Some of what you say Roger, is true. But aren’t you being somewhat one-sided, one dimensional? I agree justice is not evil; justice is good. Did I not say that even if God brings evil upon people, God is still good, because God is just. But punishment is a type of evil, as the book of Joshua says, and as we understand by common sense, which is purposed for good. We want to change the language, but illness of an innocent child is a type of evil; we would not argue that it is to be desired. It is only because it is a type of evil that it can be punishment. But, and this is a big but, God is not evil to do it, as a judge is not evil to send a murderer to a prison which may be perceived as undesireable to the prisoner.
The filling may be painful, or not so painful (usually not so painful these days), but the cavity is undesireable, part of the ungood part of the creation we now live in.
Aren’t you being a bit simplistic? We know that faithful christians sometimes experience their pain and suffering as punishment, but as christians, they know the punishment and correction is for their benefit, so they know the punishment is good. We know King David, a faithful man, was still punished for his sins with Bathsheba, and with counting the people against God’s wishes. The entire nation was punished (by God) for David’s sin. Of course, faithful people are not punished for their faithfulness. But even in their faithfulness, sometimes pride, conceit, disobedience take place. Think of Moses, striking the rock to bring water to Israel, not following God’s explicit instructions, and taking too much credit. Did God not punish this faithful leader by not permitting him entrance to the promised land?
Of course, we agree that spiritual death was indicated in the gardern of eden. You read that in my previous comment. But that does not mean that physical death was not indicated. There is no divine indication that a punishment must always be defined by human timelines. It took God a long time before he finally exiled the people of Israel and Judah, even though they often worshipped idols many years before this exile. We do not have the right to say that God did not do it fast enough. Nor do we have the right to say, that God never did it because he would have done it faster. We do not have the right to judge God. We cannot judge God’s justice. God said it. God prophesied it. God did it. At the time He chose to do it. Not in our time. Not in our opinion of the right time.
What does it mean to die spiritually? Spiritual death is separation from God. Spiritual death is lack of communion with God. Spiritual death is giving in to sin, being a slave to sin. Denying Christ. Denying the power of God.
The serpent was lying with a half truth, which is often worse than a complete open lie. They died physically rather than living forever with God, as God promised for us and all believers. They certainly died. But it took a while. They died spiritually partly, because they could still pray to God, and God still spoke to them. But the communion with God was strained, broken, imperfect, tainted. They were ashamed. They walked often in disobedience. Death became part of their life. They knew this in a heart-breaking way when Cain slew Abel. It was evil for Cain to kill Abel? How do we know that? Because it resulted in death. And they could see death (deterioration) in their own lives, their own bodies, as they grew older. The serpent was lying in many different ways, although he made his lie look like truth.
However, you are right in this… not every evil that comes upon us is necessarily a punishment for our sins. Just as many people in Israel were punished for the sin of King David, rather than their own sin, and just as Job was not suffering for his sins, and just as the blind man Jesus healed was not blind because of his sin or his parent’s sin, so we need to know that our suffering is sometimes not a direct punishment for us. On the other hand, it is interesting in the book of Job, that Job learned something from his suffering, in his relationship with God. He learned he did not have all the answers.