of a law. In simple terms, a theory is a logic that underpins a law.

A theory, as described by the scientific community, describes how nature acts under some circumstances. Theories appear to be as large as the empirical evidence that supports them allows.

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A theory begins with a hypothesis, which is a proposed explanation for a natural phenomenon. Researchers develop scientific experiments to test their theories under natural conditions to transform a hypothesis into an established theory.

Scientists collect enough evidence to prove their hypothesis, making it a theory with predictive ability by following the scientific method and paying close attention to detail. 

Theories are the basis for advancing scientific understanding and putting the knowledge to practical use. Scientists use theories to create new inventions or find a cure for a disease. 

Theories can evolve, but it’s a long process. Many findings or evidence that the theory cannot explain are required for a theory to alter.


Main Differences Between Law and Theory 

  1. Theories are scientifically supported explanations of observations that make valid predictions and have been scientifically tested in various ways. At the same time, laws are widely accepted facts or equations capable of making true predictions.
  2. Theories describe nature’s functions, while laws describe what happens when those conditions are met. 
  3. Laws compile many facts, while theory is complicated and descriptive. 
  4. A better theory may substitute a theory; however, a law cannot be replaced. 
  5. According to the amount of evidence available, a theory may be strong or weak, whereas law is a truth that is uniformly observed. 
Difference Between Law and Theory

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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23 thoughts on “Law vs Theory: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Great content! It’s important to understand and differentiate between laws and theories. It’s also important to remember that scientific progress is based on both. So interesting!


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