Why Can a Scientific Theory Not Become a Law?


Martha Robinson

Science is a constantly evolving field, with new discoveries and theories emerging every day. One of the most important concepts in science is the difference between a theory and a law.

While these terms are often used interchangeably in everyday language, they have very different meanings in the scientific community. In this article, we will explore the question of why a scientific theory cannot become a law.

What is a scientific theory?

A scientific theory is an explanation of a natural phenomenon that has been extensively tested and supported by evidence. It is a well-established and widely accepted explanation for how and why something happens. Scientific theories are developed through the scientific method, which involves making observations, forming hypotheses, testing those hypotheses through experiments or observations, and refining or rejecting those hypotheses based on the results.

What is a scientific law?

A scientific law is a statement about an observed phenomenon that always holds true under certain conditions. Unlike a theory, which attempts to explain why something happens, a law simply describes what happens. Scientific laws are also developed through observation and experimentation, but they are typically simpler than theories and do not attempt to provide an explanation for the phenomenon being observed.

Why can’t a theory become a law?

The reason that a scientific theory cannot become a law is that they serve different purposes in science. A theory explains how and why something happens while a law simply describes what happens under certain conditions. As such, laws are more limited in scope than theories.

Additionally, theories are constantly being refined as new evidence emerges or as old evidence is reinterpreted. Theories can be modified or even rejected entirely if new evidence contradicts them. Laws, on the other hand, rarely change because they describe observable phenomena that do not vary under certain conditions.

Examples of theories vs laws

To better understand the difference between theories and laws let’s look at some examples:

– The theory of evolution: This is a well-established explanation for how and why species change over time. It is supported by extensive evidence from multiple fields of science, including biology, genetics, and paleontology.

– The law of gravity: This is a statement that describes the attraction between two objects with mass. It holds true under all conditions and can be used to predict the motion of objects in space.

As you can see, these two concepts serve very different purposes in science. The theory of evolution attempts to explain why species change over time while the law of gravity simply describes what happens when two objects with mass come together.


In conclusion, a scientific theory cannot become a law because they serve different purposes in science.

Both are important concepts in science and are developed through observation and experimentation. However, theories are more complex than laws and are constantly being refined as new evidence emerges or old evidence is reinterpreted.