We have to distinguish between referring to God and describing him; this is crucial to a critical-realist stance in theology. It is at this juncture that, in all religions, negative theology and positive, affirmative theology meet. The former (the via negativa) recognizes that, having referred to God, whatever we say will be fallible and revisable and ex hypothesi inadequate; and sometimes goes so far as to say that nothing can positively be said about God. However, this too easily becomes a slippery slope to atheism, so positive theology (the via positiva) affirms that to say nothing about God is more misleading than to say something—and that then we have to speak in metaphors. The metaphors of theological models that explicate religious experience can refer to and can depict reality without at the same time being naively and unrevisably descriptive, and they share this character with scientific models of the natural world. We may reasonably hope to speak realistically of God through revisable metaphor and model.
Arthur Peacocke, Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming—Natural, Divine, and Human (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 15