Mmmh..., this thread has gone quite a bit
, hasn't it?
Okay, so what I can say on the topic:
I am quite confident that there are people who attain all kinds of jhanas today, and, much more importantly, that there are living sotapannas, sakadagamis, anagamis and arahants on our planet.
I find it quite astounding especially how the former point can be doubted so much, and on what basis?
If you just look at the Pa Auk system for example and people who follow that, it all seems quite solid, the people seem to reach jhana etc. And even if one doubts that, still, on what basis do people make such claims as "This cannot be reached anymore today"?
As for sotapanna and more, the scriptural basis for this has been pointed out here, and I have been confused by that for quite some time, too. It still confuses me how such a thing can be in the Tipitaka, especially considering what purpose it should serve. I have no idea, and I want to leave it at that. I just can say I have faith that this and that person in this day and age has reached such a stage.
In the end, it's all a matter of faith and doubt. Be it faith or doubt in the absolute validity of every text in the scriptures, or in this and that person's attainments, or one's own experience. I think there's not too much to be gained by arguing back and forth.
But still for this one point I would like to see the argument behind it: Where does the idea come from that jhanas cannot be reached anymore? Does it have to do with the idea that jhanas are part and parcel of stages of awakening, maybe even that only a sotapanna or higher could (and must be able to?) reach jhana?